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Our federal leaders must right this travesty
(Published October 23, 2000)

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will not step in to resolve the more than 200-year-old dispute over full citizenship rights for residents of the District of Columbia, the Congress and the President have an obligation to do so.

The Founding Fathers had no idea when they penned the Constitution of the United States that the federal capital would one day grow into a city of more than half a million residents. The District of Columbia did not yet exist when the Constitution granted full governing authority over the future federal capital to Congress, and Congress itself was envisioned as a part-time governing body whose members would perform their civic duty and return home to their real jobs.

Times have changed dramatically.

It is a worldwide embarrassment to all Americans that congressional leaders and the President continue to use an antiquated section of the Constitution as their lame excuse for denying full democratic rights to U.S. citizens living in our nationís capital.

When other sections of the Constitution have become obsolete, those provisions have been changed.

Need we remind the President and members of Congress that we would still have slavery and count black Americans as partial persons in the U.S. Census if our Founding Fathersí original precepts had been retained?

It is clearly a matter of misguided political chauvinism that leads federal leaders to continue their unreasonable, undemocratic claim that D.C. residents must somehow "earn" their rights as American citizens.

Those rights are the birthright of all Americans.

Congress and the President continue to rob unenlightened Americans of those rights when they urge U.S. citizens to buy homes in the nationís capital and relocate their families here. This travesty must be righted.

Copyright © 2000 The Common Denominator