Free to Choose (Except in D.C., Suckers!)

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The House of Representatives is debating a bill to give Washington, D.C a vote; it would empower fun-loving Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and cancel out her Democratic vote with an extra vote from Utah. DC's lonely Republican Carol Schwartz argues for the proposal:

Former solicitor general Kenneth Starr and Patricia M. Wald, a former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, jointly wrote, "There is nothing in our Constitution's history or its fundamental principles suggesting that the Framers intended to deny the precious right to vote to those who live in the capital of the great democracy they founded." Viet Dihn, a Georgetown University law professor and principal author of the USA Patriot Act, argued in a paper submitted to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that it is constitutional to give the District a vote.

Regardless of the outcome of this debate, why would the president—who has committed so much to fighting for democracy around the world—and Republican members of Congress not stand on the side of democracy for the 572,000 residents of the District of Columbia? Who is going to challenge in court the rectification of this centuries-long injustice? And if someone is cruel enough to try, let the Supreme Court decide otherwise.

What Schwartz is referring to is the White House's promise, remade yesterday, to veto any attempt to give D.C. a vote. (PDF here.)

Recent claims that H.R. 1433 should be viewed as an exercise of Congress's "exclusive" legislative authority over the District of Columbia as the seat of the Federal government are not persuasive. Congress's exercise of legislative authority over the District of Columbia is qualified by other provisions of the Constitution, including the Article I requirement that representation in the House of Representatives is limited to the "several States." Congress cannot vary that constitutional requirement under the guise of the "exclusive legislation" clause, a clause that provides the same legislative authority over Federal enclaves like military bases as it does over the District.

For all the foregoing reasons, enacting H.R. 1433's extension of congressional representation to the District would be unconstitutional. It would also call into question (by subjecting to constitutional challenge in the courts) the validity of all legislation passed by the reconstituted House of Representatives. 

This would be more convincing if the White House's legal eagles didn't view the Constitution as a kind of Mirror of Erised, surging forth whatever rights that sound good and preventing whatever sounds bad. There was a far stronger Constitutional argument for vetoing McCain-Feingold; hell, there's about as strong an argument for abolishing the FICA tax. As long as we're playing fast and loose with this stuff, it seems churlish to promise the second-ever Bush veto to deny some rights to people who didn't vote for Bush.

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  1. Small states shold be pissed off about this. For that matter, so should the rest of us. Why imitate direct democracy? Has it worked anywhere in the world? Am I missing something?

  2. “There is nothing in our Constitution’s history or its fundamental principles suggesting that the Framers intended to deny the precious right to vote to those who live in the capital of the great democracy they founded.”

    The founding father’s intent argument might be a little more influential if, you know, they were not involved in creating DC and not giving it a voting seat in the House.

    Or did I miss where the [fill in your favorite evil R, Nixon is a good one] Administration took the vote away from DC? Perhaps DC is a lot newer than I thought it was?

    How about something racical like a COnstitutional Amendment! They could even get to vote for President that way! Oh yea, that was already done in the 1960s.

  3. George Bush threatens to veto a bill that would give the right to elect a representative to the House of Representatives to the District of Columbia, a city that is largely black. Hmmmm. Maybe George Bush doesn’t like black people. Or maybe he just doesn’t like them to vote.

  4. ACK! racical should be radical

  5. Denying people who live in Washington DC a vote in Congress violates the principles of our democracy. The problem is, that violation of our principles is enshrined in the Constitution.

    I can’t see how this could be done without an amendment.

    House rules, on the other hand, could be written in such a way as to give Norton a de facto vote. For example, bills that are approved/denied by a one-vote margin go down if Holmes votes the other way, while tie votes are treated as having passed or failed according to how Holmes votes.

    Awfully clumsy, though. It would be better just to get rid of the colonial plantation status of DC in forthright manner.

    Which almost certainly would have happened already if DC’s demographics looked more like Wyoming’s.

  6. Regardless of the outcome of this debate, why would the president — who has committed so much to fighting for democracy around the world — and Republican members of Congress not stand on the side of democracy for the 572,000 residents of the District of Columbia?

    then make DC part of virginia. it doesn’t follow that if DC wants representation, the only choice is to make them a state or the equivalent. it’s too small, it’s too poorly run and doesn’t deserve the classification

  7. then make DC part of virginia. it doesn’t follow that if DC wants representation, the only choice is to make them a state or the equivalent. it’s too small, it’s too poorly run and doesn’t deserve the classification

    The DC part that came from Virginia is already part of Virginia. Perhaps Maryland would be the more appropriate choice, if they wanted DC, but they don’t either.

  8. how is DC smaller than, say, north dakota or more poorly run than louisiana?

    unless you want to run states like the english premier league, where the worst-run states get booted into a yet-to-be-created lower division…

  9. how is DC smaller than, say, north dakota or more poorly run than louisiana?

    physically smaller. it’s a city-state with a single industry–government. it should not be a state.

    as for poorly run, have you lived there? they can’t even fill potholes or provide decent water, and that’s 19th century technology.

