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The D.C. Voting Rights Vote--The District Loses

The roll call on D.C. voting rights in the U.S. Senate just ended--the pro-voting rights side failed to get the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster. The effort to add a member of the House for the District dies by a 57-42 vote, three votes short.

Earlier, in a very brief set of pleas for senators to support the measure, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said: "It's time to end the injustice, it's time to end the national embarrassment."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told his colleagues: "There are decent arguments on each side, though I think our side has been given short shrift on some. There are 600,000 people in the District of Columbia, never contemplated by the Founders of this country, without a right to vote. All we're doing here is deciding whether we're going to allow the debate to happen. We're prepared to accept whatever the Supreme Court decides to do. Because there are 600,000 people without the right to vote for their own representation. I used to be against this," but then "I realized there are 600,000 without the vote."

More later on the big web site....

By Marc Fisher |  September 18, 2007; 2:53 PM ET
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Well,it is a sad day, but the measure was unconstitutional, as we have been telling DC Vote all along. Now concentrate on the constitutional means of representation, such as constitutional amendment, statehood, or agreement by the Maryland legislature to accept retrocession.

Posted by: Vince Treacy | September 18, 2007 3:10 PM

...let them all move to Utah!

DC residents want to have their cake and eat it, too. You want to live in DC, accept the fact that it is not a state and that you don't have voting representation in Congress!

You don't like that, sell your downtown property and move to Md or Va where you will be safer and have better public schools, anyway. And your own government won't thumb its nose at you while it blatantly violates your constitutional rights.

Posted by: cc | September 18, 2007 3:11 PM

If the bill is unconstitutional, then why did the legislature in the years directly after the passage of the Consitution pass just such a bill--granting voting rights. It wasn't struck down, it was recinded, also by legislation.

If the bill is unconstitutional then why does the legislature (and the courts for that matter) interpret the "among the several states" language in the taxing and spending clauses as including the District--allowing the federal government to collect federal taxes from the District, although it is not granted in the Constitution explicitly.

If a law was passed outlawing guns in Virginia, not a single person would argue that all gun owners should just move to Maryland (and therefore that they hadn't lost their 2nd amendment right). Rights are not divided up by state. Rights belong to the people.

Posted by: DC Resident | September 18, 2007 3:16 PM

The tyrants in the U.S. Senate have exposed themselves as such. Now that this distraction is out of the way, let's focus on the real goal: statehood.

Can we see a roll call so we know which Senators hate democracy?

Posted by: Ward 1 Resident | September 18, 2007 3:16 PM

So if we want our Consitutional rights we have to move?? You people are ignorant. Its time to stop paying federal taxes.

"And your own government won't thumb its nose at you while it blatantly violates your constitutional rights."
---So you are admiting we are having our consitutional rights violated but you are fine ok with it?? And how are we exactly getting our cake and eating it?? You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: Rocko | September 18, 2007 3:18 PM

Well, there may be 600K people in the District but most are probably are children, illegal aliens and convicted felons so there's probably only maybe 10,000 people who could actually vote.

Posted by: Stick | September 18, 2007 3:19 PM

cc - I'd argue that the people who need representation the most are those in DC who don't own downtown property and can't afford to pick up and move simply because they're being denied the right to vote. More than 18 percent of DC residents are living in poverty compared to about 13 percent nationally, which may explain why less than 41 percent of DC residents own their homes compared to more than 66 percent nationally (

Posted by: missunderestimated | September 18, 2007 3:20 PM

...let them all move to Utah!

What a butthead!!

I don't want to move to MD or VA and sit in traffic jams and waist gas and get fat and sit around and watch the grass grow.
How about taxation without representation. Have you forgotten.

Posted by: Gws | September 18, 2007 3:21 PM

Weren't people banned from living in D.C. for like 170 years? Then again, why don't 600k people have the right to vote? Something seriously sinister is going on with these peoples Constitutional right to vote. Also, what happens when the population of Puerto Rico or one of our territories reaches the population point and start demanding the right to vote?

I'm a young man so I don't remember when Alaska and Hawaii gained the right of a state. What happens to the country when we aquire a new "state". How much is all this going to cost us? What happens to the voting system within Congress when there are 102 Senators instead of 100? Afterall, how can you give more power to the district senators, then say the senator from Maine. Senator what? You can't gve them rights to the House without giving them rights to the Senate. How can they even have any sway without Senate support?Might not seem like much, but where does that put the Vice President at? I like the office of the V.P., I don't want it diminished in anyway. You old people help a young guy out to understand all this.

Posted by: Fear-N-Loathing | September 18, 2007 3:22 PM

Wow Stick, you give a great voice to the opposition. That was a great comment full of intelligence. I am guessing you live in Woodbridge.

