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Federal court hears arguments on Puerto Ricans' right to vote

[JURIST] Puerto Rican attorney Gregorio Igartua argued Friday before the US First Circuit Court of Appeals that Puerto Ricans should be allowed to vote in the November US presidential election. The Justice Department argued in response that they could not be permitted to cast ballots unless and until Puerto Rico becomes a state or the US Constitution is amended to allow them to vote.

The First Circuit court has ruled on the general issue twice before, most recently in 2000; both times the court held in favor of the Justice Department. Igartua wants to separate the right to vote, which he considers a "civil rights issue," from the issue of statehood, a hotly debated topic in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are US citizens, and have been since 1917; they pay federal taxes to the United States and have been drafted into the US military. The court has not indicated when it will rule. AP has more. Read the opinion from the 2000 case here.

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