D.C. Vote Unconstitutional:

Granting the District of Columbia a vote in Congress would likely be unconstitutional concludes a just-released report by the Congressional Research Service. The Washington Post reports here, and the CRS report itself is available here.

They needed to issue a report for this???
2.13.2007 9:50am
MnZ (mail):

They needed to issue a report for this???

My guess is that certain politicians wanted to be both for and against the DC vote.
2.13.2007 10:09am
New World Dan (www):

Perfect handle for posting that response :)

Personally, I'm of the opinion that most residential areas of DC should be returned Maryland. If I ever find a politician that listens to me, I'll be sure to let you know.
2.13.2007 10:12am
IIRC, part of the concern in setting up the nation's capital was that it not be part of any state, or subject to any state's jurisdiction.

So, I don't think any transfer of DC to Maryland and/or Virginia would be wise.
2.13.2007 10:24am

I think you misread New World Dan's suggestion. He's referring, I believe, to the residential-only areas primarily of NW (and presumably much of NE and SE as well) -- areas that have little if anything to do with the federal government itself. If those areas become "Maryland" rather than "DC," while the core federal government areas of DC remain "DC," then there is no problem with the nation's capital being subject to a state's jurisdiction.

The feds would still exercise exclusive JD over the district -- it would simply be much less than ten miles square (as it already has been reduced, in giving most of SW back to Virginia).
2.13.2007 10:28am

IIRC, part of the concern in setting up the nation's capital was that it not be part of any state, or subject to any state's jurisdiction.

The nation's capital was never intended to be a large metropolitan area with a substantial population. The poster suggested returning the residential areas to Maryland, as they were to Virginia. DC can keep Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court etc.
2.13.2007 10:33am
Wow, I'm surprised to say that the CRS report is...stupid.

Judging solely from the excerpt, it appears that they made the same mistake that the lower courts in NATIONAL MUT. INS. CO. OF DIST. OF COL. V. TIDEWATER TRANSFER CO. made; namely, they did not look to Congress's other powers. In Tidewater, the lower courts had found legislation allowing D.C. residents to sue in federal courts under diversity jurisdiction unconstitutional because the Constitution limits the Article III jurisdiction to cases between citizens of different states, and D.C. isn't a state. But the Supreme Court reversed, noting that Congress has plenary power over D.C., which includes the power to provide its citizens a remedy comperable to federal diversity jurisdiction.

The CRS report says that the power to govern D.C. does not include the power "sufficient to effectuate structural changes to the federal government," but ignores Art. I, Sec. 5, cl. 2, which says that "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings." If the House wants to adopt a rule that even votes are decided by a flip of the coin, or by Bozo the Clown, it can do so. Likewise, it can call an elected representative from D.C. a congressperson and let that person have a vote.
2.13.2007 10:35am
Alex R:
DJR --

I too thought that Congress's power to set its own rules could govern here, especially as I can see no text in the Constitution which specifies the vote required to pass a bill. (There is text about the vote required to override a veto, but not for initial passage.)

The CRS report considered this, but quoted the decision in Michel v. Anderson, in the Court of Appeals for DC, as saying that the Constitution "precludes the House from bestowing the characteristics of membership on someone other than those 'chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.'"
2.13.2007 10:47am
A. Zarkov (mail):
We should move a reduced form of Washington DC (parts without the residential areas) to the State of Washington near Seattle. The climate there is much better and now you can really say you're going to Washington. It would put the nation's capital on a good seaport, which would facilitate transportation to and from the capital. The food is better and healthier in Seattle than in DC and the people are much nicer. That might would put our Congressmen in a better mood. Anyone with allergies would certainly appreciate the move.
2.13.2007 10:48am
Zarkov: Yeah, but then instead of Washington, DC we'd have to call it DC, Washington.
2.13.2007 10:56am
DJR - generalizing on Alex R's response, the provision authorizing the House to determine its own rules authorizes them to make only rules that do not violate other constitutional provisions. The coin-flip rule is invalid because it would violate due process, and the DC-voting rule is invalid because it would violate the provision Alex R notes.
2.13.2007 11:00am
AppSocRes (mail):
DJR: I consulted for CRS. They have some of the sharpest minds and legal talent in the country working there. The CRS opinion is not stupid, but yours is, since it utterly ignores one of the clear constitutional criteria for being a member of Congress--that such members must represent and be elected by the people of a State: DC is not a State, neither is PR, Guam, American Samoa, the Grand Duchy of Fenwick, nor any other imaginary entity congressional Democrats might imagine utilizing to create an illicit majority in Congress. By your argument, Congress could arbitrarily add as many voting members as it wanted. I can't concieve how any deliberative/legislative body could operate for a moment under such an extraordinarily idiotic set of rules. This is a major attempt to subvert the Constitution for temporary political gain.