Posted by: Rocko | September 18, 2007 3:23 PM

I believe Puerto Rico has on a number of occasions voted against statehood. They have all the benefits without all those pesky taxes.
And I don't think the dilution argument is very valid considing D.C. has more people that Wyoming or (I believe) Alaska.

Posted by: Rocko | September 18, 2007 3:26 PM

Each of the past advancements in DC voting rights have been through the Congress. I don't think that residents should have to "move to Utah" or bow to other silly assertions to get voting rights that the other 299.5 million residents of the U.S. have. DC voting right have been expanded over the years since 1801 and this is the natural progression. It may take an Amendment to the Constitution, like the others. Or a true Dem majority in the Senate/House.

Posted by: Tim | September 18, 2007 3:41 PM

D.C. can't even take care of its own house. Plus these 600,000 they talk about don't stick around for long. This is a transient federal city that keeps changing as politicians and univeristy students move in and out. Not a very stable voting base. Then again, until we get rid of the garbage we have in this joke of a city government we'll never be taken seriously. I'm glad this failed! This is a great day for constitutional freedom!!

Posted by: Al | September 18, 2007 3:59 PM

If the people of DC want to be represented as a state, then they should ask Congress to return DC to Maryland, whereupon DC would get one or two Congressmen and also the right to vote for Maryland's senators. That would be both fair and constitutional, unlike the current bill.

Posted by: DBL | September 18, 2007 4:02 PM

First, why would you tell families who have generations of roots in DC to move to another state if they don't like not being the victims of taxation without representation? Most of the families in DC are African American. Are their family roots not as important as those whose families have been established for generations in VA or MD or any other state? The arguments that DC is just full of poor people, or illegal immigrants, or criminals, or drug addicts and therefore not people worthy of participating in the electoral process just reeks of racism and classism! Why won't anyone address the real issue, which is that if the residents of DC were primarily white Republicans, they would have full voting rights by now.

Posted by: CAC in Takoma Park | September 18, 2007 4:03 PM

To Al:

Think! What state these days is not transitive these days? Our "joke of a city government" has maintain a 100 million dollar surplus compared to a deficit in Maryland and Virginia. Like any city, we have problems but what city or suburbs doesn't. We are growing and representation should be supported. Please go back to your planet of denial.

Posted by: gws | September 18, 2007 4:10 PM

If you think this current bill is unconsitutional, how is returning D.C. to Maryland any more constitutional?

Maybe we should also make VA give Alexandria back to D.C. since it was ours orginally???

Maybe women shouldn't have the right to vote since the founding fathers didn't include that originally either??

Posted by: Rocko | September 18, 2007 4:11 PM

I would bet many of the republicans in VA would gladly give Alexandria back to DC. It would make the state more conservative. Most of the jobs in VA happen in Tysons, Dulles or Arlington.

Also lets not make this about race. DC always wants to make everything about race when it often has nothing to do with it. Stop hanging out with your crackhead representative Barry. All it has to do with is that its one of, if not the most strongly democrat city in the country. From a pure numbers reason, why would the republican party want to guarantee the democrats got an extra seat in the house every year. The Utah seat is only temporary. No one ever said politics was fair. Also anyone who thinks that the left would voluntarily give a seat to republicans that was basically permanent is really clueless.

Posted by: Jon | September 18, 2007 5:25 PM

When you choose to live in DC you understand that is is not a state, it is a federal district with clear constitutional role. The District is set up one, to make sure that no state have special treatment because it is the seat of government and 2 to give the National government a place to meet in which it is not at the mercy of any state or local government because it is a guest of it host city.

The District is set up to be whole administer by Congressional law and oversight. All the measure granting the people living in that state self-government is unconstitutional and should not have stand up to Judicual challenge. The fail measure to grant the District representative in Congress is just another unconstitutional attempt at circumventing the struction of the constitution without amending it.

The people of DC always have representation, in their original state of origin. DC is like any other US operated bases and facility, send an absentee vote to you home state when election come. Democracy is not the constitution. The Democrat can clothed that latest attempt at smearing the constitution in "democracy" but they should not think we are stupid by saying it't constitional.

Posted by: Anh | September 18, 2007 5:28 PM

I would just like to add that from a moral standpoint, DC deserve to vote. From a real world standpoint, I can't see how republicans can get a sweet enough deal to let it happen. Its shooting themselves in the foot and politics and morals virtually never go together. Maybe if the democrats promised a perm extra seat to Alaska, this could work.

Posted by: Jon | September 18, 2007 5:59 PM

"The people of DC always have representation, in their original state of origin. DC is like any other US operated bases and facility, send an absentee vote to you home state when election come."