  10. I’m with Guy in seeing this as obviously a Constitutional-level issue, regardless of where one stands on the “rightness” of it.

    And while the compromise purpose of it is understandable, how can one possibly justify throwing an extra seat to Utah in constitutional terms? If Congress can just create new house seats at will, why couldn’t whatever party is in the majority just jerrymander the opposition into impotence at the national level? “Look! Massachusetts just got 40 new representatives… ’cause they’re just so wise up there and all…”

  11. albo,

    I lived there for years.

    Have you considered that possibility that the lack of representation and self-determination is the reason why it is so poorly run? Because they don’t actually have control over their own government, DC politicians can be as irresponsible and pandering as they want, and never take the blame for the outcome. Not to mention, they’re given all of the responsibilities of a state government and a local government, with less genuine authority than most incorporated towns.

    And as for “one industry,” first, that’s wrong. DC has a huge tourism industry, and a decent-sized culture industry (go Dischord Records!). Second, so what? How many industries did South Dakota have when it was incorporated?

  12. Doing this via normal legislation is clearly unconstitutional, but in a world with a McCain-Feingold law, or in which nearly every human activity can be considered a form of interstate commerce, consitutionality is merely a quaint notion.

  13. Umbriel,

    When the 2000 census was conducted and the seats divvied up, Utah and North Carolina were in a virtual tie, and the final seat ended up going to NC after a massive lobbying campaign. It’s not just, “Hey, look, Utah!”

  14. Have you considered that possibility that the lack of representation and self-determination is the reason why it is so poorly run?

    no. they elect incompetents, it’s a one-party government, and they tolerate waste, abuse, and discredited policies. DC is a mess of its citizens’ own making.

  15. Isn’t America’s political capitol also its capitol of illiteracy? Yeah, this will work out well, so long as all ballots are written in Ebonics.

  16. Gee, albo, do you think it’s a genetic problem, or is there something in the water?

    If only those people were as good and wise as the rest of the country?

    “One-party government” – you mean like Utah, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Idaho…

    Someday I’m going to see an argument in favor of denying DC residents political equality with the rest of us that doesn’t depend on racism. Ebonics? What an asshole.

  17. I will echo the sentiment of those who think Floridians should leave the state if they don’t like the insurance rates:

    Why even live there if you’re so damned concerned about representation??

    Take that!

  18. Someday I’m going to see an argument in favor of denying DC residents political equality with the rest of us that doesn’t depend on racism

    Did you see me state or imply anything racist? No. Government incompetence and failed policies know no skin color. Argue the issue, don’t spew bile–you get spittle flecks on your screen.

    DC citizens can have their congressional needs addressed by becoming a part of virginia or maryland just as they could as a state.

  19. Practically, of course, Washington D.C. has 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.

    If D.C. should be able to elect a voting Representative, why shouldn’t Guam, Puerto Rico, et al?

  20. Arlington County VA used to be part of DC, they have voting rights now. The rest of DC is on Maryland’s side of the river, let them have it back. The constitution sets a maximum size for the district, it could be reduced to the capitol bldg, white house and national mall (or to zero).

  21. Why can’t people north of the Potamac be represented by Maryland and those south of the Potamac represented by Virginia?

  22. Hey sarcastic asshole:

    The capital of the US.

    The Capitol building. political capital. “capitol” as building used by the legislature.

    Capitol – the temple to Jupiter.

    dickhead = thou.

    This issues doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. It’s rife with hyperbole on all sides. It’s yet another battle in the culture war.

    *yawn*

    /exeuent several doors. pursued by large bear

  23. “Did you see me state or imply anything racist?”

    Yes, I saw you insist, even when questioned, that the cause of political mismanagement is inherent in the character of the people who live there. That is a very strong implication of racism.

    Larry A,

    “Practically, of course, Washington D.C. has 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.” Uh huh. Orrin Hatch is really looking out for the residents of Anacostia.

    Would you let people from the other 49 states pick your Congressmen? Then why is it ok for people in DC to have no voice in their government?

    “If D.C. should be able to elect a voting Representative, why shouldn’t Guam, Puerto Rico, et al?”

    IMHO, they should either provide representation for those places, or they should become independent. The half-assed colonial thing has got to go. Equal citizens should have equal rights.

  24. that the cause of political mismanagement is inherent in the character of the people who live there. That is a very strong implication of racism

    oh, bullsh-t. you’re seeing racism where there isn’t any. that shows the problem is you, not me.

    yes, the fault is the people of DC–not because of their race, but because they vote for incompetents and rascals and stay persistently with a party and policies that fail. That’s a political, not a moral, failing.

