The following commentary is published on Thursdays as part of TPPF’s subscriber-only newsletter The Post. If you would like to subscribe to The Post, click here

This week the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas sided with the novel concept that members of Congress must show up for work to do their jobs.

In a case brought by TPPF and the Texas Attorney General, the court concluded that when the U.S. House of Representatives voted in December 2022 to approve a $1.7 trillion appropriations bill with less than half the membership physically present, and most of them voting by proxy, it violated the Quorum Clause of the Constitution, which states clearly “a Majority of each [House] shall constitute a Quorum to do Business.”

The judge who wrote the opinion was emphatic: “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.” In other words, proxy voting is unconstitutional.

So, what happens now? The judge stayed the effect of his order for seven days giving time for the government to appeal, which it likely will. From here, the case goes to the 5th Circuit and then on to the Supreme Court.

The practical effect of the ruling is that the regulatory provisions included in the appropriations bill will not apply to Texas. But as it moves through the court system, new precedents will be set (which, according to my law nerd friends, is the jurisprudential equivalent of finding life on other planets.)

Will taxpayers get their $1.7 trillion back? Probably not. Most of it has already been spent and there’s not really a claw back mechanism to do so. That wasn’t the purpose of the suit anyhow.

The point was that the Constitution requires members to be present to vote. As TPPF argued in its brief, the Founders did contemplate proxy voting and explicitly rejected it.

This is the first ruling of its kind. Not many provisions of the Constitution have gone untested in its 236-year history, but then Congress has seldom been this broken and feckless that – despite spending millions of dollars to earn these positions – members don’t even want to show up to do the one thing they are required to do.

A sign of the times.