Sam Smith – Or on the Supreme Court for that matter.
I admit to some personal bias in this, but because I was one of 19 plaintiffs in a case that went before DC’s Federal Appeals Court that not only affected me but all the other deprived citizens of the nation’s capital.
After Garland and the other federal judges in 2000 ruled against us and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the Washington Post interviewed our lawyer George LaRoche. An excerpt:
Washington Post Thanks for joining us today, George. To start, can you tell us a little about Adams v. Clinton, and what it wanted to accomplish?
George S. LaRoche: Adams was filed to ask the Court to restrain Congress from treating the residents of the District differently than it treats all other people who live or have lived where Congress has or has had identical powers under the Constitution, as Congress wields over the District. In short, the case seeks to vindicate District residents’ rights to equal treatment under the Constitution.
What was the legal basis for the Appeals Court’s decision? How about for the Supremes’ decision not to have argument?
George S. LaRoche: The three-judge District Court gave no reasons for dismissing the claims in Adams. They gave extensive reasons for dismissing the claims in another case consolidated with Adams (Alexander v. Daley), but those reasons don’t go against Adams, since Adams was based on different theories and arguments. We don’t know why the Court didn’t address our arguments. The Supreme Court’s decision means only that they didn’t want to take the case, since the only thing they could “affirm” was dismissal of the claims.
And so, DC remains today a colony of the United States.
PS: Another reason I remember that case is because the hearing offered a fine insight into the culture, rather than just the politics, of the capital colony. Someone had called the police to warn falsely that we plaintiffs would be causing a disturbance at the federal courthouse. I arrived there the morning of the hearing about the same time as Rev. Graylan Hagler, another plaintiff. We passed a row of helmeted police officers aggressively holding their batons horizontally and enter the courthouse where the Watergate and other famous trials had been held. A black US Marshall comes up and asks, “Can I help you gentlemen?” Graylan asks where we can get some coffee and the Marshall points down the stair, adding, “I’ve been to your church, Reverend. One of my men is on your vestry. Let’s go bless him.” A bit later, the pair returns and the Marshall shakes hands with each of the plaintiffs and leads us to some of the best seats in the courtroom. From violent threat to honored guests in less than five minutes.