Alaska’s Congressman Don Young joined the House Republican lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Democrats’ recently passed rule that allows representatives to vote without being physically present.
In joining the suit, Young is committed to refrain from voting via proxy for a fellow member of Congress or designating a proxy for his own votes.
“Rather than call the House back into session and implement a plan to safely vote, Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic Leadership cooked up a flagrantly unconstitutional proxy voting scheme behind closed doors,” Young said in a statement about his decision to join the lawsuit. “For 231 years, this institution has never seen anything like this.”
Young highlights that the nation has seen trying times throughout its history including the Civil War, the 1918 Spanish Flue and the Sept. 11th attacks.
“But despite it all, our work in the House continued,” he said. “This move by Democratic Leadership should concern all Americans, regardless of political party.”
The 86-year-old Young maintains that it is possible to represent constituents while respecting the Constitution and staying physically safe.
“…the Congress of the United States has never before flinched from its constitutional duty to assemble at the Nation’s Capital.”
With more than 47 years as a congressman, Young is the longest serving active member of the House and the 12 longest serving of all time.
“I love and respect this institution,” Young stated. “This proxy voting scheme endangers the House, and requires a serious, measured response.”
He called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proxy plan a “voting sham.”
Last week, Congress took its first ever votes using the new system. Under the new rules each lawmaker can vote for up to 10 other representatives who aren’t physically present.
Not one House Republican voted for the new plan, and on May 26 Republicans sued Pelosi in federal court. The lawsuit claims that “the Congress of the United States has never before flinched from its constitutional duty to assemble at the Nation’s Capital and conduct the People’s business in times of national peril and crisis. So it was for more than two centuries. Until now.”
Instead of participating in the new plan, House Republicans are asking members who don’t feel safe about traveling to Washington to merely state how they would have voted if present.
The lawsuit claims that proxy voting is “flatly prohibited by the Constitution.”
The controversy in the U.S. House reflects the national and statewide debates over widespread mail-in only voting proposals.
“It is simply impossible to read the Constitution and overlook its repeated and emphatic requirement that Members of Congress actually assemble in their respective chambers when they vote, whether on matters as weighty as declaring war or as ordinary as naming a bridge,” the suit states. “That requirement is no less mandatory in the midst of a pandemic … as the House’s forebears amply demonstrated when facing a far more deadly pandemic a little more than a century ago.”
Concerns about proxy voting include the fact that the House endures more than 1.6 billion cyber-attacks each month and questions remain whether remote voting is secure.
On a larger scale the controversy in the U.S. House reflects the national and statewide debates over widespread mail-in only voting proposals. Democrats are more open to the idea while Republicans worry that massive mail-in voting could compromise the security and integrity of elections.