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  • Morning Bell: The Oath and the District of Columbia

    The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States … No Person shall be a Representative who shall not … when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

    - Article I of the United States Constitution

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.

    - Article VI of the United States Constitution

    For all of its many ambiguities, on the matter of whether the residents of the District of Columbia can vote in the House of Representatives, the United States Constitution is crystal clear: no. In 2000 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia affirmed this truth, writing: “The Constitution does not contemplate that the District may serve as a state for purposes of the apportionment of congressional representatives.” The Supreme Court later affirmed that decision.

    Despite the clarity of the law, Senate leaders have scheduled a vote today on S. 160, which would create two new seats in the House of Representatives and give one of them to the District of Columbia. The new fig leaf the left is using to push this blatantly unconstitutional measure is the argument that Art.1 sec. 8′s grant to Congress to exercise “exclusive Legislation” over the District, gives them the power to grant the District a seat in the House. Heritage fellow Hans von Spakovsky exposes how specious this claim is:

    The Constitution’s provision giving Congress the power to run the affairs of the District of Columbia — the seat of the nation’s capitol — doesn’t wipe out other parts of the document. Congress could not, for example, restrict the First Amendment rights of District residents.

    Furthermore, the very same section of the Constitution also applies to “Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards” and other federal properties. But it would be ridiculous to assert, on the basis of that text, that Congress has the power to award House seats to an army base, federal office building, or Navy pier.

    Conservatives are not alone in pointing out what a blatant violation of the Constitution S. 160 would be. Liberal constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley writes:

    It would be ridiculous to suggest that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention or ratification conventions would have worked out such specific and exacting rules for the composition of Congress, only to give the majority of Congress the right to create a new form of voting members from federal enclaves like the District. It would have constituted the realization of the worst fears for many delegates, particularly Anti-Federalists, to have an open-ended ability of the majority to manipulate the rolls of Congress and to use areas under the exclusive control of the federal government as the source for new voting members.

    Some Senators appear to believe they can in good conscience vote for explicitly unconstitutional legislation if they include a provision in the bill that allows a Member of Congress to challenge the law in court. But such a provision would only clear statutory standing. Any plaintiff would also have to muster constitutional standing and as Heritage scholars Andrew Grossman and Nathaniel Ward detail, Congress has the power to play political games with voting in the House to prevent such a suit from ever happening.

    Members of Congress take an oath to defend the Constitution. This makes them duty bound to oppose any legislation that is unconstitutional. It would be black eye on the entire Congress if they chose political expediency over their solemn promise to the American people.

    Quick Hits:

    • Just as he begins to dole out a record $787 billion deficit spending economic stimulus package, President Barack Obama said Monday, “We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences.
    • The House leadership rolled out a new $410 billion spending bill that adds another $20.5 billion over 2008 spending levels.
    • The House spending bill also includes $3.8 billion worth of funding for Congressional pet projects that President Obama has pledged to trim from future budgets.
    • The Obama Administration changed the terms of its emergency aid to troubled financial firms to set the stage for the government nationalizing some of the country’s largest banks.
    • The number of illegal immigrants in the USA fell for the first time in at least four years, as the nation’s tough economy discouraged people from sneaking into the USA.
    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    35 Responses to Morning Bell: The Oath and the District of Columbia

    1. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      The Representatives of the Left will still try to "adjust" the Constitution. They will get around this because they will spout how the Constitution is a "living, breathing document" when in fact it is not. But because the Left is in power, they will continue to shred our beloved Constitution to suit their needs. Oaths mean nothing to the Left as they break them all the time and the do this without ever having to answer for them. But they will call you in front of their investigative committee and accuse you of everything under the sun!

    2. citizenw says:

      Founder George Mason said, "No free government, or the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people, but by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."

      James Madison said "The people were in fact, the fountain of all power, and by resorting to them, all difficulties were got over. They could alter constitutions as they pleased. It was a principle in the Bills of rights, that first principles might be resorted to."

      Our Constitution is a document written in an attempt to "form a more perfect Union". One of the basic, bedrock fundamental principles upon which democracy and its variations (such as a democratic republic) are based is "Consent of the Governed". Consent is determined by majority consensus, with special protections afforded to the rights of minorities. One of the most basic implications of this approach is that "the people" consist of ALL of the people. If a minority of the people are excluded from even participating in the process of decisionmaking by the majority, that exclusion tends to erode the legitimacy of the entire system.