I hope that the next time the Republicans have control of Congress they finally put an end to these dangerous dimocrat shennanigans by returning to Maryland, as they earlier returned to Virginia, the part of DC that Maryland donated to the federal government in 1784(?). One benmefit would be finally removing that obnoxious twit, Eleanor Norton Holmes, from the national scene.
2.13.2007 11:03am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Having lived--and paid high taxes--in the District, I've concluded that the 'Statehood' group has grasped the argument by the wrong end.

Instead of seeking statehood, the citizenry of the District should be freed from paying federal taxes as their federal rights are less. Do away with the federal income tax on individuals--and perhaps corporations--and the District could raise its already substantial income tax to a 30% level. Taxpayers would still get a deal out of it and DC could have some real money in its budget.

Expand it to corporations and you'd see places like Delaware experiencing a dramatic departure of companies to friendlier climes.

Sure, this would effect dramatic demographic change, too. But that's okay by me. Cities and their residents change over time....

Disclosure: I do not own any DC real estate, though if my plan were to be effected, I'd hock everything I own to get some.
2.13.2007 11:13am
Doesn't retrocession require both Congressional and state (Maryland) approval? My understanding was that there may be some sentiment in favor of retrocession in Congress, but the Maryland government is opposed. There have been retrocession bills floating around for some time now - and Republicans have been supporting them in addition to relatively recent the Utah/DC swap that has been proposed - but those bills have been consistently blocked.

If one truly cares about the voting rights of DC residents, if retrocession is an impossibility, and if granting a vote to DC otherwise is unconstitutional, then there may be only one solution: Congress could exercise eminent domain over the entirety of Washington DC, turn the whole thing into a government office park, and kick everyone out. Presumably the (former) residents would move to other areas of the United States and would gain congressional representation thereby, and the voting problem of DC would disappear forever. A side benefit would be that the government would find itself with plenty of office space, so it could move many of the departments that have decamped to Maryland and Virginia back into the District; the savings from leaving all of those rentals in NoVA and Maryland would help somewhat with the cost of exercising eminent domain over the city.

Anyone have any clue as to the fair market value of all of the private land in DC?
2.13.2007 11:20am
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
Spitzer, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

As for retrocession... I live in Maryland. I don't think we would be particularly interested in increasing the state's population by 10%, and it's poverty and law enforcement problems by 40% overnight. On the plus side, a lot of the D.C. schools are grim enough that they could double as jails, which would eliminate overcrowding problems at Jessup. Maybe we just put the less violent offenders on work-release, and let them come home to the schools jails at night...

I'm only half joking about this. Even with reasonable fiscal management, D.C. has enormous problems, and no self-respecting / self-serving Maryland politician is going to be willing to take it on.
2.13.2007 11:32am
Orielbean (mail):
Zarkov, I think that if you moved the monuments and federal buildings to the nice state of Washington, the seventh seal would officially be broken. Then the giant would end up releasing Nyalarhotep on humanity from beyond this dimension. Unless you have a comprehensive plan to maintain the integrity of the dimensional prison whilst travelling across the greater 48, I think your idea is dangerous.

