Her Overwhelming Priority is Voting Rights, Except When It's Not

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) had to choose between getting her constituents voting representation in Congress and denying her constituents' Second Amendment rights. Guess which way the cookie crumbled. Norton is withdrawing the DC Voting Rights Act because of an amendment attached in the Senate requiring District gun control laws to be no stricter than those of the Federal government. The red-in-the-face fuming of the act's supporters is priceless.

From a press release on Norton's website:   

Despite her overriding priority for voting rights, Norton believed she had an obligation to expose the unusual public safety dangers posed by the Ensign [gun rights] amendment to eliminate its passage.  She held two hearings and alerted high level administration officials and her colleagues to the homeland security dangers of the amendment and asked for their assistance.

DC Council Vice Chairman Vincent Gray called the amendment "onerous and dangerous."

Top honors, though, go to DC Councilman Phil Mendelson (quoted in the same Washington Examiner article as Gray), who obviously lacks the self-awareness that restrains the speech of mere mortals and other gun control advocates:

"It is supremely frustrating that D.C. residents are forced to wait on voting representation because of the NRA's boldfaced attempt to impose its view of the Second Amendment on District residents."

Steve Chapman covered the DC statehood movement for Reason back in February, and Reason's Brian Doherty (author of Gun Control on Trial) wrote about post-Heller gun control in May.

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  • ||

    I am curious.

    If the voting rights amendment passed with the gun rights amendment, and the SCOTUS found the voting rights to be unconstitutional, would the gun rights still stand?

  • ||

    If the voting rights amendment passed with the gun rights amendment, and the SCOTUS found the voting rights to be unconstitutional, would the gun rights still stand?

    I believe so, yes. SCOTUS would strike down the unconstitutional provisions, and would have no reason to strike down anything else.

  • ||

    I believe so, yes. SCOTUS would strike down the unconstitutional provisions, and would have no reason to strike down anything else.



    Most likely. It depends on whether there was a severability clause in the amendment. Most likely there is one.

  • NotThatDavid||

    Regardless of how stupid DC's gun rules are, voting rights should not be contingent on anyfuckingthing, much less a provision giving the federal government more control over DC's local laws than it has over any other city in the United States.

  • ||

    I am not in the least bit surprised.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    oh good grief. Dissolve D.C.'s joke of a government and just appoint me Viceroy of the District.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    NotThatDavid - you do realize that Congress is Constitutionally empowered to govern the District, right? The federal government has ultimate control over the District, according to the highest law in the land.

    Ergo, it is permitted to make any damn thing contingent upon any other damn thing it pleases. And I, for one, am glad for it.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Actually, I like her ballsiness. "I want representation but not if I have to compromise my views!". Reminds me of our founding fathers.

  • KT||

    So basically we don't get to vote in Congress because OMG GUNS SCARY!

  • ||

    Regardless of how stupid DC's gun rules are, voting rights should not be contingent on anyfuckingthing, much less a provision giving the federal government more control over DC's local laws than it has over any other city in the United States.



    "Regardless of how stupid?" Even if they violate the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings? Would you feel the same way about actual segregation?

  • ||

    Doesn't anybody have any regard for the Constitution? If DC wants representation in Congress (DC residents already have the right to vote), they should amend the Constitution to that effect. If they want to deny 2A rights to DC citizens, they should amend the Constitution to that effect.

    I'm not pleased about 2A supporters trying to buy back existing constitutional rights by inventing new ones. Unless...the whole thing was an exercise in political gamesmanship intended to make liberal heads explode. If so: full speed ahead.

  • ||

    I believe so, yes. SCOTUS would strike down the unconstitutional provisions, and would have no reason to strike down anything else.

    If that is the case, then I think this was the politically smart move.

    Despite her public rhetoric, she has to believe that there is a very high probability of DC Voting rights law being struck down by the SCOTUS as unconstitutional. At which point she would have essentially given away local DC gun control for nothing in return.