      Such is the situation of the long-suffering residents of the District of Columbia. Excluded from participation in the national decisionmaking process nearly from the begining of the Republic by the tyranny of the majority (those living in the fifty states), their exclusion (along with the now-corrected one-time exclusion of blacks, women, and young adults under the age of 21) has tended to erode the legitimacy of the rule of law, under self-evident, bedrock, fundamental democratic principles such as Consent of the Governed.

      Consent of the Governed has not been afforded denizens of the District since 1801. The current Constitution is hardly even their Constitution today, since they have not been afforded an opportunity to participate in decisionmaking that resulted in Amendments 12 through 27 (since 1801). The Courts, likewise, are hardly even their courts, since they have not had representatives with an opportunity to participate in decisions (advise and consent) regarding their staffing and operation, since 1801. Finally, the Congress is hardly even their Congress, since they have had no vote, and precious little voice, in either chamber, since 1801.

      The denizens of DC, as part of the original thirteen colonies, are unrebuttably the same posterity, the same progeny, as those currently residing in the fifty states, for whom, as an indivisible Nation, the Founders pledged their "Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor" to secure Liberty. Of that there can be no argument. Other territories (Puerto Rico, Pacific Islands, etc have a more tenuous claim on that position).

      The Declaratory Act of 1766 was an attempt by the British nation to arrogate to itself an Absolute Power over an unrepresented minority "in all cases whatsoever". Similarly, the District Clause attempts to arrogate to the American nation Absolute Power over an unrepresented minority "in all cases whatsoever". Both cases are highly rebuttable, since both seek tyrannical Absolute Power by the majority (and we know what Absolute Power does) over an unrepresented minority. The bedrock principle of "Consent of the Governed" is violated by such unwarranted assertions.

      "VI. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in Assembly, ought to be free; and that all men having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented for the public good."

      Virginia Declaration of Rights, June, 1776

      Continued, persistent violation of this fundamental, bedrock, first principle of modern democratic government undermines and erodes the very legitimacy of the rule of government over those excluded from participation in our representative, democratic, republican system of government. The nation must address this deficiency in our Constitution, with the goal of forming a More Perfect Union.

    3. Marcotta Miller, Gre says:

      It is quite obvious that now that Obama is in office, we no longer have the system of checks and balances afforded by the constitution. Obama et.al. are doing whatever they want and getting away with it thus far.

      The Constitution is the law of the land and can't be changed on a whim. Obama is trying to change Contract law and now is messing with legislative apportionment.

      I am thankful for Conservative websites and radio, such as Limbaugh and Hannity, as I would never know what the heck Obama is up to.

      I always thought I was a democrat, but now I know I am a conservative and why I am a conservative, I hate socialism!

      Keep me informed!

    4. Andrew, DC says:

      If DC citizens should not get Congressional representation, then they should be allowed to vote in whatever district and state they choose, lest they be second class or perhaps 2/5 citizens of the United States of America. I wonder if the District demographic were predominantly affluent Republican there would be more interest in allowing representation, or at least consideration for inclusive democracy through an alternative voting arrangement for all district inhabitants?

    5. Danny Fla says:

      Dear Morning Bell: The Name America- is not just another name, it is a Country built on real values. As an American, it is not something i had to go looking for. I could actually feel it-sometimes in my throat, but alway's in my Heart.It is not just any country/or land paid for in blood-there is no-place on Earth that is eyed upon in envy.There has alway's been plenty of space upon the Earth, But much like our roots/ others also have to fight to preserve themselves.

    6. Gilbert Zimmerman, J says:

      Chris Dodd remains the Senate Banking Committee Chair. I believe that he is largely discredited, certainly not adding to economic credibility. Be that as it may, there is no reason that he should not be held accountable to his declaration of openness concerning his personal residential mortgage history.

    7. Kent, Virginia says:

      Speaking of the Constitution, has HF taken note of the growing number of suits joining Allan Keyes in demanding Barack Obama allow the release of his complete birth records and Harvard records? If he is Constitutionally qualified to be President, why is he spending millions for lawyers to ensure his records remain sealed? Why does he continue to refuse to release these documents? Why is the media–and HF–ignoring this growing scandal? Must we wait until our country is bankrupt and in dire straits to begin paying attention and asking just where all this deficit spending and government seizure is taking us?

    8. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      I fail to see what is so unsual about this. The Constitution has been disregarded by both the Supreme court and the Congress for years. I was taught that the Supreme court was to interpert the law according to the Constitution, not make laws. Those in charge have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of this land. I guess this oath is not worth the paper it is written on nor the time to swear to it.

      As much as we do not want to beleive it we have elected people that have their on agenda and welfare at heart. We the people do not count when the money is at stake. Hve you ever seen a "common man" get elected to one of these offices??? You have be very rich and connected to get elected, then you are in debt to those that backed you.It sure seems like a heck of a way to run a railroad.

    9. Bill, Little Rock AR says:

      "Members of Congress take an oath to defend the Constitution. This makes them duty bound to oppose any legislation that is unconstitutional. It would be a black eye on the entire Congress if they chose political expediency over their solemn promise to the American people."

      Members of Congress do not carry about their oath — else we would not be in the shape we are in!

    10. Phil, NC says:

      Those persons supporting S160 are nothing more than closet commies set on destroying this country.

    11. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      There appears to be a flood of "political expediency" now that the Demagogic Party took control of congress and the White House. Maybe they can push for Supreme Court judicial term limits. Oops! Didn't mean to spill the socialist's beans.

    12. Suzanne, Texas says:

      My major concern these days is not the economy or whether the D.C. citizens can vote or not. I am frightened stupid by the real, near probability that Texas will soon be invaded en mass by Mexican nationals. We even have some legislators (unsuprisingly, Mexican)who want us to prepare to help the "poor refugees" from the cartels. BULL! They will be HIRED by the cartels! What do people believe the bridge incident was all about? It was about seeing if the peasants would obey orders from the drug cartels. Now they know. Those people have only one loyalty and that is to money.

      To date, Homeland Security has done nothing but try to soothe anxious Texans by saying they are prepared. Where? There are no troops on the borders. The Border Patrol is simply undermanned and hamstrung by political idiots who won't let them shoot. Nobama is unconcerned, mainly because he wants us to be invaded. We are simply screwed.

    13. Faith, Pensacola, FL says:

      while Senators represent the states qua states, members of the House of Representatives represent the population. DC should be entitled to a House member, and if necessary we should amend the Constitution to reflect this.

    14. Ardell Nagle , Rexbu says:

      We as the people of these United States, have to follow the rules of constitution, so should our elected officials. This is not known as Obama land, I am not impressed. I don't beleive the polls of his approval rating. Just look at the stock market, the foreclosures and the unemployment. The more people who lose homes jobs and the ability to provide for their families the more people are going lose faith in the system.

      This is the time for those of us who beleive in themselves and the country that our fore fathers fought for, rise up by our words and deeds. Come together and show those who want trample on the constitution, what really stand for. If a neighbor needs help so be it, that was way I was raised. Not everyone in congress has the anwser to this crisis, it going to take the common man to bring us through this.

    15. John R. Graham, San says:

      The next time Republicans are in power, they need to "retrocede" almost all of DC to Maryland, like Congress did in the early 19th by giving Alexandria back to Virginia. Give back all the residential parts, and just keep the government's ""Crown Jewels" in DC.

    16. Andrew, DC says:

      Wow. I'm scared for our country if the xenophobics here are a representation of the ingrained ignorance of our country. As if checks and balances were prevalent over the last 8 years. Commie and socialist name calling. There was a time when being a Patriot included questioning our leaders; something which many of the people posting never did during the last 8 years but do so now by name calling. Very interesting.

    17. Michael Vega says:

      It seems to me if they get away this what else can they change in the contituation,?? Gun Control etc…rights of the people are at risk in in this country with the Dems in control of the house and senate, they have been waitiing for this for sometime just look at what they did with the Stimulus Package.The are to represent and protect WE THE PEOPLE NOT WE THE CONGRESS….That is why we vote for them WE THE PEOPLE need to make sure most of congress does not get voted back in….

    18. Jeffery L. Price Sal says:

      We the people better wake up and spread the alarm. We Conservatives have been asleep and not believing what we are seeing and hearing with the agenda set by Dumbing down our schools so our history is distorted for the student to make a decision of truth. Too protect our Constitution and Hold those who have taken Oaths to protect our way of life.

    19. Marvin Clark Sparks says:

      Has it ocurred to anyone that every elected official, the entire military, every judge and many appointees have sworn a sacred oath to uphold and defend the constitution agains all enemies, foriegn and domestic? Will it ever be possible to re-establish the intent that each of the three arms of government is supposed to act as a check against misbehavior of the others, instead of being in collusion to rape our system of government?

    20. Tony Hollick, Bristo says:

      What is this stuff about Barack Obama's "birth records"?? Is it asserted that he _wasn't_ born in Hawaii in 1961 when Hawaii was already a State?

      "In March 1959, both houses of Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law. (The act excluded Palmyra Atoll, part of the Kingdom and Territory of Hawaii, from the new state.) On June 27 of that year, a referendum was held asking residents of Hawaii to vote on accepting the statehood bill. Hawaii voted at a ratio of 17 to 1 to accept. There has been criticism, however, of the Statehood plebiscite, because the only choices were to accept the Act or to remain a territory, without addressing the issues of legality surrounding the overthrow.[30][31][32] Despite the criticism, the United Nations decolonization committee later removed Hawaii from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories."

      Will someone please elucidate?

      Tony Hollick

    21. Marcotta Miller, Greeneville, TN says:

      It is quite obvious that now that King Obama is in office, we no longer have the system of checks and balances afforded by the constitution. Obama et.al. are doing whatever they want and getting away with it thus far.
      The Constitution is the law of the land and can’t be changed on a whim. Obama is trying to change Contract law and now is messing with legislative apportionment.
      I am thankful for Conservative websites and radio, such as Limbaugh and Hannity, as I would never know what the heck our King is up to.
      I always thought I was a democrat, but now I know I am a conservative and why I am a conservative, I hate socialism!
      Keep me informed!

    22. Dave says:

      So,

      Which of you ardent constutional supporters are going to tke these boobs to court; not to challange their right to ignore the constitution, rather, to instigate a sanity hearing to determie fitness to serve?

    23. Linda Alicea, Lexing says:

      How can Obama be ANYBODY's president if he wasn't BORN in this country and isn't even a CITIZEN? The citizens of this GREAT COUNTRY should UNITE and DEMAND his BIRTH CIRTIFICATE or his RESIGNATION. This country is to respected to be lead by a Muslim Extremist!

    24. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Citizenw's posting above suggests that we are perpetrating tyranny on the DC residents by denying them representation.

      You can remedy it through Constitutional means. It means that an amendment to the Constitution as required by it can be started. What the Congress is trying to do it is illegal. Those that vote for it must be prosecuted for violating their oath of office.

      Congressmen that vote for it because the bill contains a provision to test the Constitutionality is taking a ridiculous position. What has happened to their judgment about Constitutionality of the bill? Haven't they read the Constitution? Or, is it just like voting for a stimulus bill to spend $787B of tax payers' money without reading it and knowing what it contains?

      We must clean house in DC by getting rid of the corrupt and inept political hacks. They are turning this country into a banana republic.

    25. Sharon, Missouri says:

      So is there not anything we conservatives can do about this runaway spending spree that Obama is doing and toying with the constitution. What are we the people going to do?? We all know he is taking the road to socialism. We all will be taxed so heavy we won't be able to live.

    26. John Rosina, Bordent says:

      Do the legitimate year round taxpaying residents of DC deserve representation? If the District is solely meant as a type of "Fort" where only Federal Reps are meant to meet and pursue the countries governance, then we should perhaps not allow resident citizens to live there without being registered residents of some other state.

      I do recall that taxation without representation was a major battle cry of the Revolutionary War. Who among us now feels that is a bogus gripe for a large population of citizens residing in this Constitutional Democracy and exactly why? Does Constitutional Language trump on the ground reality of the 21st century?

      I am very in favor of all receiving representative government in America. Maybe we got it wrong all those years ago with special DC Status????? I have no legal answer – just a moral inkling, on this one! Good but perplexing article.

      But ….Hans von Spakovsky???? WOW! All rightee then!

    27. Melissa - former DC says:

      Before I moved to DC I was like all other conservatives and thought that the DC statehood issue was overblown. Then I was forced to change my vehicle registration, pay "state" taxes, revoke my PA voting rights, all without any real representation in Congress. When the Constitution was written the delegates from every state rode in, stayed in hotels or with neighbors and rode out. Almost nobody lived in DC. Now with the expansion of the federal bureaucracy, hundreds of thousands of people live in the District because it is close to where they work. Why are they less entitled to same representation the colonists demanded from England? Amend the Constitution to give DC one real representative. We amended the Constitution to give DC 3 electoral votes. Is this so radically different?

