D.C. Voting Rights

Washington’s Truly Offensive Name



Washington’s Truly Offensive Name


DID YOU KNOW THAT the state of Florida has outlawed dwarf tossing in bars; Missouri prohibits driving with uncage bears or North Dakota prohibits the sale of beer with pretzels?  These may sound ridiculous but, unless you live there, there is nothing you can do about it.

Not so for the District of Columbia.  If you don’t like a law passed by the D.C. Council, just tell your Congressman and they can block it.  This happened last month when Maryland Republican Andy Taylor attached an amendment to a budget bill that would prohibit D.C. from spending local money on a D.C. law to decriminalize possession of marijuana.

This is nothing new since Congress in the past has intervened to block measures approved by the D.C. City Council ranging from health insurance benefits for domestic partners, contraceptive equality and medical marijuana use.  Washington residents can only watch from the sidelines as their fate is bounced around like a political beach ball, since their only voice in Congress is its non-voting Delegate.

Keep in mind that we are talking about Congress enacting laws restricting how the city spends both local and federal funds.  In 2013, 83 percent of D.C. voters approved an initiative to give the mayor the authority to spend local funds (which accounts for 74 percent of its budget) without Congressional approval, but this was quickly overturned by the courts.  Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan explained

as a native Washingtonian, the Court is deeply moved by Plaintiff’s argument that the people of the District are entitled to the right to spend their own, local funds. Nevertheless, the Court is powerless to provide a legal remedy and cannot implement budget autonomy for the District. . . . Congress has plenary authority over the District, and it is the only entity that can provide budget autonomy.

As we celebrate Independence Day, let us remember that for the District of Columbia’s 632,323 residents — who pay more federal taxes per capita than the citizens of any other state and who have lost more of its sons and daughters defending this nation than twenty other states — taxation without representation is alive and well.

The Supreme Court has said that

[n]o right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.

In fact, the Organization of American States and the United Nations Human Rights Commission have both found the fact that D.C. residents are deprived “of the very essence of representative government” to be a human rights violation.

Yet when it comes to the District of Columbia’s disenfranchisement, few outside of Washington notice and even fewer care.  That is simply how it has been for over two centuries now.  As former Washington resident, I refuse to let this go unnoticed, which is why in 20122013 and today I have made posts highlighting the nation’s forgotten colonists.

Forget the name of its football team, the fact that its citizens have no voice in the halls of Congress should be offensive to us all.  Maybe if Dan Snyder changed the Redskins name to Colonist people would finally take notice of Washington’s status as the last American colony.


For more information visit DCVote.org.