WASHINGTON (CN) – As millions of Americans head to the polls, 10 voters from Washington, D.C., brought a federal complaint to protest their denial of representation in Congress.
Represented by the firm Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis, the voters say their fundamental right to representation has been denied “for no just reason” despite multiple petitions over the years.
Distinguishing their case from unsuccessful ones past, however, the voters note that their “claims … are not dependent on district residents being characterized as citizens of a ‘state.’”
“Instead, it is based on Congress’s refusal to exercise its authority to protect the voting rights of District residents in the face of its recognition, post-Adams, that it has the power to do so,” the complaint continues.
In the 2000 case Adams v. Clinton, a three-judge panel of judges in U.S. District Court rejected due-process and equal-protection challenges on behalf of the D.C. residents.
But the new complaint, which is led by Angelica Castanon, emphasizes that by contrast “the present plaintiffs do not rely on Article I, Section 2 for their claims.”
“Rather, unlike the Adams plaintiffs, the plaintiffs here contend that they are constitutionally entitled to voting representation notwithstanding that they are not residents of a state and that legislative and legal developments after Adams entitle them to that representation,” the complaint continues.
Castanon and the other plaintiffs note that the denial of national voting representation has excluded them from various benefits.
“For example, the district receives a smaller amount of federal funds than many states,” the complaint states. “Without voting representation in the House and the Senate, district residents are unable to rely on local champions in Congress arguing for a fairer distribution of federal funds. This denial constitutes a real and substantial injury. “
Contrasting their situation with those of other U.S. taxpayers, including Americans living overseas, the D.C. voters say they are denied the chance to “band together to present grievances to a representative and two senators who represent them.”
Even in legislation on purely local issues, the complaint emphasizes, “Americans living in the district are subject to laws enacted by a Congress in which they have no voting representation— and in addition to national matters, these laws also concern local matters of critical importance that are traditionally committed to state governments in our constitutional framework.”
“As a result, on issues as wide-ranging as funding of infrastructure and the setting of educational standards and the minimum wage, Congress has overridden the will of Americans in the district, all without any accountability,” the complaint continues. “To the voters affected by those decisions, these deprivations constitute concrete harm and constitutional injury.”
The complaint names the United States, President Donald Trump and another of other officials as defendants. Neither the Department of Justice nor attorneys at Harris Wiltshire have responded to requests for comment.