Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) announced that the House of Representatives has filed an amicus brief in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the denial of congressional voting rights to District of Columbia residents.
The brief “urges the Court to recognize the important constitutional interests at stake in enfranchising District residents, who should have a full and equal voice in the federal legislature,” Norton said in a news release issued this week.
The House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which consists of the top three Democratic leaders and the top two Republican leaders, authorized the filing. The Republican leaders dissented.
“I am grateful that the House, at the direction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn, filed a brief in support of voting rights for District of Columbia residents,” Norton said. “They have long fought for D.C. voting rights in many ways.”
For example, Norton said, in 2007, Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn worked closely with her to successfully pass a bill in the House that would have given D.C House voting rights, though the bill died in the Senate.
In 2009, after the Senate passed the bill, the House would have passed it again but for a National Rifle Association-backed amendment that would have eliminated D.C.’s gun violence prevention laws, she said.
“As we work to achieve statehood, I applaud DC Appleseed for initiating this promising lawsuit and the House for filing its own brief,” Norton said.
Not only do Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn support D.C. voting rights, they also support statehood for the District, which would give D.C. full voting rights and freedom from congressional interference.
Norton’s D.C. statehood bill, which has a record number of cosponsors (206) in the House and is endorsed by 61 national organizations, will have a hearing in the House Oversight and Reform Committee on July 24, the first House hearing on D.C. statehood in 26 years.
The committee will also hold a markup on the bill this year.
Earlier this year, the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping democracy reform bill that endorsed D.C. statehood, the first time either chamber has ever endorsed D.C. statehood.
The Senate companion to Norton’s D.C. statehood bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), also has a record number of cosponsors (32).
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said that D.C. statehood is “one of the top three voting rights priorities for Senate Democrats.”