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  • Preserve the District of Columbia's Unique Constitutional Status


    The Senate is currently considering legislation that would give the District of Columbia a voting member in the House of Representatives.  The legislation is patently unconstitutional, which should end the debate at the outset.  But it is important to note that it is unconstitutional not simply because it was written that way in a musty old 18th Century document.  In this instance, the Constitution’s text is not an anachronism, something well suited for the late 18th Century but no longer applicable in contemporary times.  The Founders certainly knew that the Constitution would not allow D.C. to have a voting representative in Congress, and they foresaw that the city would contain hundreds of thousands of residents.  Pierre L’Enfant, who designed the city in the 1790s under George Washington’s direction, anticipated that the city would grow to 800,000 people (more than today’s population, in fact). 

    In our Founders’ view, the District was intended to be a unique federal enclave with a special constitutional status.  While they insisted that government operate by the consent of the governed, meaning that those who hold actual political power must be chosen directly or indirectly by the people, they also accepted the fact that the federal city would not have voting representation in Congress.  They believed that Congress would exercise collective responsibility for promoting the federal city’s interests.  History has vindicated this view. 

    So, what should be done?  One possibility that ought to be considered seriously is exempting residents of the District of Columbia from federal income tax burden.  After all, if the problem is “no taxation without representation,” as many activists claim, this would appear to be a viable remedy.  This option is fully constitutional, has prior precedents, and would preserve the District’s unique constitutional status.

    Posted in First Principles, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Preserve the District of Columbia's Unique Constitutional Status

    1. Bob4232, Chicago says:

      On the proposal that DC residents should be relieved of income taxes I would remind the authors of that proposal that the Constitution says that excise taxes must be uniform throughout the United States. Income taxes that fall under 10% have been held to be enforcible as “excise” taxes and due to deductions and the like the lower end incomes of DC residents can’t be exempted. Also, the “employees share” of Social Security taxes is defined in the law as an income tax and that tax is less than 10%.

      Also, DC residents who were born in the States of this Federal Union remain citizens of those states and are liable to taxes in those states where applicable.

    2. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      The Constitution is very specific in that DC is not to be a State. As always, the Constitution is explained in the Federalist Papers (in this case #43 by James Madison). The Founders did not want the Seat of Government to be inside a State because the interests would be skewed to that State. In other words, it would be a conflict of interest if the Seat of Government were within a State.

      The Constitution also prohibits Congress from granting Statehood to DC so I cannot gather how they (Congress) think they can get away with this. The Powers in our Government are so quick to grant things to every whining faction that they would destroy and violate an important piece of the Constitution!

      You could consider removal of Federal Taxation but as poster Bob from Chicago stated, the levying of taxes must be uniform to all citizens. DC’s representation is the entire Congress and that has been like that since the conception of the Federal Town, DC.

      The final statement to the whining of the DC populous lies at the end of an article by Joseph Postell and Nathaniel Ward:
      “And finally, it in always to be remembered that residents of the District are not compelled to live in the federal city, even if they work in the District.”

