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.Laziness and expediency shouldn't trump the Constitution. Period. I hope a suit gets filed soon.
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.
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.