  • ||

    I'm not pleased about 2A supporters trying to buy back existing constitutional rights by inventing new ones. Unless...the whole thing was an exercise in political gamesmanship intended to make liberal heads explode. If so: full speed ahead.



    The Republicans don't have enough to stop this bill from passing. But they can force the amendment, thanks to all those moderate Democrats who require a friendly or non-hostile NRA to get elected. You do what you can.

  • NotThatDavid||

    [quote]"Regardless of how stupid?" Even if they violate the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings? Would you feel the same way about actual segregation?[/quote]

    And if the condition was "you can't go beyond recognized constitutional standards," it'd be different, since that ought to go without saying. "You can't go beyond the federal government's standard, no matter what we let every other local government in the country do" is terrible precedent on principle.

  • NotThatDavid||

    HTML. Not bbcode. Right. Damn you, Internet!

  • ¢||

    I can't imagine segregation more actual than D.C.'s.

  • ||

    At which point she would have essentially given away local DC gun control for nothing in return.

    Of course, if she believes that SCOTUS is likely to overturn DC voting rights regardless, doesn't that mean that she is either (a)advocating for something she knows is unconstitutional or (b) wasting everybody's time and money in a pointless campaign?

    Or (c) both?

  • ||

    "You can't go beyond the federal government's standard, no matter what we let every other local government in the country do" is terrible precedent on principle.

    Why? The federal government has gotten involved already in micromanaging other cities and states (unconstitutionally, unlike its power to govern DC), so that precedent is already set.

  • ||

    Of course, if she believes that SCOTUS is likely to overturn DC voting rights regardless, doesn't that mean that she is either (a)advocating for something she knows is unconstitutional or (b) wasting everybody's time and money in a pointless campaign?


    The only way to know for sure if something is constitutional is to get it passed and wait for review from SCOTUS.

    You and I and everyone else can bloviate all we want, but the SCOTUS can surprise you any time something goes before them. If you would have asked me upfront I would have thought the takings in Kelo as well as the regulation in Wickard v. Filburn were unconstitutional -- but look what happened there.

    So I think it's quite reasonable to think that Ms Norton believes that it's possible the Supremes would uphold the voting rights -- even if it seems unlikely.

  • Elemenope||

    This is normal politics all around, which is to say disgusting in the extreme. What happened to the notion of one issue, one vote, an atavism left in the dark days of the 18th century? Gun rights legislation has no business being attached to DC voter rights.

    What would it take to get a germaneness rule passed for amendment procedure in the Senate (besides an act of God)?

  • ||

    The only way to know for sure if something is constitutional is to get it passed and wait for review from SCOTUS.

    No, the only way to know if something is constitutional is to RTFA -- the Constitution. That document does not mean whatever 5 out of 9 SCOTUS justices say it does.

  • LarryA||

    Dang. Just when President Obama was on his way to signing more pro-gun legislation than any Republican.

  • ||

    Let's use some logic: Citizens of DC are also Citizens of the United States of America and subject to the rule of Constitutional Law. Amendment II states, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free state; the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." A semi-colon indicates an independent, but related thought. What part of shall not be infringed does the Delegate not understand?

    Give ALL citizens of the United States of America thier Constitutional rights that are natural rights of all persons! To own firearms and use them for collection of food and defense of self AND vote for representatives of thier Constituional Republic are natural rights.

    Yet another example of politicians who want to RULE us as they are so wise as to be able to determine what is best for me.

  • ||

    Norton seems to be awfully concerned about minorities being given access to firearms. She reminds me of the old Dave Chappelle character that was a blind, black, Klan member. He didn't realize he was actually black. Norton doesn't realize that blacks can be responsible citizens with the same rights and duties as everyone else. Gotta keep them victims if you want them to vote the right way.

  • ||

    KT | June 10, 2009, 6:00pm | #
    So basically we don't get to vote in Congress because OMG GUNS SCARY!


