Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging DC noncitizen voting law

A federal judge on Thursday tossed a conservative legal group’s lawsuit against a controversial Washington, D.C., law that allows noncitizens — including illegal immigrants and foreign embassy staff members — to vote in municipal elections.

In a 12-page opinion, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the plaintiffs, a group of U.S. citizen voters represented by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), lacked standing to challenge the law because they could not demonstrate how they are harmed by noncitizens who vote and run for local office.

The complaint “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,'” Jackson wrote.

“They identify nothing that has been taken away or diminished and no right that has been made subordinate to anyone else’s.”

WASHINGTON DC LAW ALLOWING NONCITIZENS TO VOTE IN ELECTIONS CHALLENGED BY LAWSUIT

Voters head into the polling place at the Cleveland Park Public Library in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8, 2022. A law passed in 2022 permits noncitizen residents to vote in D.C. local elections.  (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The Local Resident Voting Rights Act, passed by the D.C. Council in October 2022, states that if a noncitizen is otherwise qualified to vote, they can do so in local elections so long as they have resided in Washington, D.C., for at least 30 days. It also permits noncitizen residents to run for D.C. government offices and serve on the city’s Board of Elections, according to court documents.

READ THE JUDGE’S OPINION BELOW – APP USERS, CLICK HERE:

The law proved highly controversial and prompted an unsuccessful effort in Congress to overturn it. The IRLI lawsuit claimed that by permitting noncitizens to vote, the law “dilutes the vote of every U.S. citizen voter in the District.”

“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 legal group argued.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS STORM US BORDER IN EL PASO, KNOCK OVER GUARDS AMID STANDOFF OVER TEXAS LAW

A couple checks their ballots before dropping them in a ballot box on Election Day at Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8, 2022. A conservative legal group challenged D.C.’s nonresident voting law, arguing it dilutes the vote of citizen voters. 

Plaintiffs asked the court to issue an injunction that would halt enforcement of the law and prevent the Board of Elections from registering noncitizens to vote or counting their votes.

However, the judge agreed with the defendants that the complaint should be dismissed because the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue.

“In sum, plaintiffs have not alleged that they have personally been subjected to any sort of disadvantage as individual voters by virtue of the fact that noncitizens are permitted to vote, too,” Jackson wrote.

7.2 MILLION ILLEGALS ENTERED THE US UNDER BIDEN ADMIN, AN AMOUNT GREATER THAN POPULATION OF 36 STATES

A voter casts a ballot on Election Day at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8, 2022. A federal judge tossed the lawsuit against D.C.’s nonresident voting law, ruling that plaintiffs lacked standing to sue.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“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 continued.

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

The Immigration Reform Law Institute vowed to appeal Jackson’s decision.

“This case is only just beginning. 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,” said Christopher Hajec, IRLI director of litigation.

“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,” Hajec added.

The D.C. Board of Elections declined to comment.

New York City passed a similar bill that also had a 30-day requirement in December 2021. That bill quickly faced a legal challenge, and in June 2022, a New York judge ruled that it was illegal, violating the state’s constitution. A state appeals court upheld that decision in January.

Fox News Digital’s Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Chris Pandolfo is a writer for Fox News Digital. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ChrisCPandolfo.

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