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Thursday, March 29, 2007

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MamaTod

The reason the President would have to veto the legislation is that it is unconsitutional. The Consitution reads in Section 8:
"To exercise EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States," (emphasis mine).

I agree that folks who live in DC should get representation, but it needs to be done through a Constitutional amendment. Congress has no power to change the Constitution simply by disregarding it. Although the process to change it would take a little longer, I think the most Americans would agree whole-heartedly with the result.

MamaTod

Oops, too tired and should have proofread what I wrote. I left out half the story.

The Constitution specifically gives STATES seats in the House and the Senate. It also (as noted above) gives Congress the exclusive right to legislate for the District which is "the seat of Government of the United States". This arrangement means residents of the District are unable to vote for those who legislate them, because the District is not a STATE.

I believe the Founding Fathers never envisioned the Seat of the Government to be a place where people lived permanently, but rather a place of meeting on a regular basis, transacting business, then returning and actually living in their own districts. Obviously, something far different has evolved. Thus there is a need to amend the Constitution and give the people of DC a seat in the House and the ability to vote for their those who legislate them.

scott

MamaTod—

Excellent posts—thank you!

The problem, as I see it, however, is that you're confusing good and legitimate reasons to veto this legislation with why President Bush is actually going to veto it.

This administration has shown over and over again, the past six years, that they care nothing about the Constitution. This is the president who has been quoted as saying, “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face—it’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” Incendiary, but no more so that claiming Congress has no inherent oversight authority, or that he alone has the power to wage war, or that habeas corpus can be shelved indefinitely or that he has the power to search without a warrant or that the Geneva Conventions are "quaint and outdated." This administration finds the Constitution nothing more than a nuisance. This ain't your father's Republican party. This is much closer to Orwell's.

So. If it was just that Bush believed giving American citizens in DC representation was unconstitutional, he'd simply propose a constitutional amendment himself, as he did to ban gay marriage and flag burning. He's done no such thing. Because he doesn't believe it's unconstitutional.

Bush simply believes it would give more than half a million new Democrats a vote. And there's just about nothing more abhorrent to him than that.

Or perhaps I missed when he's proposed doing exactly that. That's possible, I reckon, and if so, I whole-heartedly apologize. One of them many cases where I'd sure love to be wrong.

But—and I mean this—thank you for your outstanding comment. I just wish you were right.

MamaTod

Scott,
If "half a million" Democrat votes are the issue, then why didn't President Clinton, or Carter, or Johnson, et al propose a Constitutional amendment? This problem hasn't developed in just the last 6 or so years.

Actually, it is Congress itself who should be proposing the amendment, as per Article V of the Constitution. Congress is controlled by the Democrats; if Democrat votes are the issue, why aren't they moving for the amendment?

I suspect that if you remove 1) convicted felons who can't vote and 2) those working in DC but maintaing legal residence somewhere else, i.e. military, lobbiests, staffers, etc. from the population of DC there would be far fewer people who could actually vote there. It's not just a big enough blip on our national radar for Congress (or the President) to raise a fuss about. Because the bottom line for many there is "What will raise enough votes for me at home so I can stay in this job for a long, long time?"

I'm glad I stumbled across your post though. All I'd heard of this issue so far was a proposal to "balance" DC's supposed Democratic seat with an extra one for Utah, elected "at-large"....major constitutional issues there. I'd never considered the plight of the actual residents of DC. So thanks for bringing it to my attention.

scott

If "half a million" Democrat votes are the issue, then why didn't President Clinton, or Carter, or Johnson, et al propose a Constitutional amendment? This problem hasn't developed in just the last 6 or so years.

Good question. A couple of responses occur to me right away.

One is that this is something which has been an issue for, well, two hundred years or so, but as you and others have mentioned, it’s become more of an issue as DC’s population has grown. And it’s an issue which has really snowballed in only the past five to ten years, as far as I can tell. No one’s pretending this isn’t a big thing, adding a representative (two with Utah), and big things tend to start slowly and take a lot of time. So I understand that.

As for why the previous Democratic presidents didn’t do anything, well, one is the previous reason. Another is that I’m going to say that, amongst other things, Clinton and Carter were both hamstrung, Clinton by a town full of Republicans who hated him with the sort of burning passion I personally have for parmesan cheese, and Carter by a town full of insiders who disdained him, as well as his own naiveté.

But this is an easy game, in some ways: if Reagan, Bush and Bush really believed abortion was wrong, why didn’t any of them propose a constitutional amendment to ban it? They found the time to do that with gay marriage and flag burning. So do they think the flag more deserving of protection than an unborn child?

Well, okay, trick question: the answer to that is actually yes. But that’s another matter. :)

It's not just a big enough blip on our national radar for Congress (or the President) to raise a fuss about.

Ah, but I would argue that by threatening to use only his second veto EVER, he is making a big deal out of it. Just in the wrong way.

So thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Very much my pleasure. I like to think that Left of the Dial makes the world a little bit better.

It doesn't. But I still like to think it. :)

scott

One other thing to which I should have responded:

I suspect that if you remove 1) convicted felons who can't vote and 2) those working in DC but maintaing legal residence somewhere else, i.e. military, lobbiests, staffers, etc. from the population of DC there would be far fewer people who could actually vote there. It's not just a big enough blip on our national radar for Congress (or the President) to raise a fuss about.

Ah, but even going as conservative as it's remotely possible to go, we're still talking about a minimum of tens of thousands of Americans who don't have a voice in Congress. Tax-paying, law-abiding American citizens who have no representation in our Democracy. And even without going into the fact that that's one of the latest rationales for our occupation of Iraq, that's just wrong.

Tens of thousands of American citizens have no representation. That's not democracy. That's wrong.

MamaTod

Why do you think a Congress held by Democrats is not proposing the Constitutional amendment?

scott

Why do you think a Congress held by Democrats is not proposing the Constitutional amendment?

Perhaps because amending the Constitution is a really quite radical thing to do, and they're waiting to see if the legislation they've proposed will do the job. After all, we've only amended the Constitution 27 times in our history, and since the first ten of those were all done at once, you could argue we've only amended it 18 times altogether. Clearly not something to be done frivolously [flag burning and gay marriage farces notwithstanding]. Not that I'm suggesting this is frivolous, of course, but if legislation does the job, then I'd reckon most people feel that's the way to go, at least first.

Also because they're incredibly busy routing out the stunning amount of corruption that's currently infesting the executive branch. :)

Mike Licht

There actually is a citizen protest similar to the Tea Party underway right now, involving Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, TX-1).

See a summary in the Houston Chronicle at
www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/politics/4676949.html

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