Court won’t hear Puerto Rico appeal

The United States Supreme Court will pass on hearing a case from Puerto Rico residents who want a voting representative in the House.

The court decided on Monday to not consider an appeal requesting a vote in Congress for the territory.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld a lower court decision to toss out a lawsuit seeking the vote, saying that only a state could have voting members in Congress. The Supreme Court passed on hearing an appeal of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

As a territory, Puerto Rico residents have U.S. citizenship, and they can serve in the military, but they can’t vote in presidential elections. (However, Puerto Rico has a role in the presidential primary system.)

Puerto Rico has one nonvoting congressional representative who is called a Representative Commissioner. The Commissioner serves a four-year term and can vote in House committees.

According to a 2011 briefing paper from the Congressional Research Service, there have been efforts to grant more state-like rights to Puerto Rico, over the years, without the territory becoming a state.

But there has been little success in gaining benefits like a voting House representative or other measures beyond what other U.S. territories have.

The last public vote on changing Puerto Rico’s status was in 1998, when a plebiscite held in the territory was inconclusive.

El Nuevo Dia, a popular news website in Puerto Rico, said attorney Gregorio Igartua had filed other appeals in past years unsuccessfully in the case.

Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of Constitution Daily.