And I don't think Seattle would appreciate you bringing all that excess baggage up there. It is far too nice a place to be smote with the likes of our Federales... :-)
2.13.2007 11:39am
Could the residential areas be transferred to Indiana? We could then share the Colts with Baltimore, making Maryland much happier. What do we get out of it? We could now claim to be cosmopolitain East Coatsers.

Plus, if it became part of Indiana, everyone would be nicer.
2.13.2007 11:43am
Hans Bader (mail):
It's worth noting that the District of Columbia has fewer voters than all 50 states, and fewer people living in it than 49 of the 50 states (and in a few years, it will have fewer people than all 50 states).

So it's not clear why it should be treated like a state when it comes to representation in the Senate (meaning it would receive 2 senators).

Why should the District, which has less than 0.2 percent of the nation's population, receive 2 percent of the senate (that is, 2 senators out of 102?)?

That's 10 times what it would be entitled to based on population alone.

It is already inequitable that underpopulated states like Wyoming and Vermont receive just as many senators as populous states like California and New York. But that inequity, unfortunately, can't be changed, since the constitution mandates that the constitution can't be amended to dilute a state's equal representation in the Senate.

But the District is not a state, so, thankfully, we don't have to put up with that unfair result with respect to the District.

Indeed, we don't have to give D.C. any senators at all.

A stronger argument could be made that District residents should receive a representative in the House.

But even that is arguable. The District has 400,000 fewer people than Montana, which only has one representative in the House. The District's population is smaller than the size of the typical House district.

Why should the District also receive one representative, when its population is similar to cities like Las Vegas and El Paso, which don't have a representative all to themselves (they have to share their representative with surrounding suburbs)?
2.13.2007 11:47am
Houston Lawyer:
I remember speculation decades ago that Texas could split into 5 states and then have 10 Senators. That would be about as equitable as giving the DC residents a vote.
2.13.2007 11:54am
Alex R: The CRS report cites Tidewater, a case that approved Congress's power to give D.C. residents the ability to sue in federal court, for a proposition about what Congress can not do. Then it cites dicta in Michel, a case approving D.C. delegate's vote in the committee of the whole, as supporting the argument that a D.C. delegate's vote would be unconstitutional. It simply isn't good reasoning.

AppSocRes: I'm sorry, but your comment was disqualified because of your use of the term "dimocrat." Please try again. You might want to check the co-sponsor of one of the Bills, Tom Davis, R-Va.
2.13.2007 11:55am
AppSocRes--Don't blame the Democrats; this started out as Tom Davis's idea.
2.13.2007 12:01pm
Birdman2 (mail):
AppSocRes refers to D.C.'s House "Delegate," Eleanor Holmes Norton, as a "twit." This is of course quite insulting. On the other hand, here is her comment about the CRS analysis, as reported in the Washington Post: "An unprecedented bill always raises constitutional issues." Ms. Norton appears to be doing her best to provide ammunition to people like AppSocRes.
2.13.2007 12:11pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
A citizen of DC already has more than three times the voting power of a Texas citizen, in presidential elections. See here. That imbalance would be exacerbated by returning land from DC to Maryland, but that would still be the best way to go, IMHO.

The new residents of Maryland would get representation in Congress. And, citizens of the smaller DC would get greater power per-person in presidential elections, thus further compensating for their lack of representation in Congress.
2.13.2007 12:12pm
Seamus (mail):

AppSocRes refers to D.C.'s House "Delegate," Eleanor Holmes Norton, as a "twit."

He wouldn't have done that if he'd seen the clip in which she pwned Stephen Colbert.
2.13.2007 12:19pm
Elliot Reed:
Hans, what I don't quite get is how overrepresenting the District can seriously be viewed as worse than not representing the District at all. The injury to the people of Texas California of having to deal with a another overrepresented jurisdiction is nonzero, but very small, while the injury inflicted on the people of D.C. by disenfranchisement is very large.
2.13.2007 12:22pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
DC residents suffer nothing from their disenfranchisement. It only provides them with excuses to whine and feel like victims. And to make edgy license plates, of course.

