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Mayor elect Adrian Fenty clearly seems to be heavily entrenched and/or controlled by the husband and wife team of Joe Sternlieb and attorney general nominee Linda Singer but all three of them are clearly complete jackasses, dreamers and out of touch with reality and with the people of the United States.




Timothy Cooper has laid out for most of us how full of ***brown trout*** Fenty, Sternlieb and Singer are when he wrote at DC Watch on November 23, 2006:



Ilir Zherka notes in “Join the Final Push for the DC Voting Rights Act” [themail, November 19] that “we can bring the dawn of a new democracy to DC if we all keep up the hard work over the next few weeks.”



He is of course referring to the well-intentioned but deeply flawed DC voting rights legislation, that if passed, and deemed constitutional, would afford DC residents a voting representative in the House of Representatives as well as an additional House seat in the House for the state of Utah. But is it constitutional?



Since no Congressional Research Service or US Department of Justice legal analysis has ever been conducted on Congress’s inherent power to legislate a single vote for DC in Congress, for reasons that remain perplexingly unclear, DC Mayor Williams/Fenty, the city council, DC Delegate Norton, and the House Governmental Reform Committee are relying in major part on the highly partisan legal opinions written by 1) Kenneth Starr, who was hired by the House Governmental Reform Committee under Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), and 2) DC Appleseed, to support their novel theory.



But there are other noted constitutional scholars, including Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, who take strong exception to the theory and have been largely ignored. We do so at our possible peril. It should be noted, for instance, that in a recent DC voting rights case, Adams v. Clinton (2000, US District), the courts commented "how deeply Congressional representation is tied to the structure of statehood" and that "the Constitution does not contemplate that the District may serve as a state for purposes of the apportionment of congressional representatives"; and in Michel v. Anderson (1994, US Appellate) the courts held that a House rules change granting DC and territorial delegates a vote in the Committee of the Whole would be unconstitutional but for a so-called "savings clause" that prevented the nonvoting delegates from voting if their vote proved decisive because DC and territorial residents were not "people of the several states"; and in Clarke v. US (DC Circuit, 1989) and Palmore v. US, 411 US 389 (1973), the courts held that Congress enjoys plenary authority over the District under Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 17 only so long as Congress does not "contravene any provisions of the constitution."



Can Congress simply ignore Article I, which confers the right of congressional representation on the so-called “qualified” people of the several states, without making DC a state or a part of a state or by passing an amendment?



Should the DC Voting Rights Act pass, it will surely be challenged. Likely, a restraining order will be issued preventing DC’s representative from voting until all constitutional questions have been determined. But what if, at the end of a protracted litigation, DC’s single House vote is declared unconstitutional, but Utah’s extra seat is upheld? Will the legislation fail as a whole or will only DC’s portion be strike down? The current legislation contains a so-called “nonseverability” clause that states that if any provision in the bill is declared invalid “the remaining provisions… shall be treated as invalid”; but there’s ample precedent to suggest that courts aren’t bound by such boilerplate language (Bizko v. RIHT Financial Corp held, for instance, that “a non-severability clause cannot ultimately bind a court. . .”).



Without more specific language about Congress’s true intentions regarding severability, the courts will turn to the legislative history for clarification. Statements made by the Committee Chairman, the Committee Report and the Floor Debate will be crucial. Otherwise, Utah could walk off with its extra House and electoral vote, with DC never casting a single vote. That’s hardly the dawn of a new democracy for DC. To me, it looks more like a Republican Trojan Horse rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue in the full light of day.

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