Written by Ashton Snyder on
 February 28, 2024

Federal Judge Rules Against Congressional Bill In Blow To Biden Administration

A federal court in Texas has delivered a pivotal ruling that casts a shadow over the constitutionality of a significant legislative process.

According to Fox News, a Lubbock, Texas judge ruled the $1.7 trillion government funding bill unconstitutional due to its passage by proxy voting, a method enabled during the pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Hendrix's decision came as a shock to many, focusing on a specific provision that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought to challenge—the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, representing the Republican stance, initiated this legal battle with a clear aim. He sought to dismantle a component of the funding bill designed to fortify the rights of pregnant workers across the nation.

This provision, known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, mandated that employers accommodate the needs of their pregnant employees.

Judge Hendrix's Narrow Ruling Opens a Broad Conversation

Judge Hendrix, appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued a ruling with a narrow scope yet profound implications.

His injunction specifically targets the enforcement of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act against state employees, leaving the private sector untouched. This decision reflects a meticulous approach to addressing the grievances brought forward by the state of Texas.

In his 120-page ruling, Judge Hendrix delved into the constitutional foundations of legislative practice. He argued that the precedent for over two centuries had been a physical presence of the majority of House or Senate members to form a quorum.

According to Hendrix, this standard was bypassed when the House adopted proxy voting in May 2020 under the guidance of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Proxy Voting Controversy and Its Constitutional Implications

The controversy surrounding proxy voting is not new. When Republicans reclaimed the House majority in 2022, they promptly revoked the proxy voting rule, citing previous unsuccessful legal challenges.

Judge Hendrix's ruling underscores a long-held constitutional interpretation that to legislate, a physical quorum is indispensable.

"Supreme Court precedent has long held that the Quorum Clause requires presence," Judge Hendrix wrote, emphasizing the constitutional necessity for lawmakers to be physically present to vote. This perspective challenges the pandemic-era adaptation that saw less than half of the House's members vote in person for the bill's passage.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed satisfaction with the ruling, criticizing the passage of the bill without a physical majority.

"Congress acted egregiously... This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the court upheld the Constitution," Paxton remarked, reflecting on the perceived misuse of proxy voting.

The Legal and Political Fallout of a Historic Ruling

Matthew Miller, representing the Texas Public Policy Foundation, praised the decision for affirming the necessity of a physical quorum. According to Miller, this ruling correctly interprets constitutional requirements, setting a precedent that could influence future legislative processes.

The Department of Justice, facing requests for comment, has remained silent on the issue. This silence speaks volumes, indicating the complex legal and constitutional questions the ruling raises.

As the case may head to higher courts, the debate over the balance between tradition and necessity in legislative procedures continues to unfold.


]Judge Hendrix's ruling not only blocks a specific enforcement of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act but also ignites a broader discussion on the constitutionality of proxy voting. This landmark decision, resting on centuries-old interpretations of legislative requirements, may have far-reaching implications for how laws are passed in times of crisis.

As the legal battle progresses, the balance between upholding constitutional standards and adapting to modern challenges remains a pivotal concern for lawmakers and citizens alike.

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About Ashton Snyder

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