Here is a very interesting item from How Appealing: A lawsuit that challenges the denial of presidential electors to Puerto Rico is going to a rehearing en banc before the First Circuit Court of Appeals. (En banc rehearing is when all the active judges of a circuit court review a decision made by a three judge panel of the same circuit; it is viewed as the only way to overturn a circuit precedent without Supreme Court intervention.)
Apparently a district court in Puerto Rico (which is part of the Boston-based First Circuit) ordered the government to grant electoral votes to Puerto Rico in 2000, only to be overturned by the First Circuit. The current suit, which claims the denial of electoral votes violates equal protection guarantees and several international treaties, was thrown out at the district court level. That decision was affirmed over a fairly scathing dissent by Judge Juan R. Torruella, the Puerto Rico-based member of the First Circuit. Torruella's dissent, which can be accessed here (pdf; scroll down) highlights the bizarre status of the island, where everyone is born a United States citizen but can't vote for federal officials unless they move to the mainland.
The en banc rehearing is limited to the question whether the inability of U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico to vote in the presidential election violates the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS. This is probably a good time to remind everyone that ratified treaties are the law of the land, so no whining about American judges considering the opinions of foreigners will be tolerated here.
Regardless, this is an issue that should go to the Supreme Court and should get lots of attention in the political arena as well. Not just because three more electoral votes could change the result of an election in 50-50 America (ask Al Gore), but because the status of Puerto Rico needs to be part of the national dialogue. We say we want to spread democracy around the world, but we've got an island with millions of citizens who don't get a say in how the federal government runs.
I personally favor abolishing the Electoral College and having direct election of the president, but if we are going to keep it Puerto Rico ought to have a voice. (I'll leave aside the sticky question of independence for now, except to note that the principle of self-determination means that has to be an option too.) It makes no sense that a Puerto Rican in Colorado gets to vote for president but one on the island does not.