US House vote for DC might be unconstitutional: report

US House vote for DC might be unconstitutional: report

[JURIST] Draft legislation [HR 328 materials] granting the District of Columbia a vote in the US House of Representatives is most likely unconstitutional, according to a report [text, PDF] by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) [LOC backgrounder] made public Monday. Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 of the US Constitution says: "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature." The CRS report concludes that "not only is the District of Columbia not a 'state' for purposes of representation, but …congressional power over the District of Columbia does not represent a sufficient power to grant congressional representation." Although the CRS report is not binding, it is regarded as likely to discourage members of Congress from voting in favor of granting DC a House vote, even though there have been strong voices raised in support of the proposal [DCVote advocacy materials].

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a resolution [H.Res. 78 materials] amending House rules and granting limited voting rights to federal lawmakers from five US nonstate territories, including the District of Columbia, in the Committee of the Whole. In contrast to granting a full House vote to DC, CRS stated that such a procedural change "would be largely symbolic, [and as such] these amendments to the House Rules are likely to pass constitutional muster." The Washington Post has more.