25 February, 2009

Congressional Representation for D.C.

I think that the founding fathers were right to not allow D.C. to have a representative in Congress, but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.

What I’m not willing to be persuaded about is whether there should be a bill passed to allow them that.


It would require a Constitutional Amendment.

CNS News, which can normally be counted on for reliability, drops the ball on this one.

The bill advances a controversial item on the agenda of congressional Democrats, but which many Republicans say is unconstitutional.

Am I the only one who remembers grade school civics class? It doesn’t take being a Republican to recognize the constitutional problems faced by this bill. Any sixth grader ought to be able to help our Democratic friends.

From Article I of the Constitution:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Number

but each State shall have at Least one Representative

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;


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

Clearly, Article I establishes that states and states alone have Representatives and that only states can elect them. It also, just as clearly points out that the seat of government is formed by ceding of land by states and is not a state itself, but a District.

You want to give residents of D.C. representation? Fine. But the only legal way to do it is through a Constitutional Amendment. Any law passed that attempts to do such a thing is a farce.


  1. Chris, Washington D.C. already has a representative in the House of Representatives. She has no voting power but she is allowed to speak. The Democrats are pushing to get her full voting rights and then they would like to try to get equal representation in the House. Also, there is talk once they achieve this they will ask for Senators. Here is a link to her website http://www.norton.house.gov/


  2. Roy,
    I'm aware of that, but I think that this successfully skirts Article I. There's nothing in Article I that says that the House can't have as many non-voting members as it wants. For all practical purposes, she's just a guest of the House on an indefinite stay.

  3. In practice, the only Constitutional way to give voting rights to DC in the House or Senate would be to have DC achieve statehood.

    That may or may not require a constitutional amendment, and seems like a better bet for the proponents, because the current method certainly would.

    While Article I clearly states that the seat of the government is to be established as a district, there's nothing in it that I see that prohibits the district from becoming a state in the future.