National Review Online’s editorial on the D.C. voting rights debate is a must read:
“The Washington Post described the bill’s passage as D.C.’s ‘biggest legislative victory in its quest for voting rights in nearly three decades.’ Yet it is a hollow triumph, for it is so obviously unconstitutional. The Congressional Research Service said as much in a January report. The fig leaf of an argument made by supporters of the bill is that the Constitution gives Congress exclusive jurisdiction over D.C., and thus gives Congress the power to give it voting representation in Congress. This argument is a classic case of proving too much: May the Congress therefore create a monarchy for D.C.? Obviously not: The grant of exclusive jurisdiction does not permit Congress to do anything that the rest of the Constitution forbids — and the rest of the Constitution clearly forbids it to treat D.C. as a state.
“When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they were concerned about the possibility of a single state’s holding too much influence over the seat of national government. So they created a special federal district, outside the jurisdiction of the states and under the exclusive authority of Congress. Today, the balance of power between the states and the federal government has reversed, with the states more worried about federal encroachments than vice versa. But the words of the Founders remain, and they cannot be disregarded.
“The problems with the current legislation are manifold. If D.C. is not a state but is nevertheless entitled to a seat in the House of Representatives, then what about other federal commonwealths and territories? Are the good people of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also worthy of full congressional representation? If a non-state such as D.C. deserves a seat in the House, then by what principle will it be denied a pair of senators, another privilege reserved by the Constitution for ‘each state’? Moreover, congressional representation should be rooted in the text of the Constitution, not the whims of a majority. What Congress may give, Congress also may take away: If D.C. truly deserves voting rights, then these rights should be placed beyond the ordinary reach of the party in power.”
Read the whole article here.