There is no obligation to live in the District to retain your job unless you happen to work for parts of the District government. A move of less than 10 miles' distance--perhaps to 'Nuclear Free Takoma Park?--would rectify any injustice perceived in the lack of certain voting privileges.
2.13.2007 12:31pm
First. let the folks in DC py for their nice perfoming arts center, their museums, ...

Personally I blame Carrier. I think it was inspired for the founders to put DC in the center of a swamp in which no one in their right mind would wish to stay year round. Then somone invented air conditioning...
2.13.2007 12:50pm
How about lumping DC (sans the federal zone defined roughly by 3d street SE/NE, Southwest/Southeast Freeway, Rock Creek Parkway, and K Street) together with Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, American Samoa,, the Northern Marianas, and Guam to form a new state? We could call it the State of Miscellaneous Former Territories, and its capital would most likely be San Juan. SMFV would not be a small state - in fact, its population would approach 5 million, not much less than Maryland. That move
2.13.2007 1:03pm
How about lumping DC (sans the federal zone defined roughly by 3d street SE/NE, Southwest/Southeast Freeway, Rock Creek Parkway, and K Street) together with Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, American Samoa,, the Northern Marianas, and Guam to form a new state? We could call it the State of Miscellaneous Former Territories, and its capital would most likely be San Juan. SMFV would not be a small state - in fact, its population would approach 5 million, not much less than Maryland.
2.13.2007 1:03pm
John Burgess: Bullshit. Tell that to anyone who has ever phoned or written their Congressman, or to any organization that has ever encouraged anyone to phone their Congressman. Your voice may not change your representative's vote, but at least you have someone to direct your opinion to. In the aggregate, those phone calls and letters make a difference. To the individual there is a real feeling of civic participation. D.C. residents get neither.

Even more compelling, ask someone who has actually gotten a congressman to help them with a problem. D.C. residents simply don't have that option.
2.13.2007 1:04pm
Gaius Obvious (mail):
DJR: Even more compelling, ask someone who has actually gotten a congressman to help them with a problem. D.C. residents simply don't have that option.

What does Eleanor Holmes Norton do then? Sit around and eat doughnuts all day? Providing that service is precisely her job.
2.13.2007 1:34pm
Alex R:
Regarding overrepresentation: The population of DC would be 49th if ranked among the states, roughly between Wyoming and Vermont. If DC would be overrepresented by giving it a Representative and two Senators, then Wyoming and Vermont (and North Dakota, Alaska, ...) are also overrepresented.

Telling DC residents to "just move" -- ha, ha. Is the US federal government going to build them housing in Maryland somewhere?

The CRS report: I can't assess the quality of the reasoning in detail, and the Post report suggests that there are a number of legal scholars who would disagree. I would think that as neither Tidewater nor Michel would be directly on point, as DJR suggests, as neither involved cases where Congress tried to pass statutes or rules that fundamentally altered the effective structure of Congress. But that doesn't mean that no attention should be paid to the limits on Congressional power stated in those decisions.

I agree with those who think that adding DC's residents to Maryland would be the best solution, though I could understand why Maryland might not care for it. While it might require a constitutional amendment, why not leave DC separate from Maryland, but treat it as part of Maryland for Congressional representation?
2.13.2007 1:36pm
Houston Lawyer:
If the DC residents want a representative in congress so bad, they can have mine, Shiela Jackson Lee. She doesn't respond to calls or letters from white people, so she'd fit in perfectly as the DC rep.
2.13.2007 1:45pm
TomH (mail):
The District of Columbia is not a state and neither is my property, my single, quater acre lot, in Puerto Rico. I think I, myself, need a congressman. After all, My lot is as much a State as Washington DC.