    No, you don't get to vote in Congress (or even elect people who can) because this country's system is based on an agreement between the States, and you don't live in one.

    You are welcome to build a manmade island in the pacific and decide how voting rights should be apportioned there.

  • Elemenope||

    No, the only way to know if something is constitutional is to RTFA -- the Constitution. That document does not mean whatever 5 out of 9 SCOTUS justices say it does.

    Well, no, it means exactly what 5 out of 9 SCOTUS justices say it does. That reality may not be pleasant, but it is reality.

  • ||

    Reading this stupidity almost made my brain short circuit. So basically, they are willing to surrender the chance at more rights because they have this notion (unsupported by any numerical data) that guns cause crime.

    If I lived in DC, I would be pissed.

  • Warmongering Lunatic||

    The capital of a country needs to be kept politically weakened by artificial means to help counteract the influence given by being the seat of coercive power.

    The trouble is that, because of modern transportation and communication technologies, the actual seat of power sprawls broadly across Virginia and Maryland. (The retrocession of Arlington didn't help.)

    So, what we really need is an amendment to the Constitution that first repeals the 23rd, and then increases DC to about thirty miles in radius.

  • ||

    No, the only way to know if something is constitutional is to RTFA -- the Constitution. That document does not mean whatever 5 out of 9 SCOTUS justices say it does.

    Well, no, it means exactly what 5 out of 9 SCOTUS justices say it does. That reality may not be pleasant, but it is reality.


    Perhaps you can link to the clause in the Constitution that gives SCOTUS the right to rewrite or interpret the Constitution however they want, without any recourse?

    So if, by a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS says "LMNOP can be executed for saying things that offend powerful government officials, because the first amendment clearly limits free speech to just stuff that the government deigns to allow", THAT would be reality? Really?

  • Elemenope||

    So if, by a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS says "LMNOP can be executed for saying things that offend powerful government officials, because the first amendment clearly limits free speech to just stuff that the government deigns to allow", THAT would be reality? Really??

    Let's not play stupid for a second. SCOTUS, like all branches of a political hierarchy, must operate within the bounds of what they can convince others to follow, e.g. quite simply what they can get away with. Thus, the reality is where 'what they say it is' and 'what people are willing to accept' intersect.

    Since people in our society are quite deferent in reality to what SCOTUS says what the law is (i.e. they don't rise as one and slay them, and tend to follow their rulings), they have pretty wide latitude to say pretty much whatever they want. I imagine if SCOTUS started handing down rulings ordering people being executed on wild-assed shit, that might (might!) change.

    But I figured you knew that we were talking here about the intersubjective reality that we all are familiar with the law being, rather than the highly rarified "what if SCOTUS were to suddenly go batshit bloodthirsty insane" hypothetical.

    The Constitution outlines a design for government, in language, that like all natural language requires human parsers. That power to parse and interpret has been vested (rightly or not) in courts. That *is* reality.

  • ||

    So I think it's quite reasonable to think that Ms Norton believes that it's possible the Supremes would uphold the voting rights -- even if it seems unlikely.

    I think she's in a box here. Either

    (a) she thinks SCOTUS will uphold her voting rights bill, in which case she just threw it overboard because she believes gun control is more important; or

    (b)she doesn't think SCOTUS will uphold her voting rights bill, in which case she is pushing something that she believes is unconsitutional or at the very least a giant waste of time.

    Basically, you can move the slider back and forth between the degree to which she believes voting rights is an unconstitutional waste of time and the degree to which she thinks it is less important than gun control.

  • robc||

    I support DC statehood, I call it Maryland.

  • robc||

    If you would have asked me upfront I would have thought the takings in Kelo as well as the regulation in Wickard v. Filburn were unconstitutional -- but look what happened there.


    The Scotus rulings dont mean you were wrong.

  • Mojotron||

    no mention that the Ensign amendment was a cynical poison pill? What about the concept of self-determination for DC residents? I disagree with the gun ban, but let's not pretend that this was being presented as a good-faith effort.

