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September 2007
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The DC Rep Thing

It got stopped in the Senate, but could one of my lawyer readers (you know who you are) explain to me the argument for how what they were proposing to do was possibly constitutional? Isn’t Article I, Section 2 as amended by Amendment XIV Section 2 fairly clear that it is STATES that have representation?

Is the argument based on Article I, Section 5? “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members”? If that is the case it seems to open up the possibility of legislation adding Representatives for all sorts of other non-State entities. And that seems like it could be an absolutely horrible can of worms to get in to.

There is definitely a strong argument that people who live in DC should have representation. But it also seems clear (to me anyway) that an attempt to do this by statute is unconstitutional. A constitutional amendment, retrocession of most or all of DC to Maryland, or making DC a state all seem like options that WOULD be constitutional, but not this. The fact that a majority of both houses supported this and it was only stopped by filibuster in the Senate scares me. But then again, most legislation coming out of the congress scares me.

(For the record, retrocession is the only one of the options I would personally support. It is the ONLY one of the options that makes sense to me and does not seem to set bad precedents. I would leave a small federal district with no legal residents for the capital mall and surrounding federal buildings. But of the options it seems to have almost no political support and has not been looked at seriously in many years. )