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Ancient U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Seems to Say Congress May Give D.C. a Voting Representative

Published on November 28, 2008, by in General.

In 1820, the U.S. Supreme Court issued Loughborough v Blake, 18 U.S. 317. It seems to suggest that the Court believed Congress is free to provide for a voting member for the District of Columbia in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The case concerned whether Congress could tax residents of the District of Columbia. But it also says this: “Although in theory it might be more congenial to the spirit of our institutions to admit a representative from the District, it may be doubted whether, in fact, its interests would be rendered thereby the more secure.” Thanks to Michael Warnken for this. Here is a link to the opinion.

13 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    The Supremes, old and new, just love putting irrelevant DICTA into their opinions — makes them feel useful — no matter how many times such DICTA is used to make them look like MORONS.

    D.C. is NOT a State of the Union — in 1820 or 2008.
    Art. I, Sec. 2
    14th Amdt, Sec. 2.

    The district stuff in Art. I, Sec. 8 was added so that the State party hacks could NOT interfere in the U.S.A. capitol area. See the Federalist.

  2. D. Frank Robinson

    I suppose that if Congress can give DC a Representative, then they can take it away. Does that mean a DC Representative is equal to a Representative of a state? Actually, the Congress takes Representatives away from states every ten years by having frozen the size of the U.S. House it guarantees that Representation will be lost by some states. OTH, there is no Constitutional maximum size for the U.S. House. I suppose they want to keep to House small to keep from spreading the graft too thin.

  3. Jim Riley

    There is a restriction on apportioning more than one representative per 30,000 persons, so that would set a current upper limit of around 10,000 members.

    If Congress may give DC one representative, they may give DC 1000 representatives. And since the representative is not be given on the basis of treating the district as a State, there is no requirement that such representatives be elected by the people.

  4. D. Frank Robinson

    Thanks for the reminder on the theoretical maximum based on the one per 30,000 ratio.

    On your second point, it would certainly “adjust” the number of Presidential Electors. With enough Electors given to DC the rest of the country could skip the election.

    Perhaps, we need a constitutional convention to start over. The Supreme Courts seem to have made a gooey mess out of the old Constitution.

  5. Representative for Guam, PR, other corners of our fascist, imperial, global empire? How about getting rid, state by state or nationally, the anti populist Electorial Circus altogether?

    Apparently border to border white suburbia of Mary Land does not want DC back as a county. But DC residents with representation and none in Guam, PR, and else where? We are a screwed up little not quite federalist, not quite nationalist, not quite states rights, not quite populist community!

  6. Demo Rep

    Lots of negative stuff in the barely surviving U.S.A. Constitution — under continuous attack by the statutory fix type MORONS and monarchs / oligarchs.

    Some positive stuff —

    Uniform definition of Elector-Voter in ALL parts of the U.S.A.
    Equal nominating petitions for ballot access.
    P.R. in all legislative bodies.
    A.V. in all nonpartisan executive/judicial offices.

    Much too difficult for the genius folks who know all the history trivia stuff connected with the regime ???

    For the clueless – the ENTIRE regime is a gerrymander timebomb — full of super-leftwing and super-rightwing MONSTERS in the gerrymander Congress and in every gerrymander State legislature.

  7. Joel

    I agree with some of the posts addressing the need for a comprehensive overview/revision in regards to how the U.S. Constitution grants representation at the federal level. Indeed, we’re long overdue for a Convention!

    In regards to the House size, a while back Rep. Hastings from Florida introduced a bill that would establish a commission that would evaluate the size of the House and the method of election.

    Up until 1920, the House grew in accordance with the decennial census information. A bill was introduced to increase the size to 483 members, but was ultimately capped at 435 by the passage of “The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929″. Makes you think how large our delegations would be today!

  8. Mark Seidenberg

    This posting reminded me of what I read many years
    ago as an undergraduate in American history. Viz.,
    that under the Ordinance of 1787, the House of Representatives and the territorial council, met in
    joint session, elected the territorial delegate to
    Congress (not just the US House of Reprentatives).

    Then George Poindexter of Mississippi Territory suggested popular election to the House and on
    9 January 1808, the electors of Mississippi Territory received the privilege of electing their
    delegated to Congress at the same election they
    elected representives to the territorial House. [Laws of Congress, 10th Congress, 1st sess. pp. 14 – 16].

    This leads me to the remainder of the Territory of
    Michigan and Territory of Hawaii. While I can not
    see a population could ever hit the mark in the
    remainder of the Territory of Hawaii to obtain a delegate to Congress. I do see the
    population numbers in the near future of the remainder of the Territory of Michigan, that they could have the population in to get a delegate to Congress again. {By the remainder of
    the Territory of Michigan, most of that remainders
    are on islands in the Pacific Ocean named the Washington Islands. Which are part of a United States territorial dispute with the government of British Columbia, a la, W.A.C. “Wacky” Bennett views.} {Palmyra Island is most of the remainder of the Territory of Hawaii.}

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party

  9. Related to this subject is the fact that the very first amendment inscribed on our Bill of Rights was never ratified. “Article the first” was intended to ensure that the population size of congressional districts never exceeded 50,000. While being finalized in joint committee, this amendment was inexplicably made defective by a subtle revision. This is an interesting story, which is found at:
    http://enlargethehouse.blogtownhall.com/

  10. D. Frank Robinson

    The Amendment to which Mr. Quidam #9 refers is STILL pending. If the language defect was cured the House membership could rise to about 6,000 members. That’s a lot of people for the lobbyists to get in their pockets.

  11. Jim Riley

    #4. Read the 23rd Amendment again. DC gets the number of electors it would have as if it were a State, except that it can’t have more than the least populous State.

    But the current legislation does not propose giving DC representation on the basis of it being a State, or even the equivalent of a State (at least as a matter of law), but rather under terms of Article I, Section 8 granting Congress the right to exercise exclusive jurisdiction.

  12. Jim Riley

    Congress does not have to let residents of federal enclaves vote in State and local elections.

    So Congress could retrocede most of DC to Maryland, but retain jurisdiction, and grant Washingtonians federal election rights in Maryland, without making them subject to Maryland taxation, law, or rights to participate in Maryland State elections.

  13. NewFederalist

    OR… Congress could simply end all taxes in the District (ending the “taxation without representation” issue) and terminate home rule for the city and initiate the repeal process of the 23rd amendment. I think Speaker Pelosi would make a spendid “mayor” as many speakers in the past have demonstrated.

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