And bythe way, people can "just move" they do it all the time. Making your own choices is the american way. I understand that the more left leaning commenters feel that the nanny government should decide and pay for everything because their "constiuents" are entirely incompetent and unable, through no fault of their own, of course. However, in a society founded on the idea people have freedoms to do as they like, generally as long as they do not infringe on the persons of others. Along with that is the obligation to get yourself out of whatever trouble you have gotten yourself into, and to suffer with your own weaknesses, as hard as that may be to say and feel. Byt he same token, instead of volunteering me and my hard earned income (ie taxes) to fix things up for opthers, get off the keyboard go to Washington, give your time and money to move people to a place with representation.

Whoever said DC should be an 'office park' is prbably pretty close to the truth. I imagine the persons who developed it envisioned a town full of government offices and at most, office workers. Not the general metropolis now found there.

Sorry, rant over.
2.13.2007 2:02pm
"And by the way, people can "just move" they do it all the time."

That just begs the question of whether being represented in Congress is the sort of fundamental right that should apply everywhere or some fact of nature like the weather. People could "just move" away from a state which had cancelled the Bill of Rights, too, but that's not typically thought to be a sufficient remedy.
2.13.2007 2:32pm
james (mail):
Plenty of US citizens live in non-State locations. US territories, protectorates, foreign nations. Why not apply the same situation for DC. The residents of DC can stay, but for voting(and TAX) purposes they become out of state residents of Maryland or Virginia.
2.13.2007 2:39pm
Beau (mail) (www):
The residents of DC can stay, but for voting(and TAX) purposes they become out of state residents of Maryland or Virginia.

They'd all pick Virginia.
2.13.2007 2:51pm
JohnO (mail):
Putting aside the moral and policy questions, I just don't see how anyone could ever think that Congress could just pass a law that gives DC a seat in the House. The 14th Amendment would seem to trump any attempt to rely on the District Clause, the 14th Amendment being enacted later in time, EVEN IF the District Clause otherwise would have allowed this (which is find highly doubtful as the proposal conflicts with Article I).

I've seen Viet Dinh's paper claiming that such legislation would be constitutional. All I can say is that any of the conservative intelligencia that spends his or her time fawning over judicial appoibntments that will never happen should read that paper before forming a judge-crush on Mr. Dinh.
2.13.2007 3:16pm
Do all of the people who want DC representation think that it is appropriate that Utah's proper level of representation is attached? Why should Utahn's be denied their proper quantity of representatives simply because DC isn't represented. I mean they are a state...
2.13.2007 3:47pm
As I understand it, the 14th Amendment argument has been tried before: Adams v. Clinton, 90 F. Supp. 2d 35 (D.D.C. 2000), aff'd, 531 U.S. 941 (2000). I just skimmed the case, so I could be wrong.

Also, JohnO, do you have a cite for that Dinh paper? I'd like to give it a look.
2.13.2007 3:54pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
In addition to Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC residents have The Washington Post to do their lobbying for them. The Post is happy to take up arms to support almost everything the typical DC resident could desire. It also has a hell of a lot more clout than most elected representatives.

I do not see DC residents' 'right' to vote as fundamental. All adults have--or have available to them--knowledge of the disability that comes with living in DC. It's not some sudden, overnight disenfranchisement: it's been the rule since DC was formed. If one doesn't like that, there are options. Many exercise those options when they grow to dislike other aspects of the District like crime, poor schools, unresponsive local government. It's the American way in a far more fundamental manner than whether they need a Constitutional amendment in order to vote.
2.13.2007 4:41pm
Viet Dinh's paper is available online at
2.13.2007 4:42pm
nrein1 (mail):
As it seems as if some people are unclear, let me clarify something, no one in DC is seeking senators, they just want one rep.

