- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Monday.

“It will be debated constitutionally by the Supreme Court, and I think it will get a rigorous hearing; hopefully, a quick hearing,” said Mr. Huntsman, a Republican. “You have an injustice in that you have people paying taxes that aren’t represented. And in our state, you have injustice in that we have a whole lot of people that are underrepresented.”

The legislation, which would give the Democrat-dominated District a full House vote and Republican-leaning Utah a fourth House member, is scheduled to be addressed Tuesday in the Senate. Senators will need 60 votes to begin formal discussions.

A similar bill fell short of the 60 votes in the Senate last year after passing the House in 2007.

“We have been underrepresented since the last census,” Mr. Huntsman said. “We are the fastest-growing state in America, and there are a lot of underrepresented people in Congress.”

Critics say that even if the House and Senate pass the bill, it would be shot down by the Supreme Court as a violation of Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which states “representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states.”

The District is not considered a state and is largely overseen by Congress.

Supporters say Congress has the power to give the District a representative because of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which states that Congress must “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District.

Utah now has one Democratic representative and two Republicans in the House and is the next to receive a new seat based on the 2000 census.

The bill also has support from several other prominent Utah politicians, including Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican and bill co-sponsor.

Salt Lake Tribune that he will likely vote for cloture, but is not sure whether he will vote for its passage.

Debate of the bill began Monday when President Obama’s economic-stimulus package, added his name as a co-sponsor to the bill.

“It is long past due to have a voting seat for the District of Columbia,” he said.

Supporters think the bill has a good chance of passing this year.

Democrats added substantially to their Senate majority in the 2008 elections, and the influx is thought to give the bill the necessary votes for passage. In addition, Mr. Obama, a Democrat, is on record as supporting D.C. voting rights.

The Senate’s approval of the bill would send it to the House, where it likely would be voted on next month.

The 23rd Amendment, ratified in 1961, gave the District representation in the Electoral College, which elects the president. And the landmark D.C. Home Rule Act, signed by President Nixon in 1973, provided local control over certain affairs, such as directly electing a mayor and council.

Congress sent the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment, which would have granted the District the same voting rights as a state, to the states for ratification in 1978. But by the time the seven-year limitation on ratification of the proposed constitutional amendment had expired, only 16 states had ratified it.

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