Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Red and Dead: An Originalist Approach to the Twenty-Third Amendment

Now that  the Democrats have revived the originalist, "dead constitution" understanding of the electoral college, I think it is time to animate the "dead constitution" understanding of the Twenty-third Amendment.

That amendment, you will recall, is what gives DC electors -- three, as it happens.  But note the first few words of section 1:  "The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct..."  As with the other electors, nothing in the amendment requires that those electors be selected on the basis of popular vote.  To quote Bush v. Gore, "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States."

By Article I, Section 8, clause 17, Congress is "to exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever" over the District.   Just as state legislatures have the power to enact or abolish the popular vote for the electors, Congress is perfectly within its rights to abolish the popular vote for electors in DC.  Congress could choose some other method for the District to select its electors, or could choose the electors by name and order the District to appoint them.

A sufficient Republican majority in both houses of Congress, and those three votes go red.  Drain that swamp!

{Alexander Hamilton wanted John Jay to do something similar with regard to the New York electoral college for 1800, so the DC 3 chosen by Congress would have a better right than anybody to call themselves "Hamilton Electors."}

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