Deny Much of VA and MD the Vote: A Longshot Legal Manuever For D.C. Statehood

No, I don’t think Fairfax and Montgomery Counties should lose Congressional representation. But the District’s lack of representation was predicated on the idea that D.C. would have an inherent conflict of interest, and so should not vote. Here’s where things get interesting (boldface mine):

Johnny Barnes, a former head of the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital and a longtime statehood advocate, announced over the weekend that he plans on filing a lawsuit to stop federal agencies like the FBI from moving out of D.C. — unless the city is granted statehood.

“We’ve been like willows in the wind, allowing the federal government to breach its promises that it made back in 1801 to keep all federal agencies in the District of Columbia,” he said in an interview. “We’re drawing the line on the FBI.”

In the lawsuit, Barnes says that the federal government’s presence in the city is part of a tradeoff for residents being denied voting representation. Once federal agencies started decamping to the suburbs in 1938, he says, the agreement between the government and D.C. residents was broken.

“There was… a clear, bargained-for exchange of promises when the District was created,” he argues in the lawsuit. “The federal government and the Founding Fathers promised that the District would enjoy federal patronage and the special economic benefit of that patronage. In exchange, District residents agreed to sacrifice the key privileges of state citizenship, including sovereignty and political standing.”

In the lawsuit, Barnes asks a judge to order that federal agencies outside D.C. be returned to the city and for the move of the FBI from its current building on Pennsylvania Avenue to a suburban site in Maryland of Virginia to be stopped.

“We’re saying, ‘We have have honored our part of the deal to surrender our rights… and now we want our rights restored, otherwise we’re going to make you do your part of the deal, that’s to keep all federal agencies headquartered in Washington, D.C.’ That’s the deal that was made,” he said.

It won’t happen, but maybe it will make some of the people who oppose our ability to elect real Congressional representatives a little miserable.

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