  25. albo,

    When you declare a population of peole to be inferior – inherently inferior to yourself, as opposed to underachieving because of circumstances – it strongly implies prejudice against that group. When you are talking about a group that is overwhelmingly black – you do the math.

  26. When you declare a population of peole to be inferior

    where in god’s name do you see any of this? am i at bizarroreason.com? DC voters made bad choices in their leaders, as have other cities and states and, many will say, US citizens in 2004. making that observation is not racist.

  27. joe, making an accusation that can be easily denied is bad tactics.

  28. Re: give DC, or parts of DC, back to MD.

    That’s not really an option. I think this proposal has been made before, and MD doesn’t want any part of DC. Why would they? Virginia also wouldn’t want DC — they already took what they originally ceded (Arlington).

    I also agree with posters arguing that this would require a constitutional amendment. That said, I think an amendment would be a good idea. No, DC isn’t run well, and yes, its elected officials are mostly idiots, but since when do we pick and choose which people are smart enough or competent enough to vote? For better or worse, that’s pretty much anathema to the idea of democracy.

    On the whole, it’s not a huge issue, but we look kind of hypocritical when tell other countries that “democracy is for thee, but not for me.”

  29. I should have added that it’s especially bad tactics when the accusation is hard to prove and harder to even be confident about.

    In other words, you’re getting nowhere by calling him a racist.

  30. The reason that the island possessions don’t get a vote is that they can leave the union at any time by a vote (I think, at least Puerto Rico can), and they don’t pay federal income tax.

    You’d have to have an amendment to make DC a state or, I think, to let it vote. This’ll be fun if it passes and then some measure goes down because of DC’s vote and the SCOTUS has to decide.

  31. George Bush threatens to veto a bill that would give the right to elect a representative to the House of Representatives to the District of Columbia, a city that is largely black. Hmmmm. Maybe George Bush doesn’t like black people. Or maybe he just doesn’t like them to vote.

    You have to admire the foresight of those racists who, as far back as 1800, realized that blacks would eventually (1) vote and (2) constitute a majority of D.C.’s population, and who acted on that knowledge by making sure that D.C. residents couldn’t vote for Congress.

  32. Also, DC gets a lot of federal government money. Though if it was a state it could end tax reciprocity and would be rolling in dough, to the detriment of MD and VA.

  33. Huh,
    I always thought the founders didn’t give DC a vote because they didn’t envision people living/working there full time. I mean, and correct me if I am wrong here, when the Constitution was drafted, DC t’was but a glimmer in the eye. It wasn’t founded until Maryland and Virginia ceeded land (mostly swamp) in 1788. Additionally, the first congressional representatives traveled from their home states to DC in between planting and harvest seasons to legislate. Nobody actually LIVED in DC on a regular basis until well after the idea was laid out in the Constitution.

  34. Hang on a sec here.

    joe’s comments about race were to the sarcastic bastard who brought up “Ebonics”. Not Albo, from how it appears.

  35. The reason that the island possessions don’t get a vote is that they can leave the union at any time by a vote (I think, at least Puerto Rico can), and they don’t pay federal income tax.

    Really, I guess no one bothered to tell the U.S. army and the Philippine insurgents back around 1898-1902. They could both have saved themselves a lot of trouble by simply holding a vote to see whether the Filipinos wanted to leave the embrace of the U.S.

  36. I think it’s fascinating that people outside the District feel they have the right to pass judgment on whether we “deserve” to have represenation in Congress. If you want to see corruption, look at the Republican Party in Illinois and Indiana (lily-white, of course). Why is no one demanding that these states lose representation?

    The people who object to the District getting a representative are racists, pure and simple, whatever excuse they give. They don’t respect blacks. Not many people think of Bernie Kerik as an average New Yorker or “Duke” Cunningham as an average Californian, but people do think of Marion Berry as an average Washingtonian. The more I hear people bitch at the prospect of another black face in Congress, the less I think of America.

  37. “DC voters made bad choices in their leaders, as have other cities and states and, many will say, US citizens in 2004.”

    Had you made that observation, it would not have been a statement about the inferiority of DC residents. However, when you declare the inability of DC residents to ever make good decisions, and explicity deny that thie incapacity has anything to do with structural causes, you are calling them out as an incapable, unethical, and inferior population.

    thoreau,

    I didn’t call him a racist. I called his argument racist. Declaring that an overwhelmingly black population is incapable of governing itself is racist. It was racist when the European colonials did it in Africa, it was racist when the slave owners did it in America, and it is racist when people today declare it about people in DC.

    Those people in Missippi aren’t capable of governing themselves, and need the rest of the country to do the job for them. No prejudice there, huh?

  38. I’d say there is at least some evidence of the Founders’ intent. Here is an excerpt (emphasis added) from James Madison, Federalist, No. 43, 288–90, 23 Jan. 1788:

    “The extent of this federal district is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy every jealousy of an opposite nature. And as it is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it; as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights, and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the election of the Government which is to exercise authority over them; as a municipal Legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them; and as the authority of the Legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession, will be derived from the whole people of the State, in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.”

