Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Right Way to Amend the Constitution, part 16

This is part sixteen of an ongoing series of articles containing proposals for amendments to the Constitution. For someone who claims so fervently to be a “Constitutionalist”, how is it that I can be so eager to change the Constitution? Well, there are several reasons. For one thing, I believe that after the Bill of Rights, much damage was done by some of the amendments that were added and the legitimacy of some of their ratifications are questionable. Secondly, the Constitution has been violated so much that the necessity of further amendments is needed to resolve the resulting problems. But this should be done extremely cautiously. These amendments are extremely unlikely to ever be introduced, much less ratified, but hey, I can dream, can’t I?

The title for this week’s proposed article of amendment (subject to revision) is TheDownsize D.C.” Amendment, the text of which follows:

Section 1: The citizens of the District shall be included among the population of a State in the next Census following the ratification of this article.

Section 2: The twenty-third amendment to this Constitution is hereby repealed.

Section 3: The mayor, city council, and all other legislative and executive offices of power within the city of the constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall be dissolved.

Section 4: The District shall be annexed into the State referred to in section 1, except for needful buildings lawfully under the control of the United States.

Section 5: No Person shall take up permanent residence within the District after the annexation.

Section 6: If this article of amendment is ratified by the State of Maryland, then the State referred to in section 1 shall be Maryland. If this article of amendment is not ratified by the state of Maryland, but is ratified by the State of Virginia, then the State referred to in section 1 shall be Virginia. If this article of amendment is not ratified by either Maryland or Virginia, then this entire article shall be inoperable.

Section 7: Sections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 shall take effect upon completion of the next Census following the ratification of this article.

Section 8: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Commentary on this proposed amendment:

It isn’t right that some citizens of the United States should not be represented in Congress, but Washington D.C. should not have the rights of a state (including having Presidential Electors). One reason for this is because states have the right to secede. If the District seceded, then there would no longer be a Seat of Government. Another reason is that the population of D.C. is now smaller than that of the least populous state (Alaska). They also couldn’t be founded as other states were without a Constitutional amendment because their limited sovereignty (see below) is written into the Constitution.

George Washington made a deal with Alexander Hamilton to expand the size of D.C. so that Washington’s property would be contained in it. In exchange, Hamilton got a Central Bank. This was a bad deal on both ends for Americans.

Most of the Founders never intended that ordinary citizens would take up permanent residence in the District. If they do, they have no constitutional right to self-government (except to vote for 3 Presidential Electors, as stated in the 23rd amendment), but should be governed solely by Congress. Congress cannot properly abdicate their authority to a city government. All of the complaining about the sovereignty of D.C. ignores the Constitution. Article I, section 8, clause 16 makes it clear:

The Congress shall have Power… To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District… the Seat of the Government of the United States

In fact, the only reason why we even need a Constitutional amendment for this is because the 23rd amendment needs to be repealed. The rest of it could just be passed through by Congress and either the state of Maryland or Virginia.

Let’s get the residents of D.C. out of the mess that they’re in and get them into an existing state so that they can have the same rights as all other Americans without ignoring the Constitution or further damaging the Republic. We need to move quickly on this in order to get it done before the 2010 Census.

Click here to read the next article in this series.

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