Can Aliens Vote in School Board Elections?

Press Releases

June 7, 2023

IRLI shows Vermont court that law violates the Constitution

WASHINGTON—Last Friday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) submitted a brief before a Vermont trial court in a case challenging a law the City of Winooski, Vermont, had enacted giving the right to vote in school board elections to alien residents of the city. This and other laws like it scattered across the country are an affront to, and an infringement on, the sovereignty of the people of the United States, and represent a simmering threat to that sovereignty on a larger scale.

In its brief, IRLI shows why the Winooski law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution and the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution. United States citizens should be considered a protected class under both provisions, IRLI argues, and thus the Winooski law, which automatically dilutes the votes of every American citizen in Winooski, can only stand under either constitution if it is necessary to serve a compelling governmental interest.

No governmental interest in giving the vote to aliens can be compelling, IRLI argues, because doing so necessarily infringes on the fundamental sovereign interest, recognized again and again by the U.S. Supreme Court, of U.S. citizens in the democratic self-government of their country. Aliens are “by definition outside of” the political community of the United States, as the Supreme Court has put it, and “the right to govern [and to vote] is reserved to citizens.”

“This law is an attack on the very idea of American nationhood,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The sovereign of this democratic nation is the people, U.S. citizens. When their power is eroded, our nation begins to lose its independence. And that erosion will escalate. If laws like this are not struck down, next there will be calls in many states to allow aliens to vote in statewide and even federal elections. We hope the court is assisted by our brief, and invalidates this assault on the sovereignty of the American people.”

The case is Weston v. City of Winooski, Vermont, No. 23-CV-00998 (Vermont Sup. Ct., Chittenden Unit).

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