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Public Statements

District Of Columbia House Voting Rights Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 19, 2007)


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, before I begin to set forth my opposition to this piece of legislation, let me refer back to the comments made by the previous speaker, which looked back over 150 years to try to find a case to provide some substantiation for their argument, and they did so by finding a case with regard to judicial intervention.

In that case they cited that the Supreme Court held that this Congress could allow or broaden the judicial authority, if you will, of the Federal courts. I think their example, in essence, proves too much. You cannot simply take one sentence or two sentences out of the U.S. Constitution and draw a conclusion from that. What you have to do is read the entirety of the Constitution.

If you had done that, you would realize that the courts have always held, and the Founders' intent always was, that this body, this House, and this Congress has broad latitude when it comes to judicial issues and reining in the Federal courts or expanding their authority of jurisdiction. And that is all that that Supreme Court case was doing. It was not addressing the issue of infringing upon the rights of other citizens by what is occurring here today by granting more authority to other States as far as voting is concerned.

More to the point on this legislation. As I said before, I rise in strong opposition to this legislation because it is, A, unconstitutional, and, B, unfair. It violates the Constitution and the very fundamental intent of the Founding Fathers of this country and the Framers of the Constitution. It would give the District, which is by no definition a State, a vote in this House and simultaneously the citizens of another State two Representatives, which is unfair to the State of New Jersey and all States in this country.

Furthermore, by allowing, unfairly, the District of Columbia to have their own Representative and also a Delegate, they will have unfair representation.

Our Founding Fathers understood and deliberately set aside a non-State section of land for our Federal Government and granted voting rights only, only, to State residents. They did this for a simple reason: They wanted to ensure that each State had equal representation, and they realized that putting the Federal Government in a State would have given that State unfair representation, an unfair advantage. H.R. 1905 does not line up with the Founders' intent.

If the supporters of H.R. 1905 wanted the people of D.C. to be represented in Congress, they simply could have solved that problem by retroceding, by giving back part of the District of Columbia to Maryland.

There is precedent for this, as stated. In 1846, Congress took that perfectly legal step of returning present-day Arlington to the State of Virginia. Couldn't we pass similar legislation like that right now and solve this problem?

Unfortunately, the majority, who claimed just a few months ago that they would have an open process for amendment legislation, has left us with only two choices, an unfair and unconstitutional choice before this House.


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