WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the attempt to give a voting member resident in the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives.
In essence, the justices upheld the lower court’s decision against Washington residents who filed suit.
Eleven Washingtonians brought a novel legal principle to the perennial question of representation for those in the nation’s capital, arguing that the Constitution already gives Congress the power to vote representation in the House.
Plaintiffs told the Supreme Court in a brief earlier this year, “Residents of the District of Columbia are the only adult U.S. citizens subject to federal income taxes who lack voting representation in Congress, except for felonies in some states.”
panel of three judges rejected their argument last year, relying on a similar case from 2000 in which a federal court noted that the Constitution directs members of the House to be elected “by the people of several states.” Because Washingtonians do not live in the “state,” the lower court said at the time, they are out of luck.
In a recent case, the plaintiffs pointed to instances in which voters have been allowed to cast ballots despite not living in the state, such as military voters stationed overseas. But the lower court said in a footnote that the discussion of military voters was not relevant to the suit.
For decades advocates have sought statehood for the district, an idea that has been met with fierce GOP opposition because it would add Democratic members to Congress. Last year marked the first time the DC state bill passed either house of Congress.
The city is currently represented in the House by Dale Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting Democrat.