George Will has a column in today’s Washington Post about the bill making it’s way through Congress to give the District of Columbia a vote in Congress which I wrote about last week. As only he can, Will deftly points out the real motivation behind this bill, and it has nothing to do with voting rights:
If Congress’s “exclusive legislation” power concerning the District can trump one constitutional provision, it can trump any provision: Congress could establish a religion, stifle free speech or authorize unreasonable searches and seizures in Washington. And if Congress’s power over the District allows it to award full House representation, why could it not also award two Senate seats? Today’s Congress is pressing House representation for the District partly because of that predictable next step: The District would be a reliable source of two Democratic senators.
If majorities in both houses of today’s Congress want the fewer than 600,000 District residents to be fully represented, they can accomplish that with legislation shrinking the city to the core containing the major federal buildings and monuments, and giving the rest back to Maryland. Democrats are uninterested in that because it would not serve their primary objective of increasing their Senate seats.
So the next time you hear Steny Hoyer or some other member of the leadership talking about how this is all about voting rights, ask them why they feel like they have to violate the Constitution in order to give someone voting representation in Congress.