Opinion

Commentary: What's wrong about DC voting rights?

This editorial appeared in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The D.C. House Voting Rights Act under debate in the U.S. Senate violates the Constitution. Period. And any member who votes to approve it violates an oath of office to protect and defend the nation's founding document.

Should the 600,000 residents of the District of Columbia have a voting voice in the Congress? Of course they should; it's only fair. But how they achieve that representation is crucially important.

The very founders who were adamant against the notion of taxation without representation outlined the process by which D.C. residents might achieve that representation – by amending the Constitution, not by passing a law.

Supporters of the act argue not so fast. The Constitution allows Congress special privileges when it comes to overseeing the operation of the federal district set up to serve the needs of the government.

Court cases have established that the district can be treated as a state for purposes of taxation, the protection of its residents' First Amendment rights and access to the courts. But additional court cases show that, in other areas, the district is not synonymous with a state. While the Constitution grants Congress authority to legislate for the District, it does not give Congress the authority to violate other constitutional provisions.

D.C. residents do deserve consideration, but strict constructionists of the Constitution argue that Congress does not have the authority to legislate a voting representative for them.

The problem in the bill doesn't end there. The act includes a provision to add another congressional seat for Utah.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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