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DC Voting Rights Moving With Pro-Gun Amendment

Looks like, much to VPC’s chagrin, Elanor Holmes Norton is conceding to moving the DC Voting Rights bill forward with the language that removes DC’s gun laws and preempts them from making more. The New York Times calls this “extortion.” I call it making them follow the constitution if they want representation. What will be the likely effects of this?

For one, the voting rights language is pretty straightforwardly unconstitutional. It’s hard to see how it’s going to stand up to scrutiny in the Courts. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution only specifies representatives are to be apportioned to states, and the extra Utah representation is clearly a violation of apportionment. In addition, it is a violation of several Warren Court decisions that found the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause prevents some people from having disproportionate representation over other people. It’s hard to see how the actual voting rights bill stands up to constitutional scrutiny.

The gun rights language should be completely severable from the voting rights language. In other words, when the voting rights language is likely invalidated by the Courts, the gun rights language is going to stand. If this passes, and is signed by the President, the “Heller II” case, which just lost at the District Court level, but is appealing, lawsuit will become moot. I don’t consider this a bad thing. We should prefer legislative solutions to unconstitutional laws where we can accomplish that. The Courts are far more risky.

The net effect on this will be that the District of Columbia’s gun laws default to the federal law. To buy a gun you fill out a 4473, and go through the background check. It guts all the assault weapons nonsense out of their law, as well as the licensing, registration, training and ballistic testing requirement. The Districts laws on carrying in public will remain untouched, so the Palmer case, which is being advanced by Alan Gura and SAF will be undisturbed.

I am not too keen on passing an unconstitutional law in order to repeal another unconstitutional law, but in the end I am pragmatic about these things, and believe that this will work out fine for us in the end.

17 Responses to “DC Voting Rights Moving With Pro-Gun Amendment”

  1. Bitter says:

    Plus, it’s totally awesome to see The Brady Campaign Twitter & Facebook accounts begging supporters to oppose action by Eleanor Holmes Norton.

  2. countertop says:

    do you have the actual language? I don’t have time to pull it up (plus Im not in the office)

    Wondring how it impacts me bringing a gun to work (well parking lot of building so I can shoot at lunch)

    Effective date of change.

    Pelosi has blocked all of next week off for debate on this – moving it with a rule that doesn’t allow any amendments.

  3. cargosquid says:

    If DC wants representation, let Congress take back direct rule as it’s supposed to be. Also, since DC residents are promoting that “taxation without representation” silliness, remove income taxes from DC residents. THEN, let’s see how much they want to be a state. Or, just let them vote in Maryland for national elections.

  4. Andy says:

    Even better… kick everyone out of DC. No residents except for one. Everyone commutes.

  5. ParatrooperJJ says:

    How will standing to sue be established?

  6. RAH says:

    This is great. DC has been the most reluctant town to accede to a direct Supreme Ct decision. It is a great idea to take away any ability of DC government to regulate guns.

    However getting Holmes as a voting rep is not a good thing. she is an idiot.

    I like the fact that she recognized that come November the House will change and gun rights are not going to be a loser.

  7. beatbox says:

    I want my guns and my vote!!!!

    (hello from DC)

  8. BEATBOX says:

    Also, the unconstitutionality of the the legislation is not as cut and dry as you frame it. Ken Starr, no less, among other legal types have said that there is an argument to be made. Basically it falls under 1)no vote for residents of Dc is an unintended consequence the founders did not plan for, 2) The Const. grants Congress authority over DC, so they can do what they want, and 3) DC is treated like a state by Congress, so it is sort of a common law state.

    I am not saying these arguments will prevail, just that it is not an automatic no go.

  9. Heckler says:

    “I am not too keen on passing an unconstitutional law in order to repeal another unconstitutional law, but in the end I am pragmatic about these things”

    As someone who’s fought pretty hard to re-establish an oft denied constitutional right I’d be embarrassed to say that.

    The constitution means something or it doesn’t.

    Fail.

  10. Sebastian says:

    You don’t really get clean choices in politics.

  11. Heckler says:

    Unfortunately we have a few Supreme Court justices who seem to think in a similar fashion.

  12. Mike Doyle says:

    I’ll admit that I have a rather perverse take on the matter of voting rights for DC residents. Follow:

    1) The District of Columbia is the seat of government of and for the United States

    2) It therefore follows that everyone who resides in DC is either: a) directly involved in government, either as Civil Service or as a non- Civil Service government employee or government liason (which definition is stretched to include aides, staffers, and lobbyists); and/or b) is indirectly involved in government by providing goods and services to those who are directly involved in government.

    3) Based on past performance and individual self-interest, we cannot trust people who reside in DC to look past their individual self-interest to the adverse effects their votes will have on the rest of us.

    4) Therefore, we probably ought not to allow those who will (as defined above) directly or indirectly benefit from an expansion of government to vote on representatives or issues that will bear on whether government will or will not expand. (Q. V., Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy – http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2mail/mail408.html#TSA)

    QED (see also Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy

  13. Weer'd Beard says:

    Why would the VPC be upset by this? I understand that they are an anti-gun group, but they’re also one of the few FFLs in DC, and it appears they’re in desperate need for cash.

    I see this as a HUGE windfall for them! : ]

    • Bitter says:

      That would also explain why VPC is so concerned that EVCs involved in tea party activities won’t promote pro-gun incumbents as much.

  14. Ian Argent says:

    Dump the current residents on MD, allow new residents to maintain legal residency in their previous state a la military personnel. National representation problem solved; local elections can still be managed for physical residents.

    We already have this framework in place.

  15. citizenw says:

    Move the capital of the country to the center of the country, 40 miles north of Belle Fourche, SD. It’s basically uninhabited. Keep it that way. Make the legislature live in tents during legislative sessions, and return it all back to uninhabited grassland between each session. If no permanent structures can be erected in the ten-mile square, this problem will never happen again.

  16. divemedic says:

    Mike Doyle-
    Be careful about saying that DC residents should not be able to vote because they will always vote in their own self interest.
    This would also mean that the following could not vote:

    1 Local and State government employees
    2 Social Security recipients
    3 Military personnel
    4 anyone employed by a company contracted to provide service to the govenment
    5 anyone employed by a bailed out company

    By the time you exclude all of them, the only voters will be illegal immigrants and college students

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