    Here, BTW, is an amusing summary of Virginia’s debate on the federal city including George Mason’s prescient comment that “This ten miles square may set at defiance the laws of the surrounding states, and may, like the custom of the superstitious days of our ancestors, become the sanctuary of the blackest crimes.” Quite so.

    Anyway, I agree with joe and others that a Constitutional amendment would be required to give D.C. residents voting representation in Congress. The far better solution would be to re-cede the city to Maryland. Alas, both Maryland and the majority of D.C. residents are opposed to so sensible a solution.

  39. Alas, both Maryland and the majority of D.C. residents are opposed to so sensible a solution.

    because at its base the argument is politics, not the constitution, and no one can divorce it from that, no matter how many sensible solutions are proposed. The Ds and Rs see DC statehood as three new votes for Democrats.

    And i’m convinced that an accusation of “racism” is the new Godwin.

  40. Seaums,

    George Bush was not one of the founders of our nation. Kwix explains their motivations well, although I’ll add that “not full time” should also refer to the assumption that those people who lived there year-round would do so for only a few years, then move back when their service was up.

    On the other hand, I don’t think Bush is actually motivated by the desire to disempower DC residents for their race. Merely their political beliefs. Racism is most likely the effect there, not the cause.

  41. . If you want to see corruption, look at the Republican Party in Illinois

    Did you mean the Democrats?? Illinois is a pretty solidly Democratic state and the Dems machine is disgraceful in the metro area. (FUCK YOU — TODD STROGER)

  42. I say we address the problem of lack of representation for Puerto Ricans by combining that territory with Alaska.

    Sadly, Alaskans may object to this sensible solution.

  43. ChicagoTom,

    I suspect he was referring to your most recent GOP governor.

  44. as for poorly run, have you lived there? they can’t even fill potholes or provide decent water, and that’s 19th century technology.

    Don’t forget the exploding manholes.

    How about a Constitutional Amendment ceding it back to Maryland over and above any objection by the State of Maryland?

    Do it at night, on the anniversary of the Colts leaving Baltimore.

  45. I suspect he was referring to your most recent GOP governor.

    Well he said “party” — Ryan wasn’t the whole GOP party. (Republican Jim Edgar before him was pretty well respected and wasn’t considered corrupt). The Dems really seem to be the more corrupt group of policians in the state

  46. Oh for Christ’s sake, joe, are you going to tell us Alexandria and Georgetown were ghost towns in 1801? Sure, the ten miles that originally made up D.C. was in its entirety sparsely populated in 1801, but so was the whole friggin’ country.

    And if your “Sadly” comment is in response to mine regarding Maryland, please elucidate how the two situations are similar.

  47. Honestly, who cares what the founders thought of DC?

    Besides the 23rd Amendment, every relevant voting provision in the constitution uses the word “state.” We don’t need some elusive founders’ intent to interpret the constitution on this point.

    We also don’t need to know their intent to determine whether we should pass an amendment — the founders certainly wouldn’t have passed either the 13th or 14th amendments, and that didn’t stop us.

  48. then make DC part of virginia. it doesn’t follow that if DC wants representation, the only choice is to make them a state or the equivalent. it’s too small, it’s too poorly run and doesn’t deserve the classification

    The District of Columbia: the “Pluto” of states.

  49. And if your “Sadly” comment is in response to mine regarding Maryland, please elucidate how the two situations are similar.

    I don’t know where joe was going, but honestly, we can’t just foist DC upon Maryland without either of their consent. Why shouldn’t we expect that from them — particularly MD, which would get nothing in return?

  50. Doh! Shouldn’t = should

  51. Chris S:

    I agree. And, FWIW, I’m not an original intent guy. I merely thought it worth pointing out that the Starr / Wald quote is questionable.

    The sorts of concerns that worried the Founders regarding a federal city are largely OBE. D.C. residents should have voting representation in Congress, but there are better and worse ways of going about it. A mere statute is unlikely to withstand constitutional challenge and there really is no good reason, even ignoring the politics involved, to make D.C. a separate state. Richmond may not be all that fond of Northern Virginia, but the re-ceding of the Virginia portion of the land made perfect sense and has worked quite well. Demographically and politically, D.C. is similar enough to its contiguous parent state of Maryland for a re-ceding to make just as much sense, if not more. (Added Bonus: D.C. residents could then enjoy the same high level quality of local, state and federal government that is enjoyed by, oh, say, Baltimore!)

    Finally, I’m not saying D.C. should be “foisted” on Maryland. I’m saying the overwhelmingly liberal Democratic state of Maryland should welcome back its long-lost land and citizenry out of due regard for the injustice of its neighboring citizens having to suffer “taxation without representation.” And D.C. residents could then enjoy the same high level quality of local, state and federal government that is enjoyed by, oh, say, Baltimore.

