Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lazy Lawmaking

UPDATE: below

Though District of Columbia residents like me aren't represented on Capitol Hill, this result is required by the Constitution itself, as I repeatedly have shown. Though many Senators are lawyers, and Senators take an oath (Art. VI, cl. 3) "to support [the] Constitution," Senators are about to violate their oaths and the Constitution when they vote this week on legislation to add a House seat for the District (and one for Utah).

Prior complaints about taxation without representation have been rejected by the Courts. See Adams v. Clinton, 90 F. Supp.2d 35 (D.D.C.) (three-judge court), aff’d, 531 U.S. 941 (2000). But Obama already has signaled he will sign the bill, and there's no question the Democrats have the votes. Writing in the National Review, Hans von Spakovsky says the Congress is about to violate its "sacred honor":
This is not an attempt to secure representation for District residents’ interests, then, but a raw grab at political power. It will establish a new, permanently Democratic seat in the House of Representatives. The bill attempts to balance that by adding a second seat as well (bringing the total number of representatives to 437), and giving that seat to Utah. But unlike D.C.’s seat, Utah’s extra seat is guaranteed only until next year’s Census — after which each state will be assigned seats in proportion to its population. The extra seat will almost surely be transferred to a Democratic state like California or New York.

The fact that the bill is unconstitutional and politically motivated, however, does not mean the courts will strike it down. The reason is that in order for a court to strike down a law, someone needs to challenge the law before the court — and in order to challenge the law, a plaintiff needs to demonstrate standing, or that the law has harmed him in some way. Even if the bill contains a section that purports to provide lawmakers standing, there is grave doubt that the courts would respect it. Members of the Senate sued in 1997 regarding a statute that contained such a section, but the Supreme Court ruled that the senators lacked the direct and personal injury required for standing. The type of political injuries that the D.C. bill would inflict might not be sufficient to meet this standard, either.

Statehood proponents know that there is insufficient support nationwide to amend the Constitution to give D.C. a voting member of Congress. They’re willing to violate the Constitution instead. It will be a sad day in American political life if they succeed.
Laziness and expediency shouldn't trump the Constitution. Period. I hope a suit gets filed soon.


I should be more careful what I wish for--some good news and some bad news:
The Senate today passed a bill that for the first time would give the District a full voting member of the House of Representatives. But senators managed to attach an amendment that would scrap most of the District's local gun-control laws.


bobn said...

thy gotta get that 60th or 61st Senator somewhere! C'mon Carl, you gonna let a little thing like the Constitution of the United States of America get in the way? ;-)

Next you'll be saying there's a right to keep and bear arms in there somewhere. Sheesh!

OBloodyHell said...

> Next you'll be saying there's a right to keep and bear arms in there somewhere. Sheesh!

Well, I do hear that the libtards are firmly behind a portion of the stimulus package designed to arm bears with a backpack laser auto-targeting self defense system (to be developed, natch'), but that's as close as it gets.

Carl: I don't see how almost anyone can't challenge something that's a clear violation of the Constitution solely on that basis? Surely that represents a threat to one's "Life, Librety, and Pursuit of Happiness" to have a law be in violation of the basic contract between the people and government? That threatens not only one's self, but one's children's well-being.

When we do finally revolt, that sort of challengeability is going to have to be written directly into The Constitution, Mark II...

Carl said...

bobn, personally, I wish they would pay more attention to the right of DC residents to bear semi-auto arms than our "right" to a congressman. And, OBH, regretably, it will be difficut to craft a lawsuit with a plaintiff with proper "standing." I don't have standing--I'm getting a benefits from the law. And a non-DC resident can claim, at most, only 2/437th of "harm," which may not be enough.

OBloodyHell said...

> only 2/437th of "harm," which may not be enough.

So what is the nature of "class action" suits that this can't be done? Or is that carefully constructed to reflect only civil law?

> I don't have standing--I'm getting benefits from the law.

I don't understand. Who gets to decide what are "benefits" and what aren't, and why is the weighting *you* would apply ("I don't want the 'benefits', and I am very concerned by the illegality of it") irrelevant?


I repeat what I said about "The Constitution, Mk II".

The idea that you can't challenge ANYTHING on its outright Constitutionality, at least up until the SCotUS has made a final ruling, is criminal in and of itself.