DC voting "rights" bill
The WashPo is publishing the thoughts of six spokesmen, relating to the proposal to (a) give DC a seat in the House; (b) offset this Demo seat by giving Utah an extra, likely Republican, seat and (c) attach a rider rolling back most of DC's onerous gun restrictions.
What I find appalling in the commentaries is that only Bob Levy deals with the problem that (a) and (b) are clearly unconstitutional. Congress can't go around handing out seats in the House, or deciding that a constitutional violation that favors the Democratic Party is OK so long as the Republican Party is given an equal benefit by another constitutional violation. The core of constitutional government involves a lot more than equalizing benefit to the two major parties.
Article I §2: the House shall be chosen by "the people of the several States." DC is not a State. The electors of the House members must have the qualifications of electors "of the most numerous branch of the State legislature." DC has a city council, not a legislature, and not a bicameral one. Every representative must be "an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."
I've seen a response to the effect that Congress often defines DC as a State in the laws that it enacts. Sure, Congress can do anything by defining a word; a definition just enables brevity by making a word (for purposes of that one statute) mean several different things. For example, in the Gun Control Act, "State" is defined to include not only DC but Puerto Rico and all US possessions. That doesn't mean that the Virgin Islands and Guam each get two senators.
DC is a pesthole that needs cleaning.
Eliminate home rule, appoint a caretaker council to handle crafting ordinances and enforcement of same, and give property owners the right to evict undesirables and gentrify their properties.
Want a representative? Then go live in a state.
Posted by: Kristopher at April 17, 2010 10:53 AM
So are the gun provisions the poison pill to prevent passage of the voting rights, or are the voting rights the poison pill to prevent passage of the gun provisions?
Posted by: denton at April 17, 2010 10:59 AM
They are horse traders.
The trouble is that they are trading horses they stole from US!
That makes them horse thieves.
Only one cure for horse thieves.
Posted by: Tarn Helm at April 17, 2010 12:02 PM
Hmmm.......... When they are arguing gun control (ie Heller) the argument is that the ruling only applies to DC and not the rest because DC is not a state, however for voting, they want it to count as a state. I would say that if DC gets a vote, then, at a minimum, all of the Heller rulings should apply to all of the states. That would take care of incorporation.
They want it both ways, and care not about the Constitution except where it fits their agenda.
Posted by: Anonymous at April 17, 2010 02:54 PM
Their cynicism knows no boundaries.
Posted by: Letalis Maximus, Esq. at April 17, 2010 03:58 PM
Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell makes a great arguement......
My poor mans excuse for a summary...
They pass this crappy law and it gets taken to court, they get the voting portion severed from the gun rights part and kill the voting portion....
Posted by: Thomas F at April 17, 2010 04:07 PM
Just a minor point: States needn't have bicameral legislatures. Look at Nebraska. Its legislature has only one branch, so that one is the "most numerous."
Posted by: Veracitor at April 18, 2010 10:58 AM
Appalling? Yes. Unexpected? Hardly.
The recent health "debate" should have disabused any rational person of the illusion that more than a trivial minority of the people running things in Washington have the slightest interest in the Constitution. The president and legislators care about his program and about increasing their personal wealth and power by giving our money to those who will return the favor, while most of courts care about "doing justice" without ever having to admit to any error by themselves or their predecessors by offending stare decisis.
Posted by: Ken at April 19, 2010 06:03 AM
Hmmm .... the correct way to do this would be to make DC a State.
Maybe we could make a few more states ... Like the State of Jefferson our of North Cal and Southern Oregon ... or Columbia, out of eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.
Or make Chicago and Cook county it's own state.
I s'pose those aren't good ideas, simply because they would increase the numbers of conservatives in congress ... can't have than now, can we?
Posted by: Kristopher at April 19, 2010 09:55 AM
No Congress CANNOT legally or constitutionally define any word.
Here is how it works.
Between the Creator and the created, who is the Boss?
Of course, the Creator is the boss.
Between We the People and the Constitution, who is the Creator?
We the People. So We the People are the boss of the Constitution.
Between the Constitution and the government, EVER BIT OF IT, who's the Creator?
Of course the Constitution is the Creator and is superior to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. All those in government are subordinate to the Constitution and the Constitution is subordinate to We the People. Do YOU believe you can tell your boss his/her job? Do it and call me from the unemployment line.
Neither the Courts, nor the executive, nor the Congress can define ANYTHING, interpret ANYTHING, or expound upon ANYTHING legitimately.
The Constitution is our set of rules for them. If it ain't granted it is withheld. There are no implied powers a fact easily proven be reading the granted powers and REALLY understanding what they grant.
It is time the We the People, the BIG BOSS, take hold of the reins and deal with these bastards as necessary. If a judge rules against us, then we oust him/her for "bad behavior". It is within our (We the People) authority to decide what the words of the Constitution mean. And we need only a basic majority to decide so.
WE decide NOT them.
For too long, our legal and other education system has taught everything incorrectly. Our government has been out of control for more than 150 yrs. It is time to reclaim our authority.
Tiocfaidh ar la!
Posted by: fwb at April 19, 2010 10:18 AM
FWB, for the purposes of a piece of federal legislation they could define a car as a horse and it would work for that USC section. The same could be said for a CFR. However, neither trumps the Constitution's definitions for what defines a state and who gets a representative.
Posted by: Montieth at April 19, 2010 01:01 PM
Latest reports are that this will be tabled and not acted on this year.
Posted by: Hank Archer at April 20, 2010 10:09 AM
I could give a rat's ass about legislation and Congress' authority, or lack thereof, to define.
IF IT'S NOT GRANTED CONGRESS DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY. Redefining words does not appear as a power in the Constitution. The "necessary and proper" clause does not confer that authority either. The N&P clause is not expansive but is restrictive on the other powers.
Hell Congress can't even let the DC Council pass legislation because that too violates the Constitution. ONLY Congress can legislate in the district so EVERY law the council has passed is not constitutional. That IS in the Constitution.
Posted by: fwb at April 20, 2010 10:31 AM