Thursday, February 12, 2009

D.C. Vote Advances Toward Unconstitutionality

The day when the D.C. Voting Rights Act is finally declared unconstitutional came closer, as the bill passed a Senate committee by a vote of 11-1. Although the bill fell 3 votes short of avoiding a filibuster in the last Congress, the Democrats' big gains in the Senate suggest that the bill could actually become law this year.

Sorry, it's still unconstitutional. Look, this isn't complicated. The Constitution provides that "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States." Each representative is required to "be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen." D.C. is not a state and Congress can't just pretend that it is. Full analysis here and here.

Besides, the Voting Rights Act is still a half-measure that wouldn't solve the problem of taxation without representation. It would be nice to have a Representative in the House of Representatives, but we need Senators too. Until we have both, the District will continue to be a sad exception to American principles of democracy.

1 comment:

JMS said...

Question: Who would have standing to challenge the constitutionality of this proposed bill? A fellow Congressman maybe - but that seems unlikely given political realities. And if it's just a member of another state (say PA), would the injury be so abstract as to fall under the prohibition against generalized taxpayer grievances?