Senate passes unconstitutional bill granting House voting rights to D.C.

posted at 8:23 pm on February 26, 2009 by Allahpundit

Law professor Ann Althouse says it all. The vote went 61-37, with two Democrats voting no and six Republicans voting yes: Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar, George Voinovich, and … Collins, Snowe, and Specter.

Ed wrote about the constitutional objections a few days ago. I have a hunch the Supremes are going to drive a stake through its heart when it finally gets there — Kennedy is more reliable on questions of government structure than on questions of rights — but in the meantime I’m more interested in people’s ideas for addressing the District’s legitimate grievance. Taxation without representation is un-American to the core; they deserve either the vote or a tax amnesty, or maybe something else. One creative option would have Congress recognize them as the 51st state, although that would require two seats in the Senate, too. Another creative idea from NRO:

An option to grant Washingtonians a voice in the House, without requiring the high demands of a constitutional amendment, already exists: retrocession. Just as Virginia absorbed a chunk of the District in 1846, Maryland could take in large sections of it now. Let Maryland’s political establishment, including Democratic governor Martin O’Malley and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, explain why this is not acceptable.

Let’s do what D.C. would do: Vote on it!



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Just another 2 blacks for the Black Caucus.

rlwo2008 on February 27, 2009 at 6:34 AM

Retrocession.

They want change to shed independent status upon which they exist yet they have no status other than their foundation. D.C. must revert to its former existence because D.C. is NOT a State, was never designed to be able to become a state, and was specifically designed to NEVER BECOME A STATE but remain a neutral entity, never to compete with the states. Our D.C. capital is an extension from Maryland, and must naturally return rights of property to Maryland if it no longer wishes to conform to the rules upon which it was deeded to the nation.

maverick muse on February 27, 2009 at 7:08 AM

D.C., Love it or leave it?

For those elsewhere, how many neighborhoods in your city were build around an existing productive establishment that the later population deems a nuisance (noise and traffic from an airport, highway, shopping center or industrial facility). Said neighborhood comes to unite in complaint to make the pre-existing establishment cease and desist, to either relocate the pre-existing establishment or reform it into something soft and cuddly.

maverick muse on February 27, 2009 at 7:18 AM

Tax amnesty would create the biggest migration into DC we’ve ever seen.

frode on February 27, 2009 at 3:38 AM

Subsidy amnesty would create the biggest migration out of DC we’ve ever seen.

dtestard on February 27, 2009 at 7:47 AM

Shouldn’t the Senator’s know what the constitution says? They need to listen to Mark Levin.

ctmom on February 27, 2009 at 7:51 AM

The DC Government doesn’t worry about taxing others without representation (i.e. their desire to institute a commuter tax for those that come in from Virgina and Maryland). Their complaints, in that light, are hypocritical.

zoyclem on February 27, 2009 at 8:08 AM

Subsidy amnesty would create the biggest migration out of DC we’ve ever seen.

dtestard on February 27, 2009 at 7:47 AM

Oh make no mistake about it, they know what the Constitution says. They just happen to be so arrogant that they think they can abuse it any time or way they want.

doriangrey on February 27, 2009 at 8:23 AM

Wasnt it nice how Congress snuck this in on the important chimp legislation? Do they think the American public is stupid? (dont answer that)

I agree with Beck..they need to do this the right way and go for a Constitutional amendment. I think the reason they dont want to try that route is because the last time they did, the amendment was defeated.

Congress must be trying to start a revolution because they keep doing things the people do not want. So what happens now? Does someone need to sue?

I wouldnt be surprised if Laura Ingraham would doit…she is totally against this idea since it is only a way for Dems to get more dems.

becki51758 on February 27, 2009 at 8:32 AM

Unconstitutional? Is that supposed to mean something?

Akzed on February 27, 2009 at 8:52 AM

Taxation without representation is un-American to the core

Nonsense – I have despised each and every Congressman I’ve ever had “represent” me – Dick Gebhardt, Jim Moran and now Ciro Rodriguez are just a few of the scum I can name.

I don’t consider that representation.

Just because a majority of drunken/drugged or Marxist idiots where I reside choose to vote for these corrupt, incompetent dopes, doesn’t mean that they are “representing” me in the least.

DC residents are represented by a City Council who is by definition, incompetent and corrupt Democrats. The city is a circus and it would be Gary, Indiana if the federal government were not there to bail it out.

