Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: May 3, 1802

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

5/2/1802: Washington D.C. incorporated as the capital of the United States. Article I, Section 8 empowers Congress to "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States."

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  1. Incidentally, it goes on to say, “and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be,”

    Are the courts actually enforcing that requirement that the purchase be with the consent of the legislature for the federal government to get rights superior to any ordinary property owner? Does the federal government, for instance, get state legislative approval when purchasing land for post offices?

    1. It’s more a question of Obama’s National Monuments, which were often *opposed* by the states in which the land (or underwater land) was located.

  2. So These States worked on a celebration of rights and independence from foreign mercantilist depredations. Meanwhile revolts in Germany and nearby sought to replace monarchies with dictatorships even more predatory, bloodthirsty and arbitrary.

  3. DC was clearly intended to be a diamond. Why isn’t DC a diamond?” he asked rhetorically.

    1. Didn’t Virginia get upset over something and take their land back?

      I may be wrong here, but I believe this became the Robert E Lee estate, which the US Army seized for tactical reasons when VA voted to secede — and then became Arlington National Cemetery.

      You can stand on the front porch of Lee’s house — and I have — and see what a cannon battery on his front lawn would have done to the Capitol buildings down below.

      1. Here’s a map of the original city:
        https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3851f.ct004223/

  4. If they amended it to make it “not exceeding 100 miles square” it might have enough white people in it so that it might finally get representation.

    1. If they gave the rest of it back to Maryland, it not only would be fully represented but abate issues in the Takoma neighborhood (and elsewhere) where the state line literally runs down the middle of the street. In a suburban neighborhood, that’s problematic…

      0f course, they’d have to repeal the Constitutional Amendment that gives DC three electoral votes for POTUS, and I doubt the Dems are willing to do that….

  5. “To exercise exclusive Legislation…” Doesn’t “exclusive” mean that the DC City government is Unconstitutional?

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