To me the ideal situation is if somehow DC voters could vote in Maryland/Virgina congressional and senatorial elections.
2.13.2007 4:58pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Rirdman2: You're right that it was wrong and stupid of me to describe Eleanor Holmes Norton as a twit. I too saw her on the Colbert Report. She is clearly a highly intelligent and cultured woman with a lot of dignity and humor. I apologize for my ill-natured maligning of the woman.

However, Ms. Holmes has wrong-headedly made herself the longstanding and relatively useless figurehead for a very bad and purely partisan attempt to subvert the Constitution. I can't think of a word to describe someone who has so poorly utilized her obvious talents.
2.13.2007 6:20pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
We all know that Democrats want DC to have a vote and a seat because it is a guaranteed Democratic seat. And, what they real want is to get people on board with the idea that they are entitled to Senate representation, which of course means 2 more Democrat seats.

D.C. has a special purpose as a federal district. If they think it should be different, then get the Constitution changed.
2.13.2007 6:22pm
Mark Field (mail):

We all know that Democrats want DC to have a vote and a seat because it is a guaranteed Democratic seat.

And we all know why Republicans want Utah to have an extra seat. That's why the two issues have been combined.

IMO, this sort of reasoning is silly. In the long run, nobody knows how voting patterns will shift. 60 years ago, DC votes would have been reliably Republican. Nobody knows which party will benefit in the long run in either Utah or DC. If it's the right thing to do (and it seems to be in both cases), then letting partisanship interfere would be discreditable, to say the least.

I'm not commenting on the Constitutional issue here, just the policy question.
2.13.2007 7:30pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Beau: "They'd all pick Virginia."

We don't want 'em.
2.13.2007 7:37pm
Mark Field: There's more to Brian G's point than you give it credit for by pointing out that the current proposal appears to be partisan horsetrading. If DC gets a voting representative, then it will be easier down the line to sell people on Senators -- if it's enough of a state for represenatives, why shouldn't it also be enough for Senators? And at that point, no horsetrading can be done -- Republicans can't increase Senators in Utah to account for the 2 new Democratic DC Senators.

As for whether DC will stay Democratic, what percentage of large, urban areas vote Republican? And if you mean merely that partisan alignment might shift (in the way that Democrat meant something different in the 1950s South), the basic political views persist -- predominately "conservative" Utahns have different interests than predominately "liberal" urban DCites.
2.13.2007 9:32pm
Gaius Obvious (mail):
In the long run, nobody knows how voting patterns will shift.

Politics in Washington runs on a two-year cycle. Very few politicians care about the "long run".
2.13.2007 9:39pm
Mark Field (mail):

There's more to Brian G's point than you give it credit for by pointing out that the current proposal appears to be partisan horsetrading. If DC gets a voting representative, then it will be easier down the line to sell people on Senators -- if it's enough of a state for represenatives, why shouldn't it also be enough for Senators?

The Senate issue is obviously problematic, but we can address each issue on its own merits. As Rick said in Casablanca:

"Heinze: Can you imagine us in London?
Rick: When you get there, ask me."
2.13.2007 10:48pm
The River Temoc (mail):
As I see it, there are two possible justifications for keeping D.C. residents disenfranchised.

First, by virtue of the fact that so many of them have access to power centers in the federal government, they enjoy a kind of "virtual" representation that those outside D.C. lack. Your average resident of Gary, Indiana doesn't work for a senator, the Secretary of the Navy, the Brookings Institution, and so on.

Second, a lot of these people keep voting absentee in their home states. Even "Hill rats," (i.e., people who have worked on the Hill for a long, long time) still seem to identify somewhere other than D.C. as their home. You would be amazed at the number of out-of-state plates you see in the Hill employee parking lots.

