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Federal Court Rejects Congressional Representation for District of Columbia

March 22, 2000

A federal court panel ruled Monday that District residents do not have a legal right to a vote in Congress, dealing a blow to a coalition of community leaders and political activists who hoped their arguments about fairness and democratic principles would help overturn 199 years of federal tradition.

In its 2 to 1 decision, the panel acknowledged that it is an "inequity" that D.C. residents may not choose voting members in Congress as residents of the 50 states do. But the court majority said that the Constitution and Supreme Court have created a precedent for that inequity and that those seeking voting rights for the District should turn to the political process, not the courts.

Well, the issue of D.C. Congressional representation and home rule has made its way into the presidential election season. In a TV interview last month, Texas Governor George W. Bush expressed his position against full voting rights and statehood for the District. "I remained concerned about the District’s education system and the fact that many of its agencies continue to remain under the supervision of the courts," Bush said. He added that "Because I respect the design of the Framers of the Constitution that our nation’s capital remain independent of any individual state, I do not support statehood for the District of Columbia."


  • Eleanor Holmes Norton, Delegate from the District of Columbia. She has been involved with the case Alexander et al. v. Daley et al., which wanted the court to order Congress to find a way to let D.C. residents to elect full Senators and Representatives. Call: 202.225.8050.
  • George Laroche, lawyer for Adams et al. v. Clinton et al., which wanted the court to make it possible for D.C. residents to choose statehood or unite with another state such as Maryland.

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