March 14, 2023
New law weakens the votes of American citizens in our nation’s capital
WASHINGTON—Today, a District of Columbia law allowing aliens—including illegal aliens and even foreign diplomats—who reside in the city to vote in municipal elections went into effect. Simultaneously, IRLI, representing Stacia Hall, the Republican candidate for D.C. mayor in 2022, and also six other U.S. citizen D.C. voters, brought suit to strike down the law.
The suit points out that the extension of the vote from U.S. citizens to aliens automatically dilutes the votes of U.S. citizens. Such vote dilution based on citizenship status violates the fundamental constitutional right to vote of the plaintiffs, and denies them the equal protection of the law, if that dilution lacks an adequate justification.
No justification for this law can stand against the sovereign interest that all American citizens have in the democratic self-government of their country. As the Supreme Court has held repeatedly, the body politic of this nation consists of its citizens, and the right to govern is “reserved” to them. Voting, as the Court has repeatedly recognized, is at the foundation of this right to citizen self-government.
“This law—and others like it that are popping up around the country—is a direct attack on American self-government,” said Christopher Hajec, IRLI’s director of litigation. “The proponents of this law claim it gives citizens of foreign nations a ‘voice’ in the affairs of the city they reside in. But they already have a voice, protected by the First Amendment. They are free to speak, write, attend council meetings, and so on. This law doesn’t just give foreign citizens a voice in our country’s affairs, it gives them voting power that politicians inevitably will have to respond to. That transfer of power flies in the face of the clear right of the American people to govern themselves.”
“The sovereign of this democratic nation is the people, U.S. citizens,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “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 sees how at variance with the Constitution this law is, and strikes it down to protect our American democracy.”
The case is Hall, et al., v. DC Board of Elections.
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