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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
EMANUEL CELLER, New York, Chairman
'FRANCIS E. WALTER, Pennsylvania
PETER W. RODINO, JR., New Jersey
E. L. FORRESTER, Georgia
WILLIAM M. TUCK, Virginia
ROBERT T. ASHMORE, South Carolina
LESTER HOLTZMAN, New York
J. CARLTON LOSER, Tennessee
ROBERT W. KASTENMEIER, Wisconsin
WILLIAM M. McCULLOCH, Ohio
Gichner, Mrs. Henry, vice chairman, District of Columbia Committee
Lusk, Hon. Rufus, president, Washington Taxpayers Association___
Meltzer, Sadye F., secretary, Lamond-Riggs Citizens' Association__
Norwood, William K., president, Federation of Citizens' Associa-
O'Donnell, James F., Esq., counsel, District of Columbia Federation
Cobb, Charles W., Jr., 6347 North Washington Boulevard, Arlington,
Darrin, David, 140 Constitution Avenue, NE., Washington, D.C..
Palisades Citizens' Association.
Proposed amendments, 1789-1954.--
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REPRESENTATION AND VOTE
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 1960
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 5
The subcommittee was called to order at 10 a.m., in room 346, House Office Building, the Hon. Emanuel Celler (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Emanuel Celler, Peter W. Rodino, Jr., Byron G. Rogers, Lester Holtzman, Harold D. Donohue, Herman Toll, William M. McCulloch, William E. Miller, and George Meader.
Also present: Cyril F. Brickfield, counsel, William H. Crabtree, associate counsel, and Richard Peet, counsel.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.
Senator Keating, is your statement going to be long? I promised Congressman Multer, who has to go to a committee meeting, that he might speak briefly. Will that be agreeable to you?
Senator KEATING. Yes, Mr. Chairman. We convene at 10 this morning. I am awaiting a call. If we have a quorum call or something right at the start, I would have to leave.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Multer, will you yield to Senator Keating? Mr. MULTER. Of course.
Senator KEATING. I think I am safe, Mr. Chairman. I will be about 10 minutes.
The CHAIRMAN. However, the Chair wishes to read a statement first. In sponsoring this legislation, which I introduced last year-September 11, 1959-I am hopeful that a constitutional amendment will be adopted in the very near future, giving the people of the District of Columbia the right to vote in Federal elections, as well as an enfranchised voice in the affairs of our National Legislature.
It seems incongruous that citizens as far away as Hawaii and Alaska have the right to vote, while the residents of the seat of the government do not, especially when it is remembered that the men and women of the District of Columbia have all the obligations of citizenship, including the payment of Federal taxes, of local taxes, and service in our Armed Forces.
The District of Columbia, with more than 850,000 residents, has a greater number of persons than 15 of our States and a greater number of its sons and daughters served in our Armed Forces in World War II than served from a third of our States.
The District's population, in fact, exceeds the combined population of Alaska, Nevada, and Wyoming, three States which are represented by nine men in Congress, while the District of Columbia remains
unrepresented. In 1948, the last time the District tax contributions were reported separately, the District paid over $363 million in Federal taxes more than the contributions of 25 States.
One may ask: Why have the residents of the District of Columbia been denied the right to vote for President and Vice President and excluded from representation in the Congress? A study of the constitutional debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and also of the contemporary writings of our leading statesmen of that day discloses that it was not the intention of our Founding Fathers to deny the District such rights. The denial stems, apparently, from an oversight or omission on their part, for nowhere in our fundamental instrument is there an express prohibition against voting by residents of the District; it is just that the Constitution simply does not provide for the right.
At the time the Constitution was being considered in Philadelphia in 1787, James Madison wrote in the Federalist, No. 43, that the inhabitants of the new Federal city should "of course *** have their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them." But at that time it was not known where the seat of government would be or what would be the size of the area ceded to the Federal Government for that purpose. It might have been, for all the Founding Fathers knew, a very small area indeed, just enough to encompass the Federal buildings needed to carry out the business of government, with residents surrounding it retaining their State citizenships. In any event, no provision for national representation of the Federal inhabitants was included. As the remarks of Madison suggest, however, the failure to do so was due to an oversight rather than to any intention by the framers to deny residents of the District the right to vote.
Technically, voting rights are denied District residents because the Constitution is said to provide machinery only through the States for the election of Senators and Representatives to Congress and for selection of the President and Vice President (art. I, sec. 2). Since the District is not a State or part of a State, there is no machinery through which its citizens may participate in such matters.
The correction of this omission is the sole purpose of my resolution, House Joint Resolution 529, which calls for a simple amendment to the Constitution, which would authorize Congress to pass laws permitting District citizens to vote in national elections and to elect Delegates to the House of Representatives with such powers as Congress determines. It provides
1. That the number of District Delegates in the House of Representatives shall be determined by an apportionment method known as the method of equal proportions with the District receiving, generally, as many Delegates as each State is entitled to Representatives on a population basis but in no event less than one Delegate;
2. That the Delegates are to have such powers, including the right to vote, as the Congress by law may prescribe;
3. That District residents may vote in national elections and be entitled to as many electoral votes for President and Vice President as the District has Delegates in the Congress.