The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a lawsuit challenging Washington, DC’s, new law that expands voting privileges to certain noncitizens.
IRLI filed its lawsuit on behalf of seven D.C. residents, including two former Republican candidates, who oppose the district’s recently enacted Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act.
Effective as of last month, that law allows certain non-U.S. citizen D.C. residents to vote in local elections provided they reach specific criteria.
As Law360 reported:
The law allows noncitizen residents who have lived in D.C. for at least a month leading up to a local election to vote for mayor, D.C. Council, D.C. attorney general, the district’s education board and hyperlocal advisory neighborhood commissions. Qualified voters can also cast ballots on local initiatives and referendums, but they cannot vote in federal elections.
In order to qualify under the new law, noncitizen residents must present a government-issued identification card and must rescind any voting rights they hold in any other state, territory or country, according to the law.
The D.C. Council approved the law in October, and Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser signed it in November. Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed a disapproval resolution to nullify D.C.’s noncitizen voting law, the U.S. Senate failed to act before the statutory deadline, allowing the law to go into effect in February.
IRLI’s lawsuit argues the D.C. law violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and Americans’ constitutional right to self-government.
“In review under the Fifth Amendment, no interest that may be asserted to justify the D.C. Noncitizen Voting Act can stand against the compelling government interests recognized in these holdings, that U.S. citizens have in governing themselves,” the lawsuit states.
IRLI also argues that noncitizen votes would dilute the votes of American citizens.
As IRLI noted in a press release:
The suit points out that the extension of the vote from U.S. citizens to aliens automatically dilutes the votes of U.S. citizens. Such vote dilution based on citizenship status violates the fundamental constitutional right to vote of the plaintiffs, and denies them the equal protection of the law, if that dilution lacks an adequate justification.
No justification for this law can stand against the sovereign interest that all American citizens have in the democratic self-government of their country.
As the Supreme Court has held repeatedly, the body politic of this nation consists of its citizens, and the right to govern is “reserved” to them. Voting, as the Court has repeatedly recognized, is at the foundation of this right to citizen self-government.
IRLI litigation director Christopher Hajec said the D.C. law “is a direct attack on American self-government.”
This law—and others like it that are popping up around the country—is a direct attack on American self-government. The proponents of this law claim it gives citizens of foreign nations a ‘voice’ in the affairs of the city they reside in. But they already have a voice, protected by the First Amendment. They are free to speak, write, attend council meetings, and so on. This law doesn’t just give foreign citizens a voice in our country’s affairs, it gives them voting power that politicians inevitably will have to respond to. That transfer of power flies in the face of the clear right of the American people to govern themselves.
The lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court, which is D.C.’s equivalent to state-level courts.
The case is Hall et al. v. D.C. Board of Elections, in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.
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Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
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