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Supreme Court says D.C. isn't entitled to voting member in U.S. House

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Supreme Court says D.C. isn't entitled to voting member in U.S. House
A member of the League of Women Voters protests the lack of voting rights for Washington, D.C., residents, outside the White House. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- On the opening day of its October term, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling Monday that said Washington, D.C., is not entitled to a voting representative in the U.S. House.

The high court affirmed a lower court decision that said Washington's campaign for statehood and a voting member of the House should go through Congress, not the federal courts.

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In its decision, the court pointed to a similar 2000 case in which justices made the same determination.

Several Washington residents filed the suit in 2014 and there have been multiple unsuccessful attempts in Congress for voting representation and statehood, a separate but similar issue.

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Residents in the district have argued that their lack of voting representation violates their right to equal protection.

"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," attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote, according to CNN.

Before the Supreme Court's move on Monday, lower courts ruled against the plaintiffs last year. Their lawsuit pointed out that D.C. residents can vote in federal elections, even though they don't live in a "state."

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Most Republican lawmakers have generally opposed representation for D.C. in the House. As reflected by its electorate, any voting member of the House from D.C. would almost certainly be a Democrat.

The District of Columbia has almost 700,000 residents and one House delegate, presently Eleanor Holmes Norton. She does not have voting power, however. Other U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also have a House delegate, but no voting representative.

Lack of representation has been a contentious matter in the district for decades. One of D.C.'s license plates even carries the phrase, "Taxation Without Representation" to draw attention to the issue.

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The Senate governmental affairs committee heard arguments for statehood in July and the House passed a bill on the issue earlier this year.

Monday was the high court's first day of its October term, which runs until June. The court is scheduled to decide a number of cases and issues, including religious freedoms.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the court in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Seated, from left to right, are Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing, from left to right, are Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. Pool Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

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