  • ||

    Why does Norton think that the majority of citizens in DC should not have the same rights to own and carry a firearm that other US citizens have?

    Not all black people are anti gun, anti self defense!

    Personal protection is a right that every citizen has. A firearm just puts the weaker, smaller or older person on the same playing field with the stronger, bigger and younger criminal.

    Wake up Eleanor!

  • robc||

    Well, no, it means exactly what 5 out of 9 SCOTUS justices say it does. That reality may not be pleasant, but it is reality.


    Nope, it means what it means. That is an absolute that is not affected by man (other than the original writers). The SCOTUS determines how it is to be applied, until they change their mind, but they cant change the actual meaning of the document.

  • robc||

    Changing the meaning of the constitution requires the senate, house and 2/3s (or is it 3/4s?) of the states. Or a constitutional convention.

  • ||

    "NRA's boldfaced attempt to impose its view of the Second Amendment on District residents"

    This seems a little stupid to me. So this character believes that the absence of gun restrictions imposes rule on someone? I have not read the legislatio but I would not think that it requires anyone to go out and purchase a handgun who does not wish to have one. The only ones who are imposed upon are the criminal element in DC who would possibly be facing an armed citizen rather than a defenseless one.

    I think, in short, the whole problem in DC might be that the legislative body and the criminals could be one in the same. The abolition of gun restrictions protect the innocent and make the criminals leary.

  • they call this government||

    freedom is onerous and dangerous. you are free to do whatever you want as long as you have my approval

  • ||

    "Regardless of how stupid DC's gun rules are, voting rights should not be contingent on anyfuckingthing, much less a provision giving the federal government more control over DC's local laws than it has over any other city in the United States."

    I disagree with you on the voting rights being contingent on anyfuckingthing. IMO anyone on the goverment teet making their living off me making mine should not be allowed to vote. If your not capable of managing your own life and providing for yourself odds are your opinion is of little value and not much thought.

    Why should someone that does nothing but collect entitlements get a vote equal to mine? I think the tipping point has come this past election where the number of people receiving govenrment entitlements has exceeded those of us getting jack shit but being forced to pay for it all.

    So why should someone be able ot vote for a Politician who promises them more free shit at my expense? This is called vote farming. If you noticed after Katrina all those on the overpasses are the farmed votes from decades of the process happening. The only time they round them up in buses is every 2 years to go vote then right back to the projects till the next election. Yet when it came to evacuating these same people before the storm they could not be found. Oddly enough they know where everyone is on election day.

    Once those paying are outnumbered by those on the take it is game over. Looks to me like the end of the game is near.

    I pay I say.. You don't pay then you shut up and sit down and get what you get. Don't like that then get a fucking job! It is just that simple.

  • ||

    "Actually, I like her ballsiness. "I want representation but not if I have to compromise my views!". Reminds me of our founding fathers."

    Except for the part where the founding fathers considered private firearm rights to be non-negotiable, right? "The object is that every man be armed", "No citizen shall ever be disbarred the use of arms.", etc, etc.

    Check out the "Founders' Second Amemendment" by Halbrook. It proves what any intellectually honest person already knew. Gun Control of any kind violates the constitution.

  • Michael Ejercito||


    If the voting rights amendment passed with the gun rights amendment, and the SCOTUS found the voting rights to be unconstitutional, would the gun rights still stand?


    If the amendment were passed and subsequently ratified, it would become part of the U.S. Constitution.

    Reading this stupidity almost made my brain short circuit. So basically, they are willing to surrender the chance at more rights because they have this notion (unsupported by any numerical data) that guns cause crime.


    D.C. had a handgun ban in 1981.

    What type of crossbow did John Hinckley use to shoot President Ronald Reagan?

    What about the concept of self-determination for DC residents?


    It would require a constitutional amendment (which I do not object to).

