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From the Wayback Vault: DC Statehood?

DC Should Have Two Senators and at least One Congressman BUT…

As I eat a candy bar from last Halloween’s candy container – yes quite tasty – not bog butter or the egg buried for a year – but still quite tasty! – I got this out of the vault:


Real Clear Politics is reporting that the DC representation bill is dead for this session of Congress. 

While I am pleased this bill is dead, I am not pleased that DC hs no representation.  Many years ago as a YAF leader I opposed the constitutional amendment that would have given the District two senators and a congressman.  I am profoundly sorry for that opposition.  It was shortsided and partisan. 

But a bill cannot violate the Constitution.  The original Constitution does not allow a vote for DC.  I realize that Dean Kenneth Starr supports this bill and believes it is legal based on the provision that gives Congress the power to “…exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district…” (Article I, Section 8, paragraph 17)  Who am I to disagree with Judge Starr?  But I must.  The text does not support it: 

“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 of the most numerous branch of the State legislative.”  (Article I, Section 2, paragraph 1) 

In paragraph 3 of the same article and section, the various states are allocated representatives.  Not one for any district set up by Congress.

“Several States” has been interpreted by many statutes and some court decisions to include DC but that does not authorize voting rights for representation.  I cannot read the Constitution to give power to Congress to authorize the district it set up to have voting rights in Congress.  Certainly a non-voting delegate.  Not a representative.  Orrin Hatch opposed it even though the bill adds a representative to his state.  The bill would have caused Utahns to have two votes for Congress – one for a representative and one at-large representative. 

I do believe that DC should have two senators and at least one representative.  But it must be by constitutional amendment not ordinary legislation.  Let’s start that process and make it bipartisan.

The reason the bill died is gun politics.  There was a rider striking down the strict DC gun law.  I cannot let it go without this comment from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):

“I believe the District will become much less safe, and the opportunity for criminals, mentally unstable persons and juveniles to purchase weapons will increase dramatically,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement, adding she would vote against the bill if it repeals D.C.’s firearms laws.

With all due respect to Senator Feinstein, criminals can always get guns.  They get them illegally.  That’s the problem with DC and most cities.  They have areas dangerous to walk through and live in.  Because law-abiding people have guns?  No.  Anti-gun laws tend to hurt law-abiding citizens rather than criminals by preventing self-defense.  Guns in the right hands will make DC safer.


I also say: The Constitution does not allow DC to be a state without a district within the District:

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, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings

The District is constitutionally mandated. There is actually a powerful argument to retrocede the residents of the present District to Maryland for voting purposes. But I’d rather give the residents of DC two senators and at least one Representative. (My the way, the federal district of Mexico and DO get representation.)

And Puerto Rico should be essentially independent – some sort of Associated Status – we would provide defense and a reserve currency (and our embassies would also be their legations, too) but otherwise independent.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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