Federal Judge Rules 'The Final Major Achievement' of Pelosi's Speakership Was Unconstitutional


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

A federal judge on Feb. 27 ruled that the Nancy Pelosi-led House of Representatives acted unconstitutionally in December 2022 when it passed a $1.7 trillion federal budget.

U.S. District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled that Pelosi, then speaker of the House, violated the Constitution by allowing members to vote without actually being at the Capitol for the Dec. 23 session at which the budget was adopted, according to Reuters.

At the time of the budget’s passing, CNBC referred to the action as “the final major achievement” of Pelosi’s term as speaker of the House. The budget passed 225-201.

At the time the budget was almost three months late. Budgets are theoretically supposed to be in place by the Oct. 1 start of the federal fiscal year but are rarely adopted on time. This year, for example, Congress has not yet approved a full budget five months into the federal fiscal year.

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Hendrix, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said he did not block the entire budget, which ran through Sept. 30, 2023.

Texas wanted to block two provisions ultimately. On one, the state lost. Hendrix ruled Texas did not have standing to attack $20 million in the budget that funded services to illegal immigrants while they were undergoing immigration removal proceedings.

Hendrix agreed to the state’s request to block the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act from being enforced against Texas. The bill was designed to give pregnant workers what it called reasonable accommodation. As part of his ruling, Hendrix said the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could not enforce the law against the state government of Texas.

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“Congress acted egregiously by passing the largest spending bill in U.S. history with fewer than half the members of the House bothering to do their jobs, show up, and vote in person,” state Attorney General Paxton said, according to a news release from Paxton’s office, which declared that Paxton had “secured a major victory in defense of the United States Constitution.”

“Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass this law, then Biden signed it, knowing they violated the Constitution. This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the Court upheld the Constitution,” he said.

Proxy voting was a pandemic-era rule that was abolished in January 2023 when Republicans took control of the House.

In his 120-page opinion, Hendrix excoriated the proxy voting system.

“For over 235 years, Congress understood the Constitution’s Quorum Clause to require a majority of members of the House or Senate to be physically present to constitute the necessary quorum to pass legislation,” he wrote.

“This rule prevents a minority of members from passing legislation that affects the entire nation,” he wrote.

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“But despite the Constitution’s text and centuries of consistent practice, the House in 2020 created a rule that permitted non-present members to be included in the quorum count and vote by proxy,” he wrote, adding, “Pursuant to that novel rule, the House passed a new law included within the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, and that particular provision affects Texas.”

“Like many constitutional challenges, Texas asserts that this provision is unenforceable against it because Congress violated the Constitution in passing the law. … The Court concludes that, by including members who were indisputably absent in the quorum count, the Act at issue passed in violation of the Constitution’s Quorum Clause.”

“Based on the Quorum Clause’s text, original public meaning, and historical practice, the Court concludes that the Quorum Clause bars the creation of a quorum by including non-present members participating by proxy,” he continued.

“Supreme Court precedent has long held that the Quorum Clause requires presence, and the Clause’s text distinguishes those absent members from the quorum and provides a mechanism for obtaining a physical quorum by compelling absent members to attend,” he wrote.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at
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