Obama-appointed judge dismisses challenge to D.C. law allowing noncitizens to vote

An Obama-appointed judge has tossed out a lawsuit challenging a Washington, D.C. law that allows noncitizens to vote in local elections.

Filed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) on behalf of seven D.C. residents, the suit alleged that the D.C. Noncitizen Voting Act passed in 2022 dilutes the votes of actual citizens.

“Because it does so, the D.C. 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.

But Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed to the court by then-President Barack Obama in 2011, staunchly disagreed, arguing in a 12-page ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate how they were harmed by the law.

“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,” the judge wrote.

“At bottom, they are simply raising a generalized grievance which is insufficient to confer standing,” she continued.

Jackson added that the lawsuit “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,” she concluded.

Berman is the same judge who sentenced Roger Stone to 40 months in prison way back in 2020:

The IRLI has vowed to appeal the ruling.

“This case is only just beginning,” IRLI director of litigation Christopher Hajec said to Fox News. “It was always going to be decided at a higher level than a U.S. district court. We will appeal this flawed and limited decision to the D.C. Circuit, and ask that court to decide — as the district court refused even to consider — whether American citizens have a right to govern themselves, and what that right entails.”

“The very notion of our nation’s independence is threatened by this law and others like it. The sovereignty of the people — and that means citizens — is basic to our theory of democratic self-rule, as the Supreme Court has held again and again. We seek a precedent spelling that out at the highest level,” he continued.

“At stake is the sovereignty of the American people over this country,” Hajec added in an email to The Washington Post. “The courts’ consideration of this vitally-important case has just begun.”

Supporters of the D.C. Noncitizen Voting Act were, for their part, thrilled by Jackson’s ruling.

Jose Barrios, the president of the D.C. Latino Caucus, told the Post he was “quite happy to hear that we’re going to have more democracy, not less in the District of Columbia.”

“We think that if people are here, if they’re paying their taxes, they are running small businesses, employing people or being employed in our city, having their kids in our schools and participating in the local economics of our city, then they should have a voice in local politics,” Barrios said.

Critics disagreed and fired back by slamming Jackson’s ruling:

Vivek Saxena

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