Politics, The Constitution, And Voting Rights For D.C.

There is a small, but increasingly vocal, group of Republicans who have spoken out in favor of the bill currently pending before the Senate that would give the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the chief sponsors of the bill in the House was a Republican, Tom Davis of Virginia, and 22 of his fellow Republicans voted with him. In the Senate, Orrin Hatch, and apparently his collegue from Utah Robert Bennett, have announced support for the Senate version of the bill.

And, now, apparently, Jack Kemp is prowling the halls of Congress arguing in favor of the bill:

Several Republicans who have switched sides on D.C. voting rights in recent weeks said that Kemp persuaded them to focus on this as the premier civil rights question of the day.

“I would like someday for African Americans to feel more at home in the Republican Party than they have in the past 70 years,” said Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. “I cannot believe the Founders intended to deny 550,000 Americans representation.”

They didn’t. Frankly, they never really intended for the Federal City to become a major metropolitan area to begin with. Certainly, outside of the so-called Federal Core in downtown D.C., most of the city is engaged in business that has little to do with actually running (as opposed to influencing) the Federal Government. That’s why retrocession of the non-Federal parts of the city to Maryland is what ultimiately makes the most sense.

What the Founders certaintly didn’t intend, though, is for legislators to ignore the Constitution, which is exactly what Kemp and Davis are asking them to do:

Kemp points to Republican opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as the moment when his party lost the bulk of its black support, and he warns against a repeat performance. “Members say, ‘Well, black people in L.A. don’t care about this,’ ” Kemp says of his conversations with lawmakers. “Let me tell you, African Americans know that Washington, D.C., is a majority-black city with an African American mayor. This is one of the last chances the Republicans have to be a truly national party.”

Jack, you’ve been preaching this gospel for almost 30 years now. And yet every single good idea you had, from tax cuts to enterprise zones, was shot down by the Democratic Party. Why, then, are you playing into their hands now ? Do you really think that giving D.C. a vote in Congress is going to attract more African-Americans to the Republican Party ? If you do, you’re kidding yourself.

For the many Republicans who still believe that the Constitution poses an impassable barrier, Davis has one plea: Let the courts decide. And he has a delicious tool of persuasion, a strongly argued brief in favor of the constitutionality of a D.C. vote written by former special prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr and law professor Viet D. Dinh, who helped write the USA Patriot Act. Both are conservative scholars who draw deep respect from Republicans.

“I talk to members of Congress about this and they literally walk away, saying the bill is unconstitutional. Unconstitutional? They voted for the Patriot Act!” Kemp says. “A presidential veto on this would consign the Republican Party in perpetuity to 8 to 10 percent of the black vote.”

So for the sake of a few votes, Jack Kemp is willing to sacrifice the Constitution and convince legislators to vote for something they know to be unconstitutional. It makes one wonder just what kind of Republican Party will be left when he’s done.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin


    The Republican Party is fucked in 2008 (more on this probably tonight), but not because of the DC voting scam.

  • trumpetbob15

    The idea that the Republicans would somehow gain from this is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Who would give them credit? Certainly not the media and for sure the Democrats would be out in force saying it was their idea. Kemp should start looking at ways of picking up votes by going back to conservative principles or even better, libertarian ones.

  • Christina

    It must be a Democrat using words like Fu**ed. I’m doing research for a school project and can’t say how much more upset I’d be had my thirteen year old daughter seen what came from Dougs dirty mouth.

    A Republican

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Is 550,000 people more than the no. white people in the colonies during the revolution?
    My question is why D.C. was allowed to become residential in the first place? All those government facilites in Maryland could be in D.C. Did congress never think black people would want civil rights? Or at one time it was just convienient to keep the Negroes in one place and close enough so they could commute to white homes, federal offices and exlusive hotels and clubs for work? I grant you that you and Brad have offered solutions, but why didn’t any in congress think of think when they allow a non-representative in congress from D.C.? I do think black people are intelligent enough to wait it there were offered other options, so that they could become full citizens.

  • tarran

    It wasn’t some plot to disenfranchise black people – it just didn’t matter back then.

    Up til ~1910, 99% of the population had little to no interaction with the federal Government. There was no income tax. There was no payroll tax. There was no IRS, ATF, no DEA, no FBI, the secret service was very small.

    I suspect that moving in and out of the city was easier too.

    Back then, none of the architects of the U.S. Constitution envisioned that the Federal Government of the United States would become the totalitarian super-state it is now (although their opponents did).

    That is not to argue that there were no conscious, concerted efforts to disenfranchise blacks in the U.S. Such efforts were legion. This just wasn’t one of them.

  • Gunnar

    VRB, your post is a bit offensive and way off track. The residents of DC are FULL citizens, just like the residents of other federal territories. They just don’t live in a state, which is their choice in the case of DC.

