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The Democrats’ unconstitutional attempt to give Washington, DC, a seat in the House of Representatives through legislation is out of gas. Why? Not enough members are willing to concede that the 2nd Amendment applies to residents of the city. From the Washington Times, Gun provision foils D.C. voting rights bill
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said the bill was on hold indefinitely, conceding that Democratic Party leaders are stymied by an amendment to the measure that would scale back the city’s tough anti-gun laws.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to move the bill at this time,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill.
House Democratic leaders are torn between championing D.C. voting rights and fighting a rollback of gun laws backed by the National Rifle Association, which enjoys widespread support from Republicans and conservative Blue Dog Democrats.
…The amendment by Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, would have overturned the city’s gun laws, which essentially ban ownership of handguns and are among the toughest gun control measures in the country.
Strange thing, isn’t it, when the people who claim DC residents have a right that doesn’t exist under the Constitution balk at ensuring them a right that does. It’s almost as if it’s not about individual rights at all.
Washington, D.C., is on the road to obtaining a voting member in the House of Representatives. Tuesday the Senate voted to cut off debate 62-34 on the Voting Rights Act. President Obama has said he’ll sign it if it survives court challenges.
The court challenge is a formidable obstacle, because the legislation is unconstitutional. The Foundry at the Heritage Foundation sets it out in The Constitution is Clear: DC is a Federal City.
A few highlights:
Congress Doesn’t Have the Authority: Congress lacks the constitutional authority to simply grant the District a voting representative, as the Constitution explicitly limits such representation to states alone. Members of Congress are bound by their oath to reject proposals that violate the Constitution.
Article I, Section 2: “Representatives…shall be apportioned among the several States.” The District, as courts and Congress have long agreed, is not a state.
Constitutional Amendment: Congress cannot alter the Constitution by itself; an amendment, passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and ratified by 38 states, is required.
Statehood: While the Constitution grants Congress authority to legislate for the District, this does not grant Congress the authority to violate other provisions of the Constitution. Thus, Congress can no more rely on this authority to add a representative in violation of the Art. I, Sec. 1 requirement that representatives be apportioned to the several “states” than it could rely on the Post Office Clause to ban criticism of the Post Office, which would violate of the First Amendment. Both would be unconstitutional acts.
Precedent: Granting the city a voice in presidential elections required an amendment, the 23rd. The last serious attempt to give the District voting representation was in the form of an amendment, which passed Congress but was not ratified by the required number of states.
Liberal Scholars Agree: Liberal Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, an advocate of direct congressional representation for DC, says it would be “ridiculous to suggest” that delegates to the Constitutional Convention would have worked out such specific language and rules for Congress “only to give the majority of Congress the right to create a new form of voting members from federal enclaves like the District.”
People in D.C. having representation is fine with me. But do it by Constitutional amendment.