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Reaction to News of Justice Dept. Fight on Voting Rights

Rep. Gerry E. Connolly (D-Va.), one of three co-sponsors of the D.C. vote bill, said today that the Justice Department opinion, which called the bill unconstitutional, added yet another complication to passage of the measure.

"As you know, this bill unfortunately has gone through the perils of Pauline, and this is the latest peril. But at the end of the day, as you know, Pauline gets saved," he said.

He said that while the legality of the bill could be argued, "there are plenty of jurists and constitutional scholars who come down on the side (that) it is perfectly constitutional for Congress to provide full voting rights to a member of this body for the District of Columbia."

Also, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner said today that the bill was "clearly unconstitutional."

"We certainly hope that the news that the attorney general had to put partisan pressure on Department of Justice lawyers to ignore that fact will give supporters of the bill a moment of pause," said the spokesman, Michael Steel.

D.C. Council members today said they were thankful to have Holder, who may be more sympathetic to District issues, as attorney general.

"Imagine if we didn't have a District resident as attorney general?" asked Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large).

"Clearly, he's following his heart a little bit, but knowing the attorney general the way I do, he's going to follow the law," said Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), chairman of the council's Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) described the report as a wakeup call that in the end, "we could have an extra vote for Utah, no gun regulation for D.C. and no vote for D.C."

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said the vote will ultimately be a legal argument. "I always knew there were two sides to this," he said. "Let's put it to the Supreme Court."

Mary Beth Sheridan and Nikita Stewart

By Marcia Davis  |  April 1, 2009; 12:58 PM ET
Categories:  Voting Rights  
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No one who can read the word "SHALL" can claim it would be "perfectly" Constitutional.

Posted by: JakeD | April 3, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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