  52. DAR,

    The assumption at the time was that the rest of the country would be increasingly populated by permanent residents considered citizens of those places, while DC was not.

    The similarity between the Alaska and Maryland proposals is that the residents of the “recipient” state would both have their political clout diminished through dilution. Current Alaskan and Marylandinianites would gain no Congressional reps, but would have their representation in the Senate diminished.

  53. Hmmm.. redundancy caused by wet-ware cut & paste malfunction. Oh well.

  54. Oh, wait, I didn’t realize that Maryland was liberal.

    OK, then, the dilution of their resprsentation in the Senate is entirely appropriate, then.

  55. Whose assumption, joe? Whose specifically?

    And while I haven’t crunched the numbers lately, it seems almost certain that Maryland would pick up at least one more seat in the House.

  56. OK, then, the dilution of their resprsentation in the Senate is entirely appropriate, then.

    Phooey! Their representation in the Senate would be unchanged ideologically. The only “dilution” would be that their two Democratic senators would have a slightly wider constituency to spread the pork around for, but if that’s your idea of the purpose of congressional representation, I guess I’ll have to concede that point.

  57. George Bush was not one of the founders of our nation. Kwix explains their motivations well, although I’ll add that “not full time” should also refer to the assumption that those people who lived there year-round would do so for only a few years, then move back when their service was up.

    No, Kwix explained them inaccurately, as D.A. Ridgely pointed out.

    And if the disenfranchisement of D.C. voters in 1800 wasn’t a “civil rights” issue then, I don’t think that the infusion of a black voting majority somehow magically transforms it into one. (Maybe the solution to move the U.S. government to some 95% white town–surely there’s one in Utah that would volunteer–but on the condition that all its present and future inhabitants would be forever deprived of voting representation in Congress. After a few decades, the population of the former District of Columbia would dwindle down to those who could be supported by productive enterprise rather than battening off the federal teat, and maybe Maryland would agree to take it back. Failing that, we could give it to Puerto Rico or Guam.)

    On the other hand, I don’t think Bush is actually motivated by the desire to disempower DC residents for their race. Merely their political beliefs. Racism is most likely the effect there, not the cause.

    Gosh, how could I possibly have misread “Maybe George Bush doesn’t like black people. Or maybe he just doesn’t like them to vote.” as an accusation of racism?

  58. Seamus:

    You must realize that joe sometimes struggles with standard English. One can’t, for example, disempower people who haven’t been empowered in the first place. (Never mind that the issue here is enfranchisement.) So also, he seems to confuse racism, i.e., actions or attitudes motivated by racial animus, with any negative outcome that coincidentally affects a disproportionate percentage of any given race or ethnicity. Thus, for example, sickle cell anemia is a racist disease, if you see what I mean. Besides, when joe says “black people,” he doesn’t really mean just black people but only black people who share his politics. Clarence Thomas, for example, (whose votes on the Supreme Court Bush is probably very happy about) probably isn’t really a black person as far as joe is concerned. So you see, Seamus, you keep having these problems because you’re not sufficiently fluent in joe-speak. Stick around and you’ll eventually get the hang of it, though. Just think “conclusion first, meaning of terms to follow.”

  59. [i]Really, I guess no one bothered to tell the U.S. army and the Philippine insurgents back around 1898-1902. They could both have saved themselves a lot of trouble by simply holding a vote to see whether the Filipinos wanted to leave the embrace of the U.S.[/i]

    I suspect that if I write that slavery is illegal, Seamus will say “Really, I guess no one bothered to tell the white slaveowners prior to 1865.”

  60. Also, you’ll note that the Philippines are no longer part of the United States.

  61. Also, you’ll note that the Philippines are no longer part of the United States.

    And you’ll note that that was brought about by Act of Congress, not by vote of the Philippine people. It would take the same thing to give Puerto Rico its independence (or Guam, or the US Virgin Islands).

  62. I really wish they would keep DC on its side of the river. That is all I ask votes or not, just stay over there.

    Oh, and start selling cigarettes over there please? I must have a “just came from Virginia” sign on my head from being asked for a cigarette every block (some traffic lights when driving too). When that happens in Arlington I sometimes ask if the person is from DC and it is 100% yes.

    One good thing about DC bars going non-smoking, their smokers don’t ask for several cigarettes in a row. Well, that might not be true as the only DC bar I have been in since they went non-smoking is Dragonfly for the Reason gathering. One can always dream.

    Now that it has warmed up, it is DC bum season in Arlington, along with fermented human urine season. Not sure if they are Virginia bums or DC bums.

  63. Hey, if making D.C. independent of the rest of the U.S. is on the table, I could get behind that. But they’d have to be willing to take the federal corridor with them. Otherwise, no dice.

