Saturday, February 28, 2009

Will Bishop and Chaffetz stand against Utah's Fourth?

Most of you who have been following the quest for Utah to get that 4th seat that was so narrowly denied to it in 2000 are also aware that the bill in Congress that would give Utah its extra seat is a debatable constitutional issue.

Now that the Senate has passed a bill that gives Utah another seat, DC a seat, and forces DC to end its restrictive gun laws, passage of a DC-for-Utah bill seems inevitable and since Obama was a co-sponsor, it will become law in the next few months. All of this means a constitutional challenge will occur in the next few months as well, and the issue will go before the U.S. Supreme Court perhaps as soon as October, who will have to decide whether the part of the Constitution that basically allows the Congress to do whatever it wants with the District of Columbia trumps the part of the Constitution about the make-up of the House (that is, its members have to be from States).

But in the law, and especially in Chief Justice Roberts' jurisprudence, anyone challenging the facial constitutionality of a bill must have standing and the issue must be ripe. Now for those of you who didn't go to law school, that means there needs to be a real party in interest whose injury is real and would almost immediately harm the party seeking to overturn the challenged law. So a U.S. Senator does not have standing, nor your average voter in any state or protectorate other than D.C. and Utah (under Roberts' other case law, but who says you have to be consistent versus politically expedient?). No, it would have to be a member of the U.S House whose vote is being diluted by 2/437ths (I am not good with fractions) due to two more members being added to the House. And since everyone except me thinks it will be a wash partisan wise (i.e. 1 GOPer from Utah, 1 Dem from DC), the national political parties also don't have standing.

So that leaves U.S. House Republicans that voted against the bill. And strategically, it is best to have the lead Plaintiffs be not someone like Minority Leader John Boehner from Ohio, but Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz from Utah, so that it doesn't look like big states against Utah and DC. The question is, are these two men ready to be the poster boys of a cause to reduce the potential voting power of their state? Do they want to be the ones that will tell voters in Utah that Utahns really only need them and Jim Matheson to represent them in the House, and that they should just wait until 2012 like good children? Good luck on running statewide when a senate seat opens up or Huntsman steps down.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

It's not going to be a wash partisan-wise. Utah is going to get that extra Republican seat in the next census anyway, so at best the Republicans gain a seat for a couple of years. The District of Columbia seat, however, will be there forever.