Sunday, January 28, 2007

Representation without Taxation

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed through a rules change that gives delegates from Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Colombia the right to participate in votes in the House when it meets as the Committee of the Whole. The House does so for almost all business short of a final vote.

George Will argues that this is blatantly unconstitutional, given that the Constitution repeatedly refers to members of Congress being selected by "the people of the several states." The less than 60,000 people of American Samoa, who do not pay U.S. federal taxes, will have the same voting representation in the Committee of the Whole as the 700,000 people of Montana.

Why would the Democrats push this through? All of the delegates, save the one from Puerto Rico, are Democrats. Historically, the one from Puerto Rico is almost always a Democrat. Power politics trumps the Constitution for the House Democratic leadership.

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