  • ||

    Bears mentioning that the nation's first gun-control laws were backed the Klan, to weaken the ability of newly-freed slaves to defend themselves.

  • Bill||

    Let's use some logic: Citizens of DC are also Citizens of the United States of America and subject to the rule of Constitutional Law. Amendment II states, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free state; the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." A semi-colon indicates an independent, but related thought.

    Except that in the actual Constitution, it's a comma, not a semicolon.

    And you really cannot make much of the punctuation or capitalization used in the Constitution. Back then, there was not yet a real wide-spread standardization of punctuation and even spelling, in some cases. And you can't correctly interpret 18th Century punctuation using modern understanding of what that punctuation indicates - just like you can't interpret 18th Century words using modern understanding of those words. Best example: "regulated."

  • ||

    I've always found it amusing that liberals can find that the 14th amendment grants the right to abortion-on-demand (via the "right to privacy" that isn't mentioned therein or in any other part of the Constitution) but can't seem to fathom the concept that the 2nd amendment protects an INDIVIDUAL right.

    They read the Constitution as broadly as possible when it suits them while pretending that another part of it doesn't even exist. And they manage to do it while keeping a straight face.

    Hypocrites.

  • ||

    If I were as dishonest as Eleanor Holmes Norton I would want guns banned also.

  • ||

    THE NRA IS DOING A GREAT JOB!IF YOU WANT TO JOIN IN THE BATTLE CALL 1-877-NRA-2000 AND JOIN THE NRA TODAY !!!THE MORE NUMBERS THE NRA HAS THE MORE THE POLITICANS WILL HAVE TO HONOR THE SECOND AMENDMENT.DON'T SIT ON THE SIDE LINES BE PART OF THE PUSH FOR FREEDOM !!!

  • ||

    Isn't it interesting how Mssss. Holmes-Norton is willing to keep da folk down on the plantation so she can be in step with the Marxist in the White House and all of his Fellow Travelers (who have also denied Black children in DC the right to a better education by voting against school vouchers) Black people have the right to self defense too. When will they wake up and realize that the Democrat party are their new slave masters?

  • LarryA||

    no mention that the Ensign amendment was a cynical poison pill? What about the concept of self-determination for DC residents? I disagree with the gun ban, but let's not pretend that this was being presented as a good-faith effort.

    It doesn't seem the Democrats who voted for it thought it was poison, given that the guns-in-national-parks amendment to the credit card bill wasn't.

  • Hank||

    I am pleased. Residents of the District are not responsible enough for gun ownership.

  • ||

    If guns can't be blamed for DC's murder,mayhem and pervasive disorder, Eleanor might have to look at the big black elephant in the room. And of course she and the rest of her kind don't want to do that.

    I find it is a reasonable assumption that the present level of urban Negro violence and dependancy is at least in part,a product of genetic selection mediated by liberal social policy. Easy welfare and inadequate incarceration of criminals has resulted in several generations of illegitimacy in these communities, with the most aggressive males sireing the most offspring with the most irresponsible females. The resulting loss of orderly and civilized behavior from black majority communities like DC, that we would expect is pretty much what we are seeing.

    A gun ban as comprehensive, draconian and unconstitutional as DC's can only serve to illustrate the wisdom and forsight of founding fathers, and the moral bankruptcy black leadership.

    I'm very pesimistic about reversing this degenerative trend given the lid of political correctiness clamped on American society today by leftist polititions and their media lapdogs.

    FROM MY COLD DEAD FINGERS!!!

  • ||

    "It is supremely frustrating that D.C. residents are forced to wait on voting representation because of the NRA's boldfaced attempt to impose its view of the Second Amendment on District residents."

    It is scary that people believe that the Bill of Rights is an imposition on themselves. The ignorance of this country is overwhelming at times...

  • ||

    Who elected her anyway?

  • ||

    The DC rulers' extreme anti-second-amendment stance seems ridiculous to outsiders, but the DC voters must be OK with it.

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