Statehood for D.C.?

Sorry, you are correct,
"In such a manner that the congress may direct”

That doesn’t change anything, they can still control it. Yes, they don’t have to direct anything, but Manchin says they can’t direct it at all and he’s wrong. It is within the power of congress to make this a non-issue without an amendment. Of course they should repeal the amendment to eliminate the problem if DC achieves statehood and/or pigs fly, but it’s not a requirement.

I say Congress can’t direct the district to forego appointing electors when the Constitution explicitly reads, “The District […] shall appoint […]”.

The constitution calls for a decennial census in such a manner as Congress shall direct. Surely you agree it would be unconstitutional for Congress to direct the federal government to never take a census, thus never reapportioning the House?


“Shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct.” The details of the census are covered in the Constitution, there was no such escape clause for it.

I don’t like this situation, I wouldn’t want that some nonsense to happen in order to make it work, but if for some stupid reason DC is given statehood without disabling the 23rd in some manner then it’s no different than any of the other government stupidity we deal with. The lack of a means to deal with the 23rd may be a considered by some a good reason to deny statehood to DC, but I don’t see an amendment as a requirement. I would certainly like to see an amendment repealing the 23rd to take place in conjunction with statehood rather than some compromise on the matter, but it still does not require an amendment to make DC a state.

Nor do I; if the bill allocated all 3 votes to the most popular candidate nationwide I think that would be constitutional. It is specifically the plan to appoint no electors that I find unconstitutional.


If your boss tells you to put together a sales presentation in such manner as you may direct, would you think that one such manner is that you put together no sales presentation at all?

If my boss left it up to me and I found out that corporate had withdrawn that product then I wouldn’t be an idiot and hold the sales presentation anyway. Would you?

If I am following the analogy, yes, if the 23rd Amendment were repealed (the product is discontinued) then Congress wouldn’t have to appoint electors.

Yes, it can do so in the manner it directs: hold a popular vote, appoint them directly, etc., but it may not just fail to appoint them. But what do you do when a simple statute makes that an impossibility? I think you have to hold that a simple statute which makes a mandatory constitutional provision impossible is to hold that the statute is unconstitutional.

The bill doesn’t actually make it impossible for electors to be chosen. Congress cannot bind itself. Future Congresses, even the very same Congress, would be perfectly entitled to appoint electors by legislation in the same way that some state legislatures did in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 23rd Amendment does not say there must be general standing law on how the electors are to be chosen. It’s likely that there would be political conditions under which Congress would not do that, just as there were political conditions under which Senate seats went empty before the 17th Amendment fixed that problem.

But it doesn’t make it an impossibility. Just an absurdity. Congress could, for example, appoint members of the White House permanent staff as electors. That would be dumb and absurd, but not impossible.

Didn’t stop Congress from pretending for nearly a decade that the dog ate the 1920 Census.

My opinion won’t necessarily stop Congress now, either. Independent of my opinion on constitutional law, I highly doubt the Senate will grant D.C. statehood this session.


Suppose the bill did just that. It’s a bill and can be changed. In 2132 the A and B parties are in a close competition. A controls both houses and has the Presidency, but things haven’t been going well and that may chance come November. Congress then directs that all three EV be given to party A.

It’s also interesting that the Amendment says as Congress may direct. It doesn’t say they pass a law to do this, so Congress may control this without the President.

No, there is a general provision in the original Constitution saying that Congress has to run everything (except adjournments*) past the President, so it would just be a normal law that the President would have a chance to veto.

*It was eventually decided that there was also an exception for constitutional amendments since that process is written out explicitly, but it wasn’t always clear that that was the case, so some early amendments were signed by the President before being sent to the states.

According to the wikipeidia article on the 13th, the 13th is the only ratified amendment that was signed by the President, and Congress promptly passed a resolution saying that presidential approval was not necessary:

Nitpick: 1847: District of Columbia retrocession - Wikipedia