Federal Judge Rejects Challenge to DC Voting Law

(LibertySons.org) – A conservative group has been challenging a controversial Washington, DC law that lets noncitizens vote in municipal elections and even run for office in the city. Now, a federal judge has dismissed their lawsuit. She ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t show that they were harmed by foreign nationals, including illegal immigrants, being allowed to help run this country’s capital city.

DC Lets Foreigners Vote

In October 2022, the Washington, DC, city council passed the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act. This allowed all DC residents over the age of 18 who had lived in the district for at least 30 days to vote in local elections—even if they had entered the US illegally. The law outraged conservatives, and on February 9, 2023, the House of Representatives voted to overturn it. However, that motion died in the Senate, and the law was allowed to stand.

The failure of the congressional motion didn’t end the dispute, though. On March 14 last year, a conservative advocacy group, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven DC residents who objected to the law. According to the suit, the law violates their Fifth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection and deprives them of their right to citizen self-government.

The DC Board of Elections retaliated by asking the court to dismiss the suit, and on March 21, the US District Court for the District of Columbia reached its decision. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring it.

Judge Argues No Harm Done

Explaining her decision in a 12-page opinion, Jackson said the plaintiffs had failed to show how allowing noncitizens to vote or run for office harmed them. She said their votes wouldn’t be given less weight than a noncitizen’s, and they wouldn’t lose representation on DC legislative bodies. Because they couldn’t show that they were suffering any harm from the law and were “simply raising a generalized grievance,” –- in other words, they don’t think noncitizens should be allowed to vote –- she ruled they had no legal standing to challenge the law in court.

The IRLI has already said it will appeal the ruling. In a statement, it said the case is “just beginning” and that they’d always known the issue would be decided at a higher level than a district court. It added that the court had “refused even to consider” the key issue of whether US citizens have a right to govern themselves—a right, they say, that is endangered by DC’s noncitizen voting law.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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