(UnitedVoice.com) – Democrats are finding it difficult to get around the US Constitution in the courts. The most recent case involved a ploy by Washington, DC, residents to use the courts instead of Congress to get representation in the House and Senate. On Monday, October 4, the US Supreme Court rejected their claim as DC statehood stalls in Congress. Even if it were to pass, there are serious legal questions about its constitutionality.
The Supreme Court Justices kept their ruling extremely brief. In a four-sentence order, they cited a 2000 case determining Washington, DC, residents have no right to representation in Congress. The reason is simple: They don’t live in a state. Instead, they choose to live in a district created for the explicit purpose of overseeing the federal government.
DC Residents Arguments Fall Flat With the Courts
For decades, DC residents have claimed violation of their equal protection and due process rights. They point out overseas residents have more voting rights than DC residents. It’s a flawed argument for one reason. People who live and work overseas are still residents of a state and the United States. Therefore, they maintain their voting rights.
Democrats claim disenfranchisement of the 700,000 people who live in the district. Yet, those who live in the city do not live in a state. The framers of the US Constitution set it up this way on purpose. DC is the seat of the federal government. The founding fathers never intended for DC to operate or function as a state or for people to establish permanent residence there. Instead, the framers meant it to be a place for elected officials to come, get their work done, and go home.
DC residents don’t seem to understand a few basic, Constitutional facts. First, a state is a sovereign power, and so is the federal government. The two cannot co-exist as one entity. The framers didn’t want a state to blackmail the federal government by refusing to provide for public safety or infrastructure.
Second, Article IV of the US Constitution states the federal government can’t take land from one state and give it to another to create another state. The Constitution created the District of Columbia when Maryland and Virginia gave the land to the federal government. Therefore, the federal government must give the land back to the respective states.
Politics at Play
On April 22, the House passed a DC statehood bill on a 216-208 party-line vote. The GOP argued that the Democrats were seeking to create two new Senate seats that would likely give them a permanent majority in the Senate. It would also create two new House seats. Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans in the Senate to kill the DC statehood proposal.
The likelihood of politicians ever greenlighting DC statehood is slim to none. Every so often, Democrats try to get the courts to hear their appeals, but they just keep failing. Far too often, the Democrats try to use the courts as an extension of the legislative process. For a while, it worked.
During their presidencies, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, aided by Mitch McConnell in the Senate, reshaped the judiciary by appointing a majority of Conservative judges. Trump, in particular, focused hard on reshaping the courts away from a liberal view that the Constitution is a living document toward an originalist one that strictly interprets the Constitution based on its original understandings.
Once again, the Constitution wins. It may sound harsh, but if residents of Washington, DC, don’t like the voting rules, Maryland and Virginia are right next door.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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