No Congressmen for DC. Let them go hat in hand and try to get Maryland to take them back. And Maryland is not that stupid, they’ve already got one basketcase city in Baltimore, they don’t need another one in DC.

NoDonkey on February 27, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Cede all the residential areas of DC back to Maryland, see if that gives Maryland an additional House seat.

I R A Darth Aggie on February 27, 2009 at 9:48 AM

NoDonkey on February 27, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Heh, didn’t realize you lived near the northern capitol of Mexico. I feel for you bro. It is hard to believe that someone as illiterate as Ciro Rodriguez is a US Representative. Plus the guy has more allegiance to Mexico than the USA IMO.

brtex on February 27, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Taxation without representation is un-American to the core; they deserve either the vote or a tax amnesty, or maybe something else.

Retrocession may be OK, but explain to me why TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION is bad, but

REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION is cool.

No vote without paying Fed tax.

JiangxiDad on February 27, 2009 at 10:05 AM

The DC Government doesn’t worry about taxing others without representation (i.e. their desire to institute a commuter tax for those that come in from Virgina and Maryland). Their complaints, in that light, are hypocritical.

zoyclem on February 27, 2009 at 8:08 AM

I paid the NYC commuter tax for years, and I pay NYC property taxes, but I have NO VOTE on anything in NYC.

Somebody ought to find out who is actually PAYING federal taxes in DC, and then ask them if they want the extra representation. I have a sneaking suspicion they’d say no.

JiangxiDad on February 27, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Do they think the American public is stupid? (dont answer that)

Oh I will – They do, because they are.

I really don’t think that DC was ever supposed to become such a seething hotbed of parasitic inhabitants. IOW this should never have become an issue, because there really shouldn’t be a ‘body politic’, per se, to complain about not having a vote….ie. they should live elsewhere.

Retrocession (seriously?) seems like a palatable option, but who would want all those DC losers?

LimeyGeek on February 27, 2009 at 10:11 AM

One more Democratic vote in the house is no big deal, but to try and get this to the conclusion that the Dems want, which is to give them 2 more Senate seats is preposterous.
DC was never designed to be independent. It is a city. A City made up of, judging from the news stories, muggers, robbers, murderers, drug dealers and high priced hookers. And then there are the people who actually live there.
I guess you have to make the actual government complex a sort of Vatican City and cede all of the rest of the city back to the states.
One question. Who would want these dead beat, crime ridden folks added to their roles so that their state would then be responsible for paying for all of the handouts and welfare the majority of full time residents of DC have become accustomed to? It would break the budget of most states.

Just A Grunt on February 27, 2009 at 10:20 AM

Taxation without representation? Don’t like it? Move to Maryland.

mojo on February 27, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Hmm. Lots of people stating that this is unconstitutional with a great deal of confidence. Not sure where that confidence is coming from, but anyway.

At the time of the ratification, Washington DC wasn’t the capital. DC is not a territory, so it doesn’t fall under that category, but it’s not technically a state either.

There are a lot of ways to read the Constitution here; one possible way is that the Constitution is supposed to provide representation in Congress to all US citizens. That kind of approach would suggest that DC should *at least* get a House member, and possibly two Senators. You could make the argument that DC deserves a House member but NOT two Senators, because the House was intended to directly represent the people, but the Senate was designed to represent the States.

Maybe it’s not an argument I agree with, but it’s a coherent argument.

On the other hand, because it surely means another Democrat in Congress, this seat is wrong and should not exist. Great, that makes things easy, huh.

Proud Rino on February 26, 2009 at 10:46 PM

Article I, Section 8 was forward-looking and provided for the district.

cs89 on February 27, 2009 at 10:46 AM

I’m not a history buff, and I know there are some here, but my recollection is that they intentionally didn’t want any one state to have the power and prestige that the Capital would bring.

FloatingRock on February 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM

Sort of. D.C. was envisioned as a Federal City, which should really only consist of administrative buildings, with some housing and support.

dominigan on February 27, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Hmm. Lots of people stating that this is unconstitutional with a great deal of confidence. Not sure where that confidence is coming from, but anyway.

Have you actually read the Constitution?Really read it? Not just skimmed it in some dopey class.

The establishment of DC, and the makeup of Congress are clearly defined. DC is not allocated any place in Congress.

You don’t even need to delve deep into Constitutional analysis…simple english comprehension will do the job.