    3. Larry in Texas says:

      I can get behind that way of thinkin’! But what about the rest of us who are being taxed and not represented.I’ll make that point later. How about this? Abolish ALL taxes period except at the State level. Then when a person or “group” of persons have a certain issue they want addressed they can “pass the plate” if you will, and forward “that” money to that authority having jurisdiction and deal with wants and NEEDS that way. If more money is needed for a LEGISLATED MANDATE let the Federal Government jump through the same hoops they NOW EXPECT us to jump through to find money! It’s a pay as you go plan instead of a you’ve paid now go away plan!! Simply put: If through representation a law or legislative mandate has been passed then those who requested and pushed it through will be responsible for “finding the money” from those who enabled the Representative, on point, to speak on there behalf. I can assure you that some “(..insert sexual orientation pronoun here..)” rat species in California has NEVER suffered the imprint of the sole of my boot in any capacity. Nor has same rat/rodentia suffered harm or loss of life due to a projectile leaving the muzzle of any one of my firearms. With that being said, why should I then be forced by nature of being an American,tax payin’ patriot,to pay for some untold millions of dallars worth of (“whatever Pelosi decides to with it down the road”) pork earmark? Did I lose anybody? I know it SOMETIMES seems like I rant, aimlessly takin’ shots at innocent bystanders- until their credentials and motives are actually checked. Then it’s just a good shot!! With that being said, I, through the NRA, helped by monetary and structural support, to return the rights of those who live in the Nations’ capitol to defend themselves again! They didn’t ask me to do it! I just helped because it was the right thing to do and that’s how I was raised. All, who live there now, have the “RIGHT” to defend themselves and refuse to be victims at the mercy of a Liberal court system. That work was done without costing the American taxpayer a dime.It’s entirely up to each indivdual whether or not to exercise that right if ever forced to make a life or DEATH call in an instant! They have been Represented- and now the people of D.C. have a right that was afforded them by the Constitution back in their corner. GOD is good, AMEN.

    4. Spiritof76, New Hampshire says:

      How do these people get away with violating the Constitution after having taken the oath to defend and protect the Constitution? Is a repeat of 1776 the only answer to what is going on in DC? I am just so disgusted.

    5. Larry in Texas says:

      My previous address did weave in and out of the realm that the actual question laid forth. I'll try again with shorter response. Literally, by definition of the Constitution, District (of Colombia) is not the same language as "State" which affords "States" certain rights and "obligations"that do not hinder the DISTRICT. There should literally be NO ONE living in the DISTRICT at all, save those who are engaged in the act of overseeing the day to day operation of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT or policing it's streets and buildings,to include a fire fighting brigade with it's own self contained structure and housing, or those otherwise working under direct supervision of their respective Congresssional delegate! Basically, public housing in this instance should be construed to operate as boarding for temporary, if not by the term,individuals employed to work as "on call" employees of a Federal entity.These workers, to include the House and Senate members, all of their interns, office help and support services,are all citizens of the State that they represent or legally reside in , or at least they should be as mitigated by the Constitution. Therefore no person, by law, has permanent residency in the "DISTRICT" as such calling it their HOME STATE and requiring consequential "Representation". I can name a few Senators and Congressmen who somehow believe they have a permanent residence, that is however NOT true.Truth be told there should not be a "Police Department/Force" operating in the District as this literally falls under the United States Armed Forces sovereign domain. Just the same as we don't have a Police department protecting OR serving any Embassy overseas or abroad. See my point? It's Property of the Federal Government just like Guantanimo Bay.How do you like that public housing? Do you see "A City Of Guantanimo Bay" Police department responding to an armed intruder phone call? See anybody planting their okra on the lawn at the Pentagon? I digress. My point is that if you had lived in the District of Columbia and find yourself unemployed due to the recent elections, then pack your bags and head on back to your home State where you are being Represented by your "One voice one vote" on election day!! Well…maybe this response aint any shorter..my bad!

    6. Barb -mn says:

      This state's constitution just threw an amendment in that clearly benefits SOME. In other words, no equal benefit to all!

      As the government continues to violate it's own position.

    7. Kevin says:

      I concede with my fellow Conservative thinkers. The Constitution strictly prohibits the 10 mile square Federal District from State status, and Senators and Representatives. These foolish people need to quit it with this thinking that DC should have rights of a state. Not realistic!!! Ms. Eleanor Holmes Norton knows this! If you want to have the Rights of a Sovereign state Citizen, then move to one of the 50 states of the Union! Get out of the Federal/Congressional zone. Why do you think that all cases in the District are prosecuted by the U.S Attorney? Or all of the land in D.C is legally titled to the U.S Government, and Congress has exclusive authority over all District affairs? The Mayor and Council are just vicegerents for the U.S Congress. Quit with this Statehood, Home Rule and Representation crap!!! All Senators and Representatives are the District's representatives.

    8. Kevin says:

      Study Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S Constitution and you shall see the District's unique status, as Federal reservation.

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