President Threatens Veto for D.C. Vote Bill

The White House yesterday issued a press release threatening to veto the blatantly unconstitutional bill creating a House seat for the District of Columbia.

There’s a reason it took a Constitutional Amendment to give D.C. three Electoral College votes. Indeed, the Supreme Court had rejected attempts to accomplish that through simple legislation.

Congress passed an Amendment in 1978 to the effect that, “For purposes of representation in the Congress, election of the President and Vice President, and article V of this Constitution, the District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be treated as though it were a State.” It failed to win ratification by the state legislatures. That’s not surprising; treating a city as if it were a state is to the advantage of no state.

While the District was never intended to become it major population center, it nonetheless became just that. A generation ago, it’s population exceeded that of thirteen states; now, only Wyoming is smaller. Residents have all of the obligations of citizenship and are denied federal representation. That’s obviously a problem.

The solution, however, is neither unconstitutional legislation nor creation of a new state the geographic size of an average county. Retrocession of residential D.C. to Maryland is the obvious solution but not the only one.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. B. Minich says:

    Ahhh, but Maryland will never stand for such a retrosession, at least as long as Baltimore has ANY political power. The last thing Baltimore wants is to be diminished further in importance. Baltimore already resents the fact that the DC suburbs have become a power bloc in Maryland, and that their era of complete dominance in state politics is over – they aren’t going to stand for fully absorbing the District, which I believe is bigger than Baltimore (and if not, would definately put DC and its suburbs as bigger than Baltimore).

    Its the best solution – its just never going to happen.

  2. Triumph says:

    While the District was never intended to become it major population center, it nonetheless became just that.

    james, you’ve made this claim before and it simply doesn’t correspond to facts. Take a look at L’Enfant’s original plan for the city–it has scores of residential districts which wound up serving their purpose.

    Im not sure how you can imply that the District “was never intended” to have residents when this was a working assumption of the original plan.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I guess it depends on the definition of “major.” Sure, it was intended to become a small city. No one expected that it would come to have a population larger than that of some states.

    Indeed, a lot of our Constitutional structure could not have been justified if the Framers had known future population trends. The Electoral College and the Senate, as presently constituted, are absurd on their face.

  4. Billy says:

    Indeed, a lot of our Constitutional structure could not have been justified if the Framers had known future population trends. The Electoral College and the Senate, as presently constituted, are absurd on their face.

    Amen.

  5. I’m not so sure that things like the electoral college wouldn’t have shown up anyway as part of a compromise. Remember, the reason for the EC and senate was because the smaller states wanted a balance to the more numerous large states. Certainly if you want to talk about forming a subset (e.g. Moore’s America consisting of the east and west coast with a bit of the Midwest) you could craft a deal that would nix the EC. But if you tried to put together a system that would get all 50 states to sign up, I suspect at the end of the day you would substantially have the EC back.

    The senate was originally intended to represent the states. The senators were elected by the state legislators (as opposed to popular vote). While I personally think we would be better serve by having the senators elected by tax dollars paid (1 vote per tax dollar paid, 1 vote minimum per voter), such a radical change is not likely. But its nice to dream about a check and balance in the congress between the desire to buy votes with pork and a recognition that the people who foot the bill can vote you out of office if you waste the money.

  6. If Maryland does not want the land back, give it to Virginia, which also provided land to make up DC.

  7. James Joyner says:

    If Maryland does not want the land back, give it to Virginia, which also provided land to make up DC.

    Virginia took its part back in the 1830s. It wouldn’t make much sense geographically or culturally to give the land to VA.

  8. floyd says:

    James; I think Don has the right idea.
    BTW, it doesn’t make much sense at least culturally for Illinois to be stuck with Chicago either!
    D.C.’s population was largely grown by excessive public aide programs; cut the public aide and watch the population drop. Ask Milwaukee!

  9. How about cutting out 25 square miles of Nebraska and reestablishing the District of Columbia there?

  10. davod says:

    How about doing things right by pushing for a constitutional amendment.