  64. I suspect that if I write that slavery is illegal, Seamus will say “Really, I guess no one bothered to tell the white slaveowners prior to 1865.”

    So I guess you’ll be ready to provide me a citation to the equivalent of the 13th Amendment. That is, what Act of Congress changed the status quo from what it was in 1902, and authorized Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. to secede by referendum? (Hint: there isn’t one. There have been three referenda in Puerto Rico (in 1967, 1993, and 1998) to determine whether they preferred independence, statehood, or continuation of commonwealth (estado libre asociado) status, but the results of the referenda were not legally binding on the United States.)

  65. I can’t see how this could be done without an amendment.

    Dang, that’s three times in one day I agree with joe. One of us is going to have to check his meds.

  66. Well, Seamus, given the fact that the Philippines left the US because they wanted to, and then the US let them, and the policy the US has seems to be to let them go if they want to, it would seem to be that voting on it works. Except maybe for Guam.

  67. Dang, that’s three times in one day I agree with joe. One of us is going to have to check his meds.

    The problem, R C, is that you’re taking meds approved by the FDA.

    You need to branch out and have more fun. That would clear your head.

  68. Except maybe for Guam.

    And, of course, the Confederacy.

  69. “Whose assumption, joe? Whose specifically?”

    I love it when people single me out for questions no one else is expected to answer. It’s a good way to know who’s arguing in good faith.

    “And while I haven’t crunched the numbers lately, it seems almost certain that Maryland would pick up at least one more seat in the House.”

    Yes, the Representative from DC. The citizens of Maryland, on the other hand, would gain no additional House seats.

  70. “Phooey! Their representation in the Senate would be unchanged ideologically.”

    Good job tipping your hand, D.A. Shall we now combine Wyoming and Idaho? What would their residents possibly have to complain about – they’d still be represented by Republicans.

  71. Seamus,

    Unlike you, my opinions about civil rights are not based on the thinking of the voting class in 1800s America.

    BTW, that statement about George Bush was not made by me.

  72. DA, if you wish to discuss people’s grasp of English, I suggest you not engage in such mangling the definions of words.

    “actions or attitudes motivated by racial animus”

    Motivated by animus?

    Apparently, there’s no such thing as paternalistic racism in D.A.’s world.

  73. The assumption at the time was that the rest of the country would be increasingly populated by permanent residents considered citizens of those places, while DC was not.

    Your words, joe, not mine.

    Yes, the Representative from DC. The citizens of Maryland, on the other hand, would gain no additional House seats.

    Sure, just like Jim Moran’s Northern Virginia seat really isn’t a Virginia seat in Congress but D.C.’s. Sheesh.

    Shall we now combine Wyoming and Idaho?

    Are the citizens of either state currently without representation in the Senate? If every resident of D.C. picked up and moved to the Maryland suburbs tomorrow, would the rest of the residents of the state have their representation ‘diluted’? Ohmygawd! Do you think we need swift federal action to keep that from happening?

  74. “Your words, joe, not mine.” I didn’t deny that they were my words. I pointed out how enjoyable it is that I, and only I, get asked to provide names when discussing original intent, while the concept is widely floated by those who agree with you without you batting an eye.

    FYI, DA, Jim Moran’s seat is the seat of the people of his district. No one else gets a say about who sits there, and he has no direct interest in advocating for their interests.

    “Are the citizens of either state currently without representation in the Senate?”

    Ah, I see. Taking away the representation of people who currently have it is unacceptable, while never allowing them to have it in the first place is perfectly OK. I trust you bring the same line of thinking to federal tax withholdings.

  75. Sure, animus — hostility or animosity. Your problem with that? And “paternalistic”? I wait with bated breath to hear what that means (to you).

    … I, and only I, get asked to provide names…

    Persecution complex now, too? BTW, my first comment on this thread actually was to provide a citation. You know, that “reality based” evidence stuff you like to talk about when you happen to have evidence handy.

    As for your FYI, the exact same would be equally true and equally false of a Maryland house district covering what is now D.C.

    P.S. — just between you and me, I know Seamus personally and I guarantee you his opinions are usually based on much earlier thinking than 1800s America.

  76. joe, could immigration and naturalization be considered unfair dilution of representation?

    I certainly wouldn’t take that approach, but if the incorporation of a non-state area into an existing state is somehow an unfair/unjust/whatever dilution of representation, couldn’t the same be said of allowing immigration?

    Were there any cases in the early history of the country where territories were added to existing states rather than made into states of their own? If so, were those cases considered unfair dilutions of representation, or were they considered expansions of the state’s assets, territory, tax base, and whatnot?

