Supreme Court rules against legal effort to give District of Columbia a voting member of Congress

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court Monday ruled against an effort to give District of Columbia residents a voting member in the House of Representatives.

In summary fashion, the justices affirmed a lower court's ruling against the Washington residents who filed the suit.

Eleven Washingtonians had brought a novel legal theory to the perennial question of representation for those in the nation's capital, arguing in part that the Constitution already gives Congress the power to grant voting representation in the House.

"Residents of the District of Columbia are the only adult American citizens subject to federal income taxes who lack voting representation in Congress, except for felons in some states," the plaintiffs told the Supreme Court in a brief earlier this year.

A three-judge panel rejected their argument last year, relying on a similar case from 2000 in which a federal court noted that the Constitution directs House members to be chosen "by the people of the several states." Because Washingtonians don't live in a "state," the lower court said at the time, they're out of luck.

The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling at the time.

Washington, D.C. on Sept. 29, 2021.
Washington, D.C. on Sept. 29, 2021.

Plaintiffs in the more recent case pointed to instances in which voters have been permitted to cast ballots despite not living in a state, such as military voters stationed overseas. But the lower court said in a footnote that the discussion of military voters wasn't relevant to the suit.

Advocates for decades have sought statehood for the district, an idea that has met with fierce GOP opposition because it would add Democratic members to Congress. Last year marked the first time a D.C. statehood bill cleared either chamber of Congress.

The city is currently represented in the House by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a nonvoting Democrat.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court rules against giving D.C. a vote in the House