When President Obama announced Wednesday that he would nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) held her applause.

Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in Congress, has long been one of the city’s chief proponents for voting representation in Congress — and Garland ruled in a landmark case on the issue in 2000 that the residents of the city do not have the constitutional right to such representation. The Supreme Court later affirmed that decision, although it did not hear oral arguments in the case.

“Norton and other officials and residents were deeply disappointed with the decision, even though they realized that the case was one of first impression,” a Wednesday statement from Norton’s office read. “Norton has not yet had the opportunity to look into Judge Garland’s 19-year record on the federal court and before, but she said that especially considering that the District has no senators, she believes that the Senate must fulfill its constitutional obligation to give Judge Garland a fair hearing so that he may be questioned about the D.C. case and the rest of his record.”

Garland, who is the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is widely considered to be a moderate, was part of a three-judge federal panel to preside over the Alexander v. Daley case in March 2000.

Garland, a Maryland resident, noted the inequity of Washington’s lack of voting representation in the majority opinion, but he effectively said that the city is not a state, and the constitution only grants congressional voting representation to state residents. This battle, the opinion noted, was one better fought through policy than in the courts.

“Many courts have found a contradiction between the democratic ideals upon which this country was founded and the exclusion of District residents from congressional representation,” the panel’s majority opinion read, which Garland was joined by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. “All, however, have concluded that it is the Constitution and judicial precedent that create the contradiction.”

The cause of voting representation, and of statehood, has support among the city’s largely liberal residents. A November 2015 Washington Post poll found that nearly three in four residents say they are upset that the District has no voting representation in Congress, and about half describe themselves as “very upset” over the issue.

The possible strategy behind Obama's Supreme Court pick (Claritza Jimenez, Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Still, the fight has failed to gain much traction outside the District. Jamie B. Raskin, the lawyer who represented Washington in Alexander v. Daley, noted in 2010 when Garland’s name was floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee that conservatives would have pounced on him during the nomination process had he voted in favor of D.C. voting rights.

“Garland took the more conventional view that a state is a state and the residents of the District of Columbia cannot be treated as citizens of a state, even for a fundamental purpose like voting rights,” Raskin, who is now a Maryland state senator, said on the Kojo Nnamdi Show” in 2010. “Had he decided the other way, the conservatives would have been all over him in the process. But he took the more safer, conventional view.”

In the dissenting opinion, Judge Louis Oberdorfer wrote that basic democratic principles demanded that D.C. residents get a vote in Congress.

“A republican, that is representative, form of government is a keystone in the Constitution’s structure, a keystone hewn directly from the Declaration of Independence,” Oberdorfer wrote. “The denial of representation was one of the provocations that generated the declaration and the war that implemented it.”

While serving on what is often considered to be the most powerful court below the Supreme Court, Garland weighed in on a number of local issues, including a 1999 case that determined the District’s juvenile curfew was unconstitutional, although it did not rule that curfews in general were unconstitutional.

But perhaps the biggest slice of D.C. history that Garland partook in was the investigation of four-term D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. As an assistant U.S. attorney in the District, he was one of the prosecutors in the case who put the city’s mayor in jail on drug charges.

Judith E. Retchin, who is another former assistant U.S. attorney in the D.C. office and worked alongside Garland in the case, said that although Garland did not litigate the case in court, he was one of the three main prosecutors prepping the case for trial.

In the end, Barry was convicted of one count of cocaine possession, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on three felony counts of perjury before a federal grand jury. The judge who presided over the trial declared that Barry had “given aid, comfort and encouragement to the drug culture” and sentenced him to six months in prison and a year on probation.

Garland “gave invaluable advice, and worked with witnesses. He was invaluable to the case,” said Retchin, who is now a superior court judge in the District “He brings impeccable judgment to everything.”