Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wishing Won't Make it So

Fable: Washington Post editorial, January 16th:
Barack Obama told us yesterday that he's a "strong proponent" of D.C. voting rights but that "this is just a pure political issue: Can we get it done?" . . .

That Mr. Obama seems dedicated to District issues is encouraging, but leadership by example isn't enough. For 200 years, the government has treated the residents of its capital as second-class citizens. With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and a "strong proponent" in the White House, there is no reason that a bill giving the District a true representative in Congress shouldn't pass -- and soon.
Reality: The authority of Congress, set forth in the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, clause 17:
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.
Meaning: As I've said,
Citizens of the District of Columbia aren't state residents, and thus lack elected Representatives or Senators. Judicial challenges repeatedly fail, because the Constitutional text is unambiguous. Congress can't reverse the Constitution via legislation.
Question: "Is it the media or the Obama team that think we're stupid?"

(via Bench Memos)

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