    Since everyone who has ever lived in the DC square, moved in with full knowledge of it not being a state, there is NO denial of civil rights. The land in question went directly from being George Washington’s property to being owned by the federal government.

    That said, the solution is simple: similar to the way the left half of the square was ceded to Virginia, Maryland should accept the right half. Then, DC itself would be restricted to the very small area housing the federal government.

  • Harry

    When we start giving special rights to individual groups, no matter who they are or for what ever reason than we are we asking for realllly big problems.

    The gay community has survide all these years, why all of a sudden must they have special rights. The next thing you know every every one will want special rights, the English language, our freedom of religion, freedom of the press and all the things our fore fathers fought and died for will be a thing of the past.
    The liberal’s and the politicians are selling tge American way of life slowly away every day simply because of a vote.
    They can not survive on their efficency, merit and honesty alone.

    Americans wake up, and wake up fast or you will not be Americans much longer.


  • David T

    The District came to exist when Maryland and Virginia agreed to cede swampland so that the federal government would have a place to exist.

    There was never any plan to ‘congregate black people’ in a single city or equally inane idea.

    If Republicans would like blacks to feel more at home in their party as Rep. Pence says, it would behoove them to pay attention to matters that affect blacks. Understanding and listening to the black community would be a first step; making DC a state isn’t the right way.

    As to the District becoming a state – say it ain’t so, Joe. I’m already overwhelmed thinking of all the new flags we’ll have to make.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/11/22/comrades-i-hereby-declare-the-revolution/ Adam Selene


    It must be a Democrat using words like Fu**ed.

    Nope, the person who said it is a Libertarian.

    I’m doing research for a school project and can’t say how much more upset I’d be had my thirteen year old daughter seen what came from Dougs dirty mouth.

    Doug didn’t say it, a commenter did, named Kevin.

    Your daughter has undoubtedly heard, read and spoken that word (and many others that would horrify you) already. Get over it.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/11/22/comrades-i-hereby-declare-the-revolution/ Adam Selene

    VRB, are you serious?

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Yes, I think most people underestimate black people. I would bet there has been no coherent argument given where black people would even see it. Or if it has, it may be so intellectualize, which immediately translates that “I’m better than you” and its gets lost. If you are speaking about the rest they were all questions, which you answered with “are you serious?”

    Just what do you think the role of black people were. Why did they migrate there? When they did, it didn’t matter if it was a state, because most of them could not vote where they came from. I guess the Feds inherited Washington’s slave’s descendants. The descendants of those from the last northern migration, just may want more.

    Do I have to use emoticons to impart sarcasm?

    I guess the founders wanted special rights too. Wanting representation in congress is for very special groups.

    550,000 people sell their houses and move where!!!

    There is one thing I want to know. how come some contributers post, but seldom respond to comments, even when directed to them. Does it take someone else to explain what they meant?

  • Ted


    Do I have to use emoticons to impart sarcasm?

    I do, or sorts. I use /Sarcasm.

    I find it works, and there is less misunderstanding.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    How did the written word ever have understanding, before the internet?

  • Ted


    I am not saying that you have to use something like that, merely that I do. It does help to define ones emotive stance.

    But, I will also beg you remember that many books have sections that people do not understand fully due to a lack of emotive assertation. Also, if you tend to look at letters, books, and such, in history, you often find that people took more time and thought in crafting what they wished to say, and how they wished to say it.

    The internet has provided us with a dash and comment lifestyle, and a lot of it is misunderstood. People make snide comments as a rule, it seems, and misunderstanding abounds. People tend to think the worst, or fail to understand the context of the writing.

    Anyway, I am just saying. Use it or not. If you take the time to carefully construct a phrase in such a way that it can rarely be misinterpreted, then by all means, bravo. If not, and you fail to use an emotive qualifier, you have to deal with the fact that people may not recognize your intent.

    P.S. I recognize your comment may have been made with sarcastic intent, but I felt it best to answer as it were not.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany


    You did address me in your comment… I’ve actually been very busy lately (moving from GA to CA in a few days), so I haven’t been around much…

    But you said I’ve offered a potential solution in your comment. I don’t believe I’ve done any such thing, but here are my two potential solutions.

    1: The preferred solution

    Fire all those damn bastards in DC (I’m referring to the Feds, not the residents) and take away their power. Then nobody will care whether those folks are represented in Congress, because Congress will cease to have any relevance in our lives.

    Of course, that won’t happen, so we go to the second solution…

    2: The compromise solution

    Amend the Constitution. The Constitution does not give DC any voting rights in Congress, because it’s not a State. In fact, Amendment 23 clearly gives them a right to have their votes count for President, and it was clear even back in 1961 that they would need to amend the Constitution to grant this power to the residents of DC. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t have to amend the Constitution to give them Congressional representation either.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Brad, I thought I remembered solution no.2 from another of your post.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    I don’t think I’ve actually posted on the topic, but I might have commented on one of Doug’s posts…