Defining DC as a distinct entity removes it from Congressional representation. ‘Retrocession’, if Constitutional, would correct the matter….but again, who in their right mind would want a shithole like DC?

LimeyGeek on February 27, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Taxation without representation is un-American to the core

True, but that hasn’t stopped the progressives.

For example, I live in a city outside of Columbus OH, but work inside the city limits. I pay taxes to Columbus (and to the suburb in which I live)… but I can’t vote on any Columbus issues.

Think about that…

dominigan on February 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM

If DC residents didn’t pay income tax the population would quadruple in a month.

angryed on February 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM

If DC residents didn’t pay income tax the population would quadruple in a month.

angryed on February 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Great. Collect the effluent in one place and then flush the turds.

LimeyGeek on February 27, 2009 at 11:03 AM

brtex on February 27, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Why is it every time I take a look at my Congressman’s web site I want to puke?

No matter where I live, this happens.

Unfortunately, in my field, I can’t live out in the sticks where actual Americans are Congressmen.

NoDonkey on February 27, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Hmm. Lots of people stating that this is unconstitutional with a great deal of confidence. Not sure where that confidence is coming from, but anyway.

Proud Rino on February 26, 2009 at 10:46 PM

I have studied the Constitution. It’s not really that difficult of a read and I highly encourage you to read it if you still desire to post intelligently on Constitutional issues.

The District is not a state, and only states get reps…

Article I Section 2 Paragraph 1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

If D.C. wants representation in the House, it must become a state or be absorbed into one (with the appropriate state legislative approval, as per Article IV Section 3 Paragraph 1).

Article IV Section 3 Paragraph 1,2: New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.

This is important because of the final sentence. While Congress does have the power to deal with territories, it cannot do so if it imposes on the other states.

Since the number of House Representatives is fixed at 435 (history and law), any representation granted to D.C. without making it a state (or passing a Constitutional Ammendment) will dilute the representation of the other states.

And while the residents of D.C. do not have representation within Congress, they do have voting power for President and Vice President…

Ammendment XXIII: Section 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This lends additional support behind the view that D.C. is a territory, to be treated separately than a state since the people of a state have Presidential voting rights granted by Ammendment XII and D.C. required a separate Ammendment XXIII to obtain the same rights.

Hope that helps you understand the Consitutional arguments.

dominigan on February 27, 2009 at 11:33 AM

DC is not a state, they dont need votes in the house and senate.

Secondly, their gun ban laws were found to be illegal and should be removed regardless of the DC-vote bill.

tx2654 on February 27, 2009 at 11:35 AM

If DC residents didn’t pay income tax the population would quadruple in a month.

angryed on February 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Great. Collect the effluent in one place and then flush the turds.

LimeyGeek on February 27, 2009 at 11:03 AM

They already don’t, at least the majority. It’s like New Orleans, or the Bronx.

They want both. No taxes, and representation.

NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION. This is the precise reason why we are going down.

JiangxiDad on February 27, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Pardonme but “the people” haven’t stood up to any of the moves this administration is making to TOTALLY transform our country so why should we worry about a little thing like passing something that is unconstitutional? It can be written no clearer that DC is not allowed votes in congress. Should this be changed it must be done through means other than just a vote in congress. If this is allowed just throw out the constitution, give up the secret ballot, socialize medicine, nationalize the banks, redistribute wealth and keep your mouth shut! Otherwise find someone to lead and don’t allow changes like these without a fight.

Pardonme on February 27, 2009 at 12:11 PM

NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION. This is the precise reason why we are going down.

JiangxiDad on February 27, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Of course, if folks like me get their way, and the Fair Tax (or facsimile) is enacted, the whole “no representation without taxation” argument gets shot to hell.

If only taxpayers could vote, and only the most productive and wealthy people paid taxes, that would arguably be a wonderful thing….but I happen to think that such taxation is immoral….

LimeyGeek on February 27, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Why not make DC an independent country? Those that want to vote for a Congressional Representive can move to America and those who want freedom from Congressional rule can stay in DC.

KW64 on February 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Laura Ingraham had a good point-probably already discussed above.
DC is a governmental district, as are all military bases, some ports, Puerto Rico, Guam, VIrgin Islands, Amercan Samoa, etc. By precedent, if this passes won’t all those districts also get senators? That’s a lot of senators.

Am I totally off-base here?

