IRLI Takes Aim at San Francisco Alien Voting Law

Press Releases

March 17, 2023

Shows California Appeals Court that law violates the Constitution

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief before a California state appellate court in a case in which citizen voters challenge a San Francisco alien voting law. The law gives the right to vote in school board elections to alien residents of the city. A trial court struck down the law under the California Constitution, which reserves the right to vote to citizens, and San Francisco brought this appeal.

In its brief, IRLI shows why the law violates the Equal Protection Clauses of both the federal Constitution and the California Constitution. United States citizens should be considered a protected class under both provisions, IRLI argues, and thus the San Francisco law, which automatically dilutes the votes of every American citizen in San Francisco, 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.”

“We are fighting this law and others like it around it around the country—including in our nation’s capital—because they erode the People’s democratic sovereignty over this country,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “And that erosion will spread. 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 Lacy v. City and County of San Francisco, No. A165899 (Cal. App. Dist. 1 Div. 5).

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.