Gun Amendment tacked to DC voting rights bill again

Only this time, unlike the last, it has the support of DC’s neutered representative.

Members of Congress could as early as next week vote on a bill that would give D.C. a voting member of Congress, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.

D.C.’s nonvoting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, also said the vote could come next week.

The Senate passed a bill granting D.C. a vote more than a year ago, but senators added a gun amendment that would repeal strict gun registration requirements in the city and restrictions on semiautomatic weapons. The bill then stalled without a vote in the House.

Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said that the bill lawmakers are working on still includes some version of that amendment.

But the time for voting rights is now, Norton said.

I would actually support the concept of representation in congress for DC’s population, except for one small, minor detail:

US Constitution, Article 1, Section 2:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen. [Bold Added]

For those keeping score at home, the District of Columbia is not, in fact, a State.  Therefore, it is not within the power of Congress to just arbitrarily declare the representative from DC to have a vote.

Can you say “unconstitutional?”  Sure you can.

Now, I’m not very supportive of taxation without representation and all that.  I am, in fact, very sympathetic to the position of residents of DC re: representation in Congress…but there is a proper, Constitutional method to address the issue.

The same route taken to empower DC residents to cast electoral votes in Presidential elections.  The route outlined in Article 5 of the US Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Of course, a minor detail like a proposed law being unconstitutional has never stopped those who would deem themselves our rulers from passing it, so I don’t suspect they will find such a mundane thing a deterrent in this case either.

When one of the parties to a contract can just ignore it at will without consequence, the contract is meaningless.  For those who claim the US will never sink into tyranny, I hate to break it to you, but it already has.

The tyranny may be “soft” at this point in that they haven’t started rounding up the dissidents and shipping us off to re-education camps, but such soft tyranny is no less real than more forceful forms and it is a very short trip down the slope from one to the other.   All it takes is a catalyst.

5 thoughts on “Gun Amendment tacked to DC voting rights bill again

  1. Curtis, you gotta figure that a court challenge would be a slam dunk on this one. The Constitution is lead pipe certain on this issue.

    I know we've got some wacko judges, but there's not really any room for interpretation here IMHO.

    But, anything could happen, I guess…

  2. The question is, who would the courts recognize as having standing to actually bring the suit? But you're right, it should be a slam-dunk if you can get past the standing issue.

  3. I would think that any US State would have standing, as their representation would be unconstitutionally diminished.

    But, I don't know…

  4. If the writers of the firearms amendment included a legal boilerplate "severability" clause, the gun amendment would remain the law in DC even after the sections regarding the representative were struck down as unconstitutional. Here are my crossed fingers that the writers of the firearms amendment did so, in the sure knowledge that the bill's sponsors won't read the gun amendment.

  5. Anon, that is interesting. It didn't cross my mind that this could be a "set up."

    But then again, a lot of things don't cross my mind…

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