The Democratically-controlled Congress and President Barack Obama (D) are working to give the people of Washington, D.C. voting representation in Congress. I don’t really disagree with the idea of giving D.C. a representative. In fact, maybe we ought to go a step further and have some form of congressional representation for the people of all U.S. territories—Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, etc. I do believe that U.S. citizens should have a say in their government, even if they don’t happen to live in a state, and it’s a bit of an annoyance to me (as it has been to the people of these territories) that we disenfranchise U.S. citizens.
Having said all that, the U.S. Constitution is clear: the people of the several states, and only the people of the several states, can have voting representation in the United States House of Representatives. States and only states can have Senators. I’m getting really tired of saying it, but we can’t just ignore the Constitution when we don’t like what it says. If we don’t like what it says, we can amend it through one of the two amendment processes that are spelled out in Article 5 of the document itself.
When we wanted to grant the people of Washington, DC, three presidential electors, we passed the Twenty-Third Amendment to make it happen. We didn’t just pass a law and say, “Regardless of what the Constitution says, we’ll do this other thing instead.” That’s why it’s so bizarre to hear politicians rattle on and on under the delusion that they can decide to give D.C. a vote in Congress by simply passing a law. It will never pass the Supreme Court’s constitutional scrutiny. Period.
Almost two years ago, I wrote about three different perfectly-legal ways to get the people of D.C. represented in Congress. How about we do one of those? I vote for option #3, a retrocession of most/all of Washington, D.C. back to Maryland and an appropriate reapportionment and redistricting following the 2010 census. The people who currently live in D.C. would then be represented in the House and Senate by Maryland’s congressional delegation, and would also have a say in the selection of Maryland’s electors in the next presidential election. The end.
As for the other U.S. territories, I would like to see an amendment passed instructing Congress to apportion at least one seat in the House to ‘Other Territories’ (more if the total population of all non-state U.S. territories warrants more by the regular apportionment formulas). In other words, the combined U.S. territories would be treated as a phantom 51st state in the House of Representatives. I would also allot an equal number of electors in the Electoral College to this combined ‘Other Territories’, but they would have no representation in the Senate.