DC residents sue for voting rights in Congress
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DC residents sue for voting rights in Congress

Ten District of Columbia residents on Monday flied a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking full voting rights in both chambers of Congress.

The plaintiffs claim that the denial of their voting rights violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection, due process, and the constitutional right of association.

The lawsuit makes a distinction with a previous legal action in 2000 (Adams v. Clinton) in which the court ruled that DC residents do not have a constitutional right to vote for members of Congress. The plaintiffs in this action argue that “the decision in the previous case does not preclude the constitutional challenges in this complaint because plaintiffs here make three constitutional challenges that were not advanced by the Adams plaintiffs, were not decided by the Adams court, and are based on subsequent legal developments.”

Specifically on the issue of equal protection, the suit states that “enclaves residents are allowed to vote for members of the House and Senate, yet Congress has refused to exercise its authority to afford voting representation to DC.”

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit have diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Some are native-born residents of DC who have been politically active for years, and some moved to DC from other states and used to be able to vote for representatives in their home states.

Mr. Alper, one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, thinks “it is unfair that DC residents cannot elect voting representatives in the House of Representatives and Senate since the United States is founded on the principle that all citizens have a voice and a vote.”

Ms. Castañon, another plaintiff in this lawsuit, worries that such a lack of voting rights means they missed out influencing decisions that affect them. She believes “it is unfair that DC residents lack full voting rights, despite paying federal taxes and despite the fact that the District’s population is larger than that of other States.”

In fact, like other citizens of the US, DC residents have long fulfilled and continue to fulfill their responsibilities of citizenship, and they have supported and continue to support their national government. In FY 2017, individuals living in the District paid approximately $26 billion in federal taxes. This amount is greater than the total federal income taxes paid by individuals in 23 States. Also, the individual plaintiffs in this law suit are representative of the more than 690,000 United States citizens residing in DC.

The suit seeks a declaratory and, if necessary, injunctive relief to give the plaintiffs, along with all DC residents, a right to vote in future elections for members of the House and Senate.