Um, what? First, for anyone born in DC there is no "original state of origin" outside of the District. Second, for anyone who moves from another state to DC, you cease to become a legal resident of the place from which you moved. When I moved my residence to DC from New York, I was legally required to give up my New York state driver's license and I no longer had the right to vote in that state.

And by the way, if residents of DC are not really citizens of the "several states," then why does someone who is born in DC automatically become a U.S. citizen? Why can they receive a U.S. passport? It is a disgrace that they cannot also have voting representation in Congress.

I would also like to see the roll call on this.

Posted by: arlington | September 18, 2007 6:02 PM

Why would anyone bother to see a roll call? Are you going to threaten to never vote for a Republican for the rest of your life? Ha ha.

Expect multiple Democrat fundraising pitches in the coming weeks. "Dear DC resident, the mean ol Republicans took away your rights, give us more of your money and, uh, we'll try harder next time."

Posted by: athea | September 19, 2007 12:18 AM

Anybody who votes for somebody because they are a Republican or Democrat is an idiot.

How about voting for somebody because of their beliefs and previous actions? Is that too difficult a concept for you? Fine, you are one of the ignorant masses.

I, for one, always do my homework on every candidate I vote for. That means I actually read something besides the WaPo.

Posted by: WooHa | September 19, 2007 8:41 AM

Unconstitutional congressional vote is an invitation to impose a commuter tax. No Way, Jose! If DC wants economic warfare with MD and VA, prepare for a blockade, chumps. We'll see how many potatoes you can grow on the Mall.

Posted by: wtf | September 19, 2007 12:01 PM

If we want voting representation in DC, then District residents need to seize the bridges entering the city, march on Capitol Hill and require the Army to pacify the city. DC soldiers in Iraq or in other branches of the military need to sit down and refuse to fight. The white Republicans in Congress and KKK member Senator Byrd will flee the city. When it gets too costly for the other 50 states, then DC will receive our rights. (AS a DC resident,I too can post statements as dumb and foolish as some of the other garbage I've read on this site today.)
But get real folks. This city will receive voting representation when we seize it or when the city becomes majority white and Marion Barry no longer exists.

Posted by: More Garbage | September 19, 2007 12:31 PM

1. "Taxation without representation" is catchy but obviously a flawed argument, unless you also want to let everyone under 18 who pays taxes vote also.

2. Giving DC residents electoral college votes required a constitutional amendment; getting a representative will as well. If you accept that fact, it will be easier to work towards.

Posted by: kr | September 19, 2007 4:50 PM

Alexandria (now Arlington) was not "originally" part of DC, obviously, considering Virginia predates DC by a couple hundred years or so. It was part of Virginia, became part of DC for awhile, and then was given back to Virginia.

Posted by: kr | September 19, 2007 4:55 PM

A law is NOT unconstitutional until the Supremes rule on it. Until then all this is just plain political racism in the first degree. Are the Republicans that afraid of a positive decision?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 8:25 AM

Open letter to the US Congress:

Dear Senator/Congressperson,

RE: S. 1257

DC is not trampling the US Constitution...
The US Constitution is trampling DC! And has been for over 200 years!

JUST and LEGITIMATE power derives from the CONSENT of the governed. Power exercised without consent (as is the case with the power the US Congress arrogates to itself over DC) is unjust ... and illegitimate!

The US Congress (unfortunately) is not DC's Congress ... DC has been shut out of the Congress, vote-less and voiceless, ... FOR CENTURIES!

The US Courts (unfortunately) aren't DC's Courts ... DC has had no opportunity to consent to either the LAWS or the JUDGES, ... FOR CENTURIES.

The US Constitution (unfortunately) is not really even DC's Constitution ... DC has had no say in the last 16 out of 27 Amendments, ... FOR CENTURIES...

But ... the US IS STILL the DC denizens' COUNTRY ... Washington IS STILL the DC denizens' CITY...
and DC denizens are not going away!

DC denizens want to belong to the United States again, in the sense of being full members of the nation, and in the sense of participating as equals...

DC denizens DO NOT WANT to "belong" to the nation in the CURRENT sense, as chattel property!

Those Elected Officials who do not support the right of American citizens in good standing to vote ... do not deserve to be Elected Officials! If you, Senator/Congressperson, can't support S.1257 or the equivalent, it is INCUMBENT on you as an Elected Official to propose a workable alternative, AND to get it implemented! Or else resign.

DC denizens seek only EQUALITY, ... nothing more. DC denizens will settle only for EQUALITY, ...
nothing less. It is their Inalienable (Innate, Inherent, Intrinsic) Right as American Citizens!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 4:14 PM

this is all wrong

Posted by: lame | September 27, 2007 2:37 PM

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