Pro-American Group Sues D.C. over Expanded Noncitizen Voting

The Immigration Reform Law Institute filed a lawsuit against Washington, DC’s new law, which expands voting privileges to certain non-citizens.

IRLI filed the lawsuit on behalf seven D.C. residents including two former Republican candidates who were opposed to the recently enacted Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act.

The law, which became effective last month, allows certain non-U.S. citizens D.C. residents to vote in local elections if they meet specific criteria.

As Law360 reported:


Noncitizen residents can vote for the mayor, D.C. Council and D.C. attorney General if they have been in D.C. at least one month prior to a local election. Qualified voters are also eligible to vote on local initiatives or referendums. However, they cannot vote in federal elections.

Noncitizen residents will need to present a government-issued ID card to be eligible under the new law. They also have to revoke any voting rights they may have in any other country, territory, or state.

The law was approved by the D.C. Council in October and signed by Muriel Bowser, a Democrat mayor. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval to nullify D.C.’s noncitizen voting laws. However, the U.S. Senate failed before the deadline and the law went into effect in February.

IRLI claims that the D.C. law is in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clauses and Equal Protection Clauses, as well as the constitutional right of the United States to self-government.

The lawsuit states that “In review under Fifth Amendment, no interest may be claimed to justify D.C. Noncitizen Voting Act, but can stand against the compelling Government interests recognized in these holdings that U.S citizens have in governing themselves.”

IRLI also argues against noncitizen voting, arguing that it would reduce the vote of American citizens.

As IRLI stated in a press release

The suit argues that U.S. citizens are automatically diluted by the extension of their vote to non-citizens. This vote dilution on the basis of citizenship is a violation of the fundamental constitutional right of U.S. citizens to vote and denies them equal protection under the law if the dilution is not justified.

This law cannot be justified against the sovereign right that all Americans have to the democratic self-government in their country.

The Supreme Court repeatedly ruled that the nation’s body politic is made up of its citizens and that the right to govern them is “reserved”. As the Court repeatedly acknowledged, voting is the basis of citizen self-government.

Christopher Hajec, IRLI litigation director, stated that the D.C. law was “a direct attack against American self-government.”

Hajec said:

This law, and others similar to it that are appearing all over the country, is a direct attack against American self-government. This law is argued to give citizens of foreign countries a voice in the affairs of their city. They already have a voice protected by the First Amendment. They can speak, write and attend council meetings. The law gives foreign citizens the right to speak, write and attend council meetings. It also gives them the ability to vote. Politicians will undoubtedly have to answer to this voting power. This transfer of power is in direct contradiction to the American people’s right to govern themselves.

The suit was filed in District of Columbia Superior Court. This is D.C.’s equivalent to state-level court.

Hall v. D.C. Board of Elections in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia