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  • The Constitution is Clear: DC is a Federal City

    The Constitution of the United States of America

    • Congress Doesn’t Have the Authority: Congress lacks the constitutional authority to simply grant the District a voting representative, as the Constitution explicitly limits such representation to states alone. Members of Congress are bound by their oath to reject proposals that violate the Constitution.
    • Article I, Section 2: “Representatives…shall be apportioned among the several States.” The District, as courts and Congress have long agreed, is not a state.
    • Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have power … To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States.” Congress has the same power over “forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings”—and it’s obvious that Congress can’t give a Navy pier or a federal building a seat in the House.
    • The Framers Had a Plan: The Framers’ plan created a “federal town” designed to serve the needs of the federal government, as all Members of Congress would share the responsibility of protecting a city they live and work in.

    Designed to Have Benefits

    • Design: The Framers understood that the lack of a voting representative would be a prominent characteristic of a federal district, and that residency in such a district would be compensated by the attention given to the district by all the members of Congress, who would exercise collective responsibility for the federal district in which they worked and many lived.
    • Benefits: Our Founders’ intent has been realized. In the 19th Century, Congress funded the development of the city. In the 20th Century, it developed the National Mall and beautified the city. The rationale for the special treatment is that it is Congress’s collective responsibility to promote the interests of the city.
    • Today’s Budget: Congress today funds more than 20% of the city’s operating budget and provide substantial funding for local amenities including the subway. In 2005, the city received $5.50 in federal spending for every dollar paid in federal taxes; more than double what any actual state receives.
    • Eleanor Holmes Norton: The District’s delegate boasts on her website that the city will receive greater financial support from the “Stimulus” than many states.

    Constitutional Amendment

    • Constitutional Amendment: Congress cannot alter the Constitution by itself; an amendment, passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and ratified by 38 states, is required.
    • Statehood: While the Constitution grants Congress authority to legislate for the District, this does not grant Congress the authority to violate other provisions of the Constitution. Thus, Congress can no more rely on this authority to add a representative in violation of the Art. I, Sec. 1 requirement that representatives be apportioned to the several “states” than it could rely on the Post Office Clause to ban criticism of the Post Office, which would violate of the First Amendment. Both would be unconstitutional acts.
    • Precedent: Granting the city a voice in presidential elections required an amendment, the 23rd. The last serious attempt to give the District voting representation was in the form of an amendment, which passed Congress but was not ratified by the required number of states.
    • Liberal Scholars Agree: Liberal Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, an advocate of direct congressional representation for DC, says it would be “ridiculous to suggest” that delegates to the Constitutional Convention would have worked out such specific language and rules for Congress “only to give the majority of Congress the right to create a new form of voting members from federal enclaves like the District.”
    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to The Constitution is Clear: DC is a Federal City

    1. JD, Hays KS says:

      Our constitution is a living document, pledged to be defended by the electorate with out question. It would be best to note that our military leaders

      have pledged the same oath. I would submit that a military, that makes such pledges, intends to keep that pledge. Could the Joint Chiefs endure a blatant attack on the Constitution by a misguided

      Congress? If we do not defend our rights, we are no longer a nation to be honored and a great injustice has been done to our men in uniform. They above all should be revered.

    2. Bob4232, Chicago says:

      There can be no question that the author's views are constitutionally correct. However, there is the issue that the Framers never thought that DC would grow to have the social and civic problems that it has today muchless that it's population might feel the need for representation in Congress. I have an idea.

      Since Congress has absolute jurisdiction over the District why not create a "condominium city" by returning the District to the State of Maryland but reserving certain "federal enclaves" within the District while retaing the right to exercise a wider police power when Congress thinks it necessary for protection of the federal government. Congress would guarantee all Distric costs that fall to Maryland.

    3. Dan - Michigan says:

      Just what do you call the CONSTANT attacks on our 2nd Amendment? Members of Congress and the house of Representatives are "BOUND BY THEIR OATH"?? If so, then we should either execute them for TREASON, or at a minimum throw the BUMS OUT OF OFFICE! Maybe a "CLASS ACTION" suit against their coniving antics?

    4. Pingback: DC, the Federal City - representation in Congress is for States, not federal cities « HoodaThunk?

    5. 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.

    6. Pingback: « RockStarKevin

    7. Bill Walker Seattle says:

      Given in 2000 in a federal lawsuit and affirmed again in a separate federal lawsuit in 2004 before the Supreme Court that the courts affirmed under the political question doctrine Congress has the right to veto the Constitution, the arguments of this author fall.

      The lawsuits concerned the obligation of Congress to call an Article V Convention under the terms of Article V. The Constitution demands Congress call a convention if 34 states apply for a convention call. All 50 states have submitted over 700 applications for an Article V Convention call. Congress has ignored all of these.

      The applications can be read at http://www.foavc.org. The lawsuits can be read on the FAQ page, FAQ 9.1.

      Therefore, if Congress was inclined to take whatever action it wanted in the matter, regardless of any constitutional provision to the contrary, the courts have said can do so under the political question doctrine.

    8. Barb -mn says:

      Be careful. Calling the constitution a "living document" has democrats believing it can be changed according to individual cultural livelihoods of the day.

      The constitution stands to be a timeless document. Based on human principles, ethics, freedom, responsibilities etc. As it also points out and should never be changed, that the government works for us, we don't work for them.

      How we are being governed federal and state today directly violates the constitution.

      Never a need to amend unless it is equal benefit to all.

    9. Henry Bowman says:

      This debate reminds me of all the yuppie homeowners who buy a house next door to an airport, landfill, or gun range, then agitate to get it shut down or moved because it causes them inconvenience. It was there before you, fella, you should have thought about that when you bought the house. Same for DC rersidents — unless they are over 200 years old the District was that way (purposely and for good reason) when they moved in, and nothing is holding them there if they don't like it.

    10. C. L. Cox, San Anton says:

      Congress (Dems) would love to have another blue state! They support amnesty for 12 million more votes. The original agreement, if I'm correct, is that if anytime Washinton, D.C. ceases to be the capital, ALL land reverts to Maryland!! Those individuals chose to live in D. C., so they could draw a check every month and never have to get a job! They can leave anytime they want. The real reason for pimping for statehood is to increase Democrats in the House and Senate!

    11. Elbert Kelly, Oceans says:

      Why is Congress allowed to legislate their own income and retirement programs? Then they object to the same programs initiated by private enterprise. The states have referendum privileges for their citizens. Why is their no federal referendum by the people afforded. Many people object to actions of the congress but they have no voice. Example: Congress voted down English as the official language. Legal citizens are required to learn English! Monetary savings?

    12. Steve C says:

      It seems obvious that the ambition of this new government is to dominate policy and politics and that is what is behind this. There is no chance that DC would benefit from this power play – it is what it is – a blatant grab for power and it doesn't matter what wrapper is placed around it.

      When will the people with common sense wake up and do something to stop this nonsense?

      I will never vote to elect any liberal – ever. These people are poisoning our nation in small doses under the guise of taking care of the downtrodden – this is laughable. They don't care one scintilla about the poor or disadvantaged. Wake up folks – it is your vote they are after, and they don't care how many lies they have to tell to get it or what they have to give you to attain the object of their true desire – POWER.

      Once they have you locked in, and believe me that is where this is heading, then the true nature of this Change you can believe in will be revealed. What will be changed is your status – no longer free, but slaves of the state and the elite ruling class. The best part is you will have put the shackles on yourself.

      Freedom in America is on the way to extinction unless the people rise up and take control of their country.

      Take back America.

    13. John R Creech jr - I says:

      D.C. as a state is a bit "ridiculous" when you think about it and all the reasons have been repeatedly stated here. It's a city! If you don't like it, leave.

      All its citizens are more than amply provided for by the congress that resides there. A large percentage of the people working there go home to their respective states at every opportunity.

      They vote on all Federal issues through passing legislation and they vote on their local issues through their visits home. If they voted on everything in D.C. and at home they would effectively have two votes on everything, which obviously is not accorded to the rest of the citizens.

      Everyone with an IQ above 50 realize's; The true reason to complain about D.C. as a state is nothing more than a ploy to get a couple more Democratic "liberal" votes on all legislation. We do not need more "socialism" of which D.C. has in abundance.

      The originators of the constitution were smarter and more patriotic than people in todays United States. It's a sad state of affairs but unfortunately true. We need to get past "me, me, me" and get back to "US, US, US". Legislation was meant to be "what is in the best interest of the majority".

      Anyone who thinks its possible to make "all the people happy, all the time" can pick up a mirror, look into it squarely and "Meet a Fool"!

      If socialism is what you want, move to Cuba!

    14. Pingback: House Representation in D.C. Coming « Justbkuz

    15. Larry in Texas says:

      Well said John R. Creech….As I have stated in another post on this issue-the only folks who should be "living" in the "DISTRICT" are those who have direct employment with the day to day operations of the DISTRICT. When,at such time, their "term" is up or has been satisfied by duely held elections in their respective STATES they should pack up their belongings and head back to the State from which they came, by employment/election, to the Capitol CITY!! Why is that so hard for Senator Leiberman to understand? By the same token, how can Mormon "missionaries" abroad be lumped into the same fold as our Armed Forces embattled overseas when it comes to Congressional representation? He would have us all believe that our soldiers are not accounted for at election time because they are not "physically standing" in the State where they are registered voters, when they absentee vote.A lot like the folks are supposed to be who reside in the "DISTRICT" when they use their "one voice-one vote" in the State where they are "registered" to vote. He needs to put the crack pipe down and just walk away!! Save our Constitution…elect practical minded Patriots instead of Law School Liberals, biggots and fascists.

    16. Antonia Balazs, Wash says:

      Much fanfare here is made of how much money the Federal Government gives the Distrcit. Yet I do not note any menition of the fact that the Federal Government, which owns quite a lot of land in the District does not pay any property tax. Is this looking out for the Districts interests? Clearly there is a conflict of interest … .

    17. Antonia Balazs, Wash says:

      By the way, the US Census Bureau has more poeple living in the District than live in some states – 588,292 people living in the District (this is more than the population of Wyoming). All of us who live in the District are unenfranchized and have taxation without representation. Surely all of us moving is not a viable answer – would you tell everyone in Wyoming to move … ?

    18. crawgator406 says:

      The Distict was never to be lived in it was setup to be a gathering place for the represenatives of the states to meet and discuss thing that need to be addressed for the union as a whole. When the meetings were over the reps. were to return to their constituates with the devised plans to fix the problem brought forth and discussed in the Distict. It just to be a meeting place,not a place to live. the is why they have no representation.

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