I ultimately find these justifications unconvincing, however. Why? They don't apply to that other D.C., the one that doesn't get invited to Georgetown dinner parties, but that does the cooking and cleaning for those who do. The underclass in D.C. has its problems, but they are entitled to representation, and they're not getting it.
2.13.2007 11:55pm
River: How about the justification that representation in Congress extends only to "states," and DC isn't a state? Perhaps that's wrong, but it's at least a "possible justification."
2.14.2007 12:11am
Eli Rabett (www):
Dear TomH, please do.
2.14.2007 12:55am
Eli Rabett (www):
Income taxes in DC are realtively high, but with homestead exemptions real estate taxes are not bad. Since everyone here shops in every jurisdiction, the only real big difference on sales taxes is when you buy a car. The difference btw what one pays in DC, VA and MD hangs on the particulars of your case.
2.14.2007 12:58am
Vince Treacy:

Several points.
The CRS lawyers write, edit and publish the Constitution Annotated available on line at Thomas at, so they know constitution. A Report is reviewed and issued as the opinion of the Service, not of an individual.
To all the people who continue to suggest retrocession, please note that it was never formally ruled on by the Supreme Court, but the return of Alexandria to Virginia could not take place until the Virginia legislature approved it in 1846. Surveys show that only 20 per cent in Maryland would approve, so please note that it is not a viable option.
Hans Bader, please note that the inequity in the Senate can be remedied by Constitutional amendment. No state can be deprived of equal suffrage, but the Senate as a whole could have its duties removed, with only ceremonial tasks left, like the House of Lords. So do not say nothing can be done about it.
Also, Hans Bader, please give a principled reason why DC should have no representation at all.
To the folks who say people chose to live in DC and have no one to blame but themselves, please note that when the colonists in 1776 objected to taxation without representation in the British Parliament, they also had chosen to live in the colonies. They chose to leave England where they had representation. Your view is that if they wanted representation, they should have just moved somewhere else or back to England. The Founders of our Nation had principles that differed from yours.
By the way, just when was the Declaration of Independence repealed? It said that QUOTE Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed. UNQUOTE
Please explain exactly how the principle of the consent of the governed applies to the District of Columbia.
While you are at it, please explain why we fought a war and made Iraq write a constitution that grants the right to vote in both houses of its parliament to all the citizens of its capitol, while we deny the right in our own capitol.
JohnO is correct, the 14th Amendment would trump any attempt to rely on the District Clause, because Reps can only be apportioned to states.
The proposed statute also would confound the operation of the 12th amendment, if that dread day ever comes, because it is not clear that DC could vote if an election is thrown into the House.
Everyone should read the District clause itself again, because all it says is that Congress has power to exercise exclusive legislation in all case whatsoever over such district. It sure has the power to legislate courts to resolve disputes between citizens of DC and the states, and since the clause is national in scope, it could create those courts all over the country. The Supreme Court let it assign those cases to the Article III courts, maybe to streamline the administration of justice.
But how do you get from thatjurisdictional housekeeping to creating reps for districts, territories, military base, enclaves and Guantanamo Bay?
And the appeals to the authorities! Ken Starr? Does the word impeachment ring a bell? Judge Wald favors the bill, but testified in 1978 that a constitutional amendment was necessary.
Dinh served in the Bush-Ashcroft Justice Department! What about the constitutional opinions that came out of that department in those years? The Washington Post reported on Nov. 20, 2004, page B-1, that the House Committee on Government Reform paid Dinh $25,000 for his opinion. You can look it up on or google or lexis it. Any lawyer out there will defend a bill for that kind of money.
None of them showed up at the Constitution Subcommittee of House Judiciary last year to answer any questions.
Finally, if you want a law to provide a single voting Rep in the House, and no Senators, just put it into a Constitutional Amendment, with a law saying Utah gets its extra Rep and Electoral Vote on the day the Amendment is ratified. If there is bipartisan support, it will sail through.
I do not necessarily favor this, but I absolutely would want it sent to DC voters for a referendum. Proposed Amendment One Representative shall be apportioned to the district constituting the seat of government of the United States, upon approval of this Article by a referendum [convention] of its people.
This solves all the constitutional issues, and the Rep would be permanent, not subject to removal by a future repeal of Davis-Norton.
That is enough for now.
2.15.2007 5:15pm