Home Court Cases Sam Smith on D.C. Circuit's Decision on Two Lawsuit for Increased Democracy for D.C.
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Sam Smith on D.C. Circuit's Decision on Two Lawsuit for Increased Democracy for D.C. E-mail
From Sam Smith's The Progressive Review for 3/21/00: 
NEWS FROM THE COLONIES

A special three-judge federal court has tossed aside two suits seeking 
increased democracy in the capital colony of Washington DC. One of the suits 
addressed only the issue of congressional representation [Alexander v. Daley] while the second 
[Adams v. Clinton] (in which your editor was a plaintiff) argued that the denial of 
self-government as well as lack of representation were unconstitutional. The 
latter suit made its case in part on the fact that thousands of federal 
enclaves (such as military bases, national parks, and the NIH) are covered 
under the same constitutional provision granting Congress exclusive 
jurisdiction, but only DC residents are denied full citizenship.

The court failed to address this issue, and instead took nearly a year to 
conclude in effect that not only were the rights sought unprotected by the 
Constitution but that residents of the District could not even confront the 
question in court. The attorney for the full rights suit, George LaRoche
said: "The plaintiffs went to court with hats in hands, respectful of the 
court, asking only to be heard on the record, given an opportunity to 
present arguments and facts in support of their claims.  If the court found 
the plaintiffs' claims and arguments lacking, the court could have said so 
directly and explained why directly. But the court has avoided addressing 
the claims and arguments."

The court also ignored major differences in the two suits. The congressional 
voting rights case, a favorite of the city's colonial elite for nearly a 
century, would have provided DC with little substantive power, leaving the 
city not unlike the erstwhile colony of Algeria, which had representation in 
the French National Assembly but still lacked self-government. This status 
appeals to many of the Washington establishment who are seeking a portal to 
national politics as lawyers, lobbyists, and power brokers and care little 
about self-determination for the majority black capital.

The second suit essentially demanded all the rights of American citizenship. 
One of the plaintiffs, an American Indian, noted that if he returned to the 
reservation he would have more rights than he does as a resident of DC.

As things now stand, the federal judiciary has declared DC residents to be 
third-class Americans under the Constitution without judicial remedy for 
their condition. Further, the decision can be properly, and without 
exaggeration, called racist, as it perpetuates prejudice by official fiat.

It is expected that the cases will be appealed to the Supreme Court and to 
Organization of American States, since the city's status violates that 
group's charter. 

[For more information on the two lawsuits, including the complete pleadings, go to: http://standupfordemocracy.org/20citizens/]

 

 
Home Court Cases Sam Smith on D.C. Circuit's Decision on Two Lawsuit for Increased Democracy for D.C.

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