Puerto Ricans’ chances of winning a right to vote in U.S. elections are as close now as at any time in American history. A First Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week has set up the conditions needed for the Supreme Court to review the possibility of voting rights for Puerto Rico’s four million residents.
The appeals court deadlocked 3-to-3 on whether to hear a case in which a lower court already denied Puerto Ricans a right to vote. A tied vote means any previous rulings are left to stand. The issue has arisen previously in the federal courts but never when there was a Supreme Court justice of Puerto Rican ancestry and presidential candidates were working so hard to win Hispanic votes.
The Boston-based First Circuit ruled in a lawsuit by Puerto Rican attorney Gregorio Igartua, who seeks to win a right for Puerto Ricans to elect voting members of Congress and to vote for president.
Puerto Ricans hold American citizenship and can vote in presidential primaries, but not in general elections. There is a Puerto Rican delegate to Congress now but he cannot vote on legislation.
The court already ruled against Puerto Rican voting rights six years ago by relying on a provision of the Constitution that says the right to vote is “limited to the citizens of the states.”
Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, not a state. Puerto Ricans would be allowed to vote in U.S. elections only if Congress passes a constitutional amendment or if the territory became a state, the First Circuit’s previous ruling said.
Full Article: Puerto Rico edges closer to U.S. voting rights | AHN.