    Finally, in they hypothetical case where DC was added to MD, DC would lose 3 electoral votes but MD would gain 1 electoral vote. Meanwhile, the pool of electoral votes would shrink by 3 (unless the House was enlarged slightly). So it’s not like MD residents would lose out completely. Controlling a larger bloc of votes, even if the bloc is (roughly) proportional to population can be seen as an advantage.

    Why? Well, would you rather be the tie-breaking voter in FL (25 electoral votes) or NM (4 or 5 electoral votes)?

    None of this is to suggest I’m for or against anything, just that I think the issue is more complicated than diluting Senate votes in MD.

  77. “Practically, of course, Washington D.C. has 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.

    If D.C. should be able to elect a voting Representative, why shouldn’t Guam, Puerto Rico, et al?”

    When they have to pay Federal Income Tax, they can bitch…

  78. “I wait with bated breath to hear what that means (to you).”

    Paternalism is the belief that people are incapable of taking care of themselves, so they must be denied power over themselves for their own good. There was a widely-held ideology of paternalism throughout the ante-bellum South, by those who thought of their slaves as child-like members of their households. This concept cannot possibly be as novel as you are indicating.

    “As for your FYI, the exact same would be equally true and equally false of a Maryland house district covering what is now D.C.”

    Exactly. Ergo, your statement that the residents of Maryland would gain representation if DC was absorbed into Maryland and given a House seat is false.

    “P.S. — just between you and me, I know Seamus personally and I guarantee you his opinions are usually based on much earlier thinking than 1800s America.” I had a roommate like that, once. He wrote a short story about a wonderful religious reawakening being started in America by the burning of a female bishop at the stake.

  79. Albo, Virginia does NOT want DC, not even if Maryland rejects it. We got our slice of DC back in 1846, before the Civil War, before FDR, and before the city became the open sewer it is today. We were lucky.

    Give the wretched place back to Maryland; DC’s politics are on the same track to destruction as Maryland’s.

    The Commonwealth does not need DC to infect it with DC’s failed socialism and those “voters” supporting such a foul ideology, please. We are quite fine as it is.

    –PB, Arlington, Va.

  80. thoreau,

    “joe, could immigration and naturalization be considered unfair dilution of representation?”

    Because of how Senate seats are distributed, anything that increases or decreases any state’s populatin faster or slower than any other state is unfair.

    My point was merely that Marylanders’ opposition to such a scheme is not without sense. We’re stuck with this unfair representation system in the Senate, and I can sympathize with those who don’t wish to be further victimized by it.

  81. “Practically, of course, Washington D.C. has 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.”

    I want to go back to this. This is the equivalent of stating that, should the world ever be ruled by the UN, the United States should not have representation therein, because UN headquarters is on American soil.

    How’s that grab you?

  82. thoreau:

    I know you’re being reasonable and all here, but really this whole business of dilution is a complete red herring. The more seats a state has in the House, the more effective lobby it has for all sorts of purposes. When I earlier mentioned that ideologically incorporation of D.C. into Maryland would make no difference, joe jumped on that as some sort of hidden agenda but I meant it quite sincerely. It would matter if, say, Maryland were a borderline Republican state and incorporation of D.C. would tip it the other way, but as matters stand it wouldn’t make a difference and that’s a good thing. Besides, not only immigration, etc., but plain-vanilla migration of citizens from one part of the country has the same ‘diluting’ effect. Most states welcome such growth.

    None of this has any reason to do with why Maryland opposes incorporating D.C.. It’s all about whether Annapolis and Baltimore remain the Big Swinging D*cks of Maryland politics plus their fear of having to take on the myriad structural and financial problems D.C. has. Those are reasonable, self-interested grounds. But worry about vote dilution doesn’t even make the event horizon of most opponents on either side of the District line.

    BTW, D.C. wouldn’t be losing three seats except the hypothetical one House and two Senate seats it would have if it were a state.

  83. Paternalism is the belief that people are incapable of taking care of themselves, so they must be denied power over themselves for their own good. There was a widely-held ideology of paternalism throughout the ante-bellum South, by those who thought of their slaves as child-like members of their households. This concept cannot possibly be as novel as you are indicating.

    I see now. No, you’re right, it isn’t novel to me. Its modern-day version is called liberalism.

  84. Yeah, those nasty liberals, always trying to ban porn and gay sex.

  85. Chris S. | March 22, 2007, 1:04pm | #
    …Besides the 23rd Amendment, every relevant voting provision in the constitution uses the word “state.” We don’t need some elusive founders’ intent to interpret the constitution on this point….

    They use STATE in every mention of Congress power to levy taxes as well.

    You can’t make a rational argument to split “Representatives and direct taxes” as one lucid concept from Art.1 Sec.2. straight to the 16th amendment.

  86. They use STATE in every mention of Congress power to levy taxes as well.

    And that is a good argument for them not having federal income tax, but it is no support for them becoming a State or having a vote in the House.

    Not accusing you of that position at all.

