13 August, 2008

The Candidates and the Twenty-Third Amendment

This is the sixteenth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Twenty-Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I skipped the Twenty-Second Amendment since it sets term limits for the President and Vice President of the United States.

What's the Twenty-Third? Anyone remember? Sadly, even though we're getting to newer and newer amendments (the Twenty-Third was ratified in 1961), they seem to be known by fewer and fewer people.

Well, here's the text:

Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Ahh...giving Washington, D.C. representation in federal elections. As far as I know, there's no movement to limit or to curtail the rights granted by this amendment, and even if there were, I seriously doubt that either Obama or McCain would support such an initiative.

However, there is a movement to expand this amendment. In fact, Barack Obama is a co-sponsor of the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007. McCain opposes such legislation.


Obama: A-. This would be higher if there was more to go on, Senate voting rights, for example, or statehood, or incorporation of D.C. into another state.

McCain: B. I pushed Obama's grade up for supporting the House Voting Rights Act, but it doesn't seem fair to lower McCain's grade, since such an act is an extension to this amendment, and McCain hasn't done anything to limit it. His grade can be higher since he hasn't made any statements in support of the Amendment. Neither has Obama, but it's reasonable to infer such support from his support of the House Voting Rights Act.

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment* F
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B

* Obama's First Amendment grade lowered as documented in this post.

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.


  1. Chris, what about Congressman Bob Barr? He is the Libertarian Party's nominee for President and is completely different from the other two 'status-quo' candidates. No other candidate is as strong on the 2nd Amendment; he's a member of the NRA's Board of Directors and while he was in Congress (1995-2003) he had consistent A+ ratings from the NRA. Montana's Governor, a Democrat, said yesterday that Bob Barr is the BEST choice for 2nd Amendment voters.

    Also, no other candidate is as strongly opposed to government spying on American citizens, warrantless searches, and the like that Bob Barr. It would be well worth your time to give his website a browse! http://www.bobbarr2008.com

  2. Thanks for reading the post and for your comment.


    I have no interest in doing this for any third-party candidates. Not that I'm a supporter of the two-party system, but let's face it. Bob Barr's not going to win. He has far less of a chance than Ross Perot did.

    But, that's not the reason why. The reason is simple. In lots of cases, even with McCain and Obama, it's difficult to find enough detailed information to assign a grade. It would be even harder for other candidates, because there's just not that kind of information out there.

    Since I'm looking at both candidates pretty much from a Libertarian perspective, in general, I would suspect that Barr would have higher grades than either McCain or Obama, and that Nader would have lower ones.