‘By the People of the Several States’

Earlier today the U.S. Senate cleared a procedural vote that will allow a bill to reach the floor to allow voting representation for the District of Columbia in the United States House of Representatives. That we've reached this point, where the direct words of the Constitution are ignored regarding how composition of the House shall be formed, is nothing less than stunning.

Consider the following, from Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), a man I genuinely admire for his independence and strong support for the protection of Americans from terrorist attacks. During his remarks on the Senate floor this morning, Lieberman noted that citizens of our nation's capital are "the only residents of a democratically ruled national capital in the world who have no say" in how their nation is governed. "It's time to right this injustice," Lieberman said.

I have no problem with Lieberman's sentiment, except that, as articulated above, Article I of the Constitution plainly states: "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states."

Lest you accuse me of being inhumane or indifferent to the lack of voting status for those living in the District, Article I continues by noting that Congress has the ability to "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District ... as may be, by cession of particular states and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States." Even the Constitution prescribes that the District of Columbia itself should be formed from land given to it from states. Ladies and gentlemen, the District of Columbia is not a state and the Constitution provides that the House of Representatives shall be formed by people of the several states.

But here's where I differ with my Republican colleagues: I say, let the bills pass the House and Senate and be presented to President Obama for his signature. Immediately thereafter, a lawsuit would commence and the case would wind itself to the Supreme Court to serve as the ultimate arbiter of this issue.

For too long, Republicans have been castigated as being racist and insensitive and treating the District as the last plantation in America. Republican politicians would be wise to allow these political arguments to fall by the wayside by allowing the disposition of the District of Columbia to be decided by the High Court. The Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution — let us allow it to settle this issue once and for all.