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Congress’ legislative power trumps the Constitution – up for vote soon!

February 10, 2009

View complete article here

The D.C. House Voting Rights Act will give the District a full voting member in the House of Representatives. The problem is, or should be, that although the Constitution has provisions that allow various interpretations, the following is not one of those provisions: The House shall be composed of members chosen “by the people of the several states.”

But the District is not a state. It is (as the Constitution says in Article I, Section 8) “the seat of the government of the United States.” That is why, in 1978, the District’s advocates sent to the states a constitutional amendment requiring that “for purposes of representation” the district would be “treated as though it were a state.” Only 16 states ratified it, 22 short of the required number. So the District’s advocates decided that an amendment is unnecessary — a statute will suffice because the Constitution empowers Congress “to exercise exclusive legislation” over the District. They argue that this power can be used to, in effect, amend the Constitution by nullifying Article I, Section 2’s requirement that House members come from “the several states.” This argument, that Congress’ legislative power trumps the Constitution, means that Congress could establish religion, abridge freedom of speech and of the press and abolish the right of peaceful assembly in the District.

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