NTWR on February 27, 2009 at 1:05 PM

It may be “un-American,” but it is NOT unconstitutional. I don’t know why people use the Boston Tea Party as a justification for DC representation when the Constitution explicitly proscribes that. It’s the same as people using a poem on the Statue of Liberty as a justification for lax immigration laws. No one had a problem with this set up for over 200 years – the “fairness” argument is simply a pretext to get more Democrat votes in the House, and eventually two in the Senate. That is what all of this is about, not any fundamental notions of americanism or fairness. By buying into this argument, you let the left set the parameters of the debate.

KC on February 27, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Btw… here is my contact email with Voinovich…

I am outraged to read that you voted for S. 160 (District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009).

Article I Section 2 Paragraph 1 of the Constitution asserts that only states will have representation within the House of Representatives.

If D.C. wishes representation, then they must obtain statehood, as per Article IV Section 3 Paragraphs 1&2 (or pass a Constitutional Amendment). Paragraph 2 is especially important…

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.

Since granting representation to D.C., regardless of any temporary apportionment arguments (which will be null and void after the next census), will dilute the representation of true states… in other words, Congress is not authorized to pass this law, and any such action is un-Constitutional.

History further bears out this argument in that while residents of states were granted in 1804 the right to directly vote in Presidential elections (Amendment XII), D.C. required a separate one (Amendment XXIII) to grant the same to their residents in 1961.

I can only conclude that you have voted to pass a blatantly un-Constitutional law.

While I do believe in the American concept of “no taxation without representation”, there are legal ways to reconcile the situation either through statehood or Constitutional Amendment.

I am also curious as to why, if you are so concerned about “no taxation without representation”, you choose to apply that to a territory and address it within your home state? For example, I live in Westerville but pay taxes to both Columbus and Westerville… and yet, I cannot vote on Columbus city issues. Is this not also taxation without representation?

As a public servant, you need to be reminded of your oath of office…

Article VI, Paragraph 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.

The question I have for you is “What do you believe should be the correct response for a member of Congress who has knowingly violated the same oath of office that allows him to keep his seat?”

I await your answer, before deciding to take up this issue with my fellow residents.

dominigan on February 27, 2009 at 1:37 PM

dominigan:

Pardonme but you are suffering under the delusion, as most of us are, that our representatives in congress actually might listen to a logical, legal and well thought out presentation. They are above the law and especially the supreme law: the constitution. They have supplanted the constitution with their own need for power, political correctness and arrogant self absorption. I do admire your attempt to get through but I sincerely doubt even if this was read by Voinovich that he would acknowledge it.

Pardonme on February 27, 2009 at 2:09 PM

six Republicans voting yes

Republicans? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Physics Geek on February 27, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Every smart poster on this site can name 5 items where the Pres or congress is involved in un constitutional activity.

The other item that frosts me is contract law. The executive branch now thinks it can require banks to ignore loan contracts and the branch can push banks to reduce principal and interest rates without regard to keeping the loan contract.

seven on February 27, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Letting them vote in MD seems the most reasonable solution and it would probably be within the constitutional power of Congress — provided they got MD’s consent. I say probably because the retrocession in 1846 has never been determined to be strictly constitutional, but I can’t see any objection to it.

Incidentally, did anyone notice that the deal to give an extra vote to Utah doesn’t actually preserve the partisan balance in the House? It gives a slight mathematical advantage to Republicans since they were in the minority (ie they had less that 50% of the old balance but they got 50% of the new votes). Also, it makes a 2/3 majority slightly more difficult to produce since 2/3 of 435 is 290 but 2/3 of 437 is 292 (rounding up). But, of course, all that will go away in the next census.

JackOfClubs on February 27, 2009 at 5:00 PM

The last time this was tried was in 2007. Back then, Orrin Hatch co-sponsored the bill:

Republican lawmakers yesterday blocked the Senate from taking up the D.C. vote bill, a potentially fatal setback for the District’s most promising effort in years to get a full member of Congress. …

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a co-sponsor of the bill, called on its critics to at least allow a full floor debate on its constitutionality. He and other supporters say the Constitution gives Congress sufficient power over the District to create a House seat for it.

“When has the U.S. Senate been afraid to debate a constitutional issue as important as this one?” he said in a brief floor speech.

They didn’t even need to bribe him with an extra seat for Utah back then. Why the sweetener?

Paul_in_NJ on February 28, 2009 at 12:25 PM

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