  87. The American people have been incapable of electing a competent government since ~1930.

    There. I said it. I hate everyone. You could even say I’m “anti-Americanist.”

    (Luckily, there’s a lot more to life than politics and electing a government. Like art, and business, and medicine. But we’re working hard to make these all government affairs, too!)

  88. Joe: Which almost certainly would have happened already if DC’s demographics looked more like Wyoming’s.

    The debate about D.C. statehood/voting rights was going on long before D.C. became majority black. Really, the mid-20th Century was almost the only period in which the debate was inactive.

    Interestingly, D.C. is not nearly as much Chocolate City as it used to be. In the early ’70s, it was around 80% black, but now that number is just over 50%. A lot of Central Americans and white yuppies have infiltrated Chocolate City. It’s a very different place, even from when I moved there in the early ’90s.

    This thread raises another interesting issue, especially concerning the Utah end of the legislation. There is nothing in the Constitution that caps the number of Representatives at 435. In fact, expansion of the House due to population growth was common before the 20th Century. Current Congresscritters represent far more people than their predecessors did–probably too many. I’ve seen calls to expand the House to upwards of 1,000 members, so that each Member represents less than 100,000 people or so.

  89. Dakota:

    They use STATE in every mention of Congress power to levy taxes as well.

    You can’t make a rational argument to split “Representatives and direct taxes” as one lucid concept from Art.1 Sec.2. straight to the 16th amendment.

    Sure I can. Art. I Sec. 8 is the original source of Congress’ tax power, and it barely mentions “states” at all. That section certainly never indicates that the tax power is limited to the states. The only limitation regarding “states” — in Art. 1 Sec. 2 — concerns “direct taxes.” Any limitation in that respect was explicitly repealed by the Sixteenth Amendment, which uses the word “State” but not in a limiting way — quite the opposite, in fact: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

    So any limitation related to the states regarding “direct taxes” was amended by the Sixteenth Amendment, and any limitation regarding representatives in Art. I, Sec. 2 was not.

  90. My own proposal on this would certainly require an amendment to the Constitution.

    We should make DC the state of Columbia, with representation in both houses of Congress, but move the Capitol out of D.C.

    Like the European Union, we could have two capitol cities, with the government rotating by season. I propose a winter capitol in Fargo, North Dakota. For a summer capitol, I believe there will soon be real estate available in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Thus we would have a geographical balance that we now lack with the capitol in D.C.

  91. It’s the llllliving constitution… WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

    I agree with joe on this one. Sorry guys.

  92. Like the European Union, we could have two capitol cities, with the government rotating by season. I propose a winter capitol in Fargo, North Dakota. For a summer capitol, I believe there will soon be real estate available in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    I like it! But you haven’t gone far enough:

    Winter capital: Barrow, Alaska
    Summer capital: Needles, California

  93. Anyone who moved to DC sometime during the last 200 years knew going in that they were not going to have a voting representative in Congress. So I have precisely zero sympathy for them.

    It’s more difficult to dismiss the concerns of those who were born there, but after all, it’s a short move to MD or VA on your 18th birthday. The reverse is also true, which would make making DC an income-tax free zone a nightmare; for many people, the rent for an apartment in Anacostia is far less than their income tax…

  94. Former solicitor general Kenneth Starr and Patricia M. Wald, a former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, jointly wrote, “There is nothing in our Constitution’s history or its fundamental principles suggesting that the Framers intended to deny the precious right to vote to those who live in the capital of the great democracy they founded.”

    I suppose the Left can stop vilifying Ken Starr now.

  95. crimethink-

    I suspect that if DC became a tax-free zone the rents would go up considerably. The 500,000 wealthiest people in the US would suddenly find it convenient to maintain an apartment in DC. Perhaps they would start sharing these apartments with the next wealthiest 500,000 people, living in cramped conditions for the 2 or 3 hours a year that they’d spend in these residences.

  96. anonymous coward,

    And yet…liberals are NOT turning into Ken Starr fans.

    It’s almost as if your smug certainty about the liberal mindset is, oh I don’t know, pulled out of your ass.

  97. Crimethink:

    It’s more difficult to dismiss the concerns of those who were born there, but after all, it’s a short move to MD or VA on your 18th birthday.

    Couldn’t you make that argument about any denial of rights? For instance, if we made VA a “No Free Speech Zone,” couldn’t Virginians just move to North Carolina, WVA, and MD? Would that make it any better?

    Why are residents of D.C. obligated to move out of their homes and birthplaces in order to get the same rights everyone else already has?

  98. Why are residents of D.C. obligated to move out of their homes and birthplaces in order to get the same rights everyone else already has?

    As covered already:

    1. THE CONSTITUTION HAS NOT BEEN AMENDED TO GIVE THEM CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATION. THEY ALREADY VOTE FOR PRESIDENT, THROUGH AN AMENDMENT FROM THE 1960s.

    EOF

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