    28. michael hutchings says:

      location;THE SEA OF MENDACITY ON THE DECK OF THE SHIP OF STATE;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;I NEED ANOTHER WARSHIP, AXELROD;

      AXELROD;I HAVE ONE IN MIND CAPTAIN;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;CAN WE BE SURE OF THE CREW;

      AXELROD;YOU CAN BE SURE OF THIS CREW SIR;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;IT IS NOT A WARSHIP AXELROD AND WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE ONE BUT WILL IT SERVE;

      AXELROD;IT WILL SERVE AND THE CREW WILL NOT OBJECT TO ANY COURSE WE LAY CAPTAIN;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;LAY IN A COURSE AS FAR FROM WESTERN CIVILZATION AND THE CONSTITUTION AS POSSIBLE;

      AXELROD;WELL DONE CAPTAIN THE CREW IS READY;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;ARE YOU SURE,AXELROD THEY WILL ALL BE POORER AND LESS FREE WHEN WE LAND;

      AXELROD;TO THEM ITS RELATIVE IF EVERY BODY ELSE IS POOR THEY ARE HAPPY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN FREE AND DONT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;THEY ARE WIND UP TOYS AND USEFUL;

      AXELROD;THEY ARE EXPENDABLE IF THEY CATCH ON AND DONT AGREE WITH THE COUP WE PULLED OFF;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;I DONT THINK THEY WILL FIGURE IT OUT AND IF THEY DID WHO ARE THEY TO COMPLAIN;

      AXELROD;THAT IS RIGHT, WE SAILED AWAY FROM THE CONSTITUTION AS FAST AS WE COULD AND THEIR MEMORIES OF BEING PROTECTED BY IT WILL FADE;

      CAPTAIN OBAMA;GOOD THIS CONCEPT OF BEING LESS THAN A PIECE OF PAPER WRITTEN BY FARMERS IS AN INSULT TO MY POSITION AS LEADER OF THE WORLD;

      AXELROD;CAPTAIN OBAMA,YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW INSULTING IT IS TO THE FOUNDERS THAT YOU WON;

      CAPTAI OBAMA;THANK YOU AXELROD THAT IS MY INTENT;

    29. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      Hey! This is yet another example of how we must remember that, to such as the Democrat government elitist Left now controlling Congress and the White House, it's all about grabbing as much money and power as possible, no matter what they have to do to get it.

      This includes their playing "semantics (which certain lawyers and lawyers-turned-politicians are both infamous for and infamously adept at playing)", with the Constitution, even in order to violate it yet again (in addition to their other schemes to do so, such as their so-called "Fairness Doctrine" for government control of speech and of the press), and "lay it on thick" with their Bovine Scatology for cover, no matter how patently rediculous or specious, to try to get away with their Leftist government elitist money and power-grabs.

    30. Jim Ford, Lincoln, N says:

      Don't the residents of D.C have 435 Representatives and 100 Senators looking after them? I realize the residents don't vote for all those peopled, but they are the beneficiaries. Amending the Constitution is the only way to get a direct representative!

    31. chris broe SC says:

      We have to be careful here, as conservatives not to squander credibility for throw away slogans and hysterics. It seems we're all talking at once. Lets choose our battles. Some really big gaffs are dead ahead for Obama, and we should pace ourselves till then.

    32. Doc Severs Redondo says:

      No military power on the face of this earth, will be able to stop the people from taking back their government once the line has been crossed by those in power, removing their freedoms and enslaving them once again. History has proven over and over again that the blood of those demonic dictators, consumed and drunk with power wishing to violate and dominate those they govern will flow like a raging river, until every last one of them no longer exist among the living.Thomas Jefferson said it himself, that free people will always have to shed blood to keep and remain free.Obviously those in Washington DC are completely oblivious to these facts.

    33. Pingback: Morning Bell: The Durbin Doctrine’s Assault on Free Speech | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    34. JG, USA says:

      citizenw, your entire argument is flawed because you ignore the Constitution. DC is not a state it is part of the state of Maryland. The citizens in DC have representation by the representatives from Maryland. Also this country was not established as a democracy it was established as a Republic. The Constitution also does not allow a new state within a state.

    35. JG, USA says:

      John Rosina, Bordentown, NJ

      The United States is NOT a Constitutional Democracy!

      It is a Republic!

    36. JG, USA says:

      Sharon, Missouri

      He is not "toying" with it. He is very deliberately destroying it. Obama, like ALL(that is Democrat and Republican) the politicians are guilty of treason. Read what the legal meaning is for "natural born citizen". They don't care what we the people say. They only care what the global bank says. Any one that follows the flow of money can see exactly what is happening and will be able to figure out what is in the very near future.

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