Federal judge upholds DC law allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections

The judge claimed that the plaintiffs did not have standing as their votes did not count less under the law.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
On Thursday, a federal judge tossed out a lawsuit challenging a Washington, D.C. law that allows non-citizens to vote in local elections. This includes illegal immigrants and foreign embassy staff members, per Fox News.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a 12-page opinion ruling that stated the lawsuit lacked standing because the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how they are harmed by non-citizens who vote in local elections and run for office. The suit was filed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), which is a conservative legal group based in Washington, D.C.

Jackson wrote that the complaint "Does not include facts showing plaintiffs' right to vote has been denied, that they have been subjected to discrimination or inequitable treatment or denied opportunities when compared to another group, or that their rights as citizens have been ‘subordinated merely because of [their] father's country of origin.'"

"They identify nothing that has been taken away or diminished and no right that has been made subordinate to anyone else's," said Jackson.

In October 2022, the D.C. Council passed the Local Resident Voting Rights Act which permits non-citizens to vote in Washington, D.C. elections as long as they have been residents in the jurisdiction for at least 30 days. The law also allows them to run for local office and serve on the city's Board of Elections.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute argued in the suit that the law is in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution and "dilutes the vote of every US citizen voter in the District."

"Because it does so, the DC Noncitizen Voting Act is subject to review under both the equal protection and the substantive due process components of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the IRLI argued.

The plaintiffs requested an injunction from the court to stop the law's implementation and stop the Board of Elections from registering and counting votes from non-citizens.

Judge Jackson dismissed the suit on grounds that it lacked standing and wrote: "In sum, plaintiffs have not alleged that they have personally been subjected to any sort of disadvantage as individual voters by virtue of the fact that noncitizens are permitted to vote, too."

"They may object as a matter of policy to the fact that immigrants get to vote at all, but their votes will not receive less weight or be treated differently than noncitizens' votes; they are not losing representation in any legislative body; nor have citizens as a group been discriminatorily gerrymandered, ‘packed' or ‘cracked’ to divide, concentrate, or devalue their votes," Jackson continued. "At bottom, they are simply raising a generalized grievance which is insufficient to confer standing."

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