Governing the District of Columbia

A quick thought that occurred to me recently is that someone could probably write an interesting article on how Congress governed the District of Columbia from its creation in 1800 until Home Rule was established in the 1970s.  The District (along with the territories) was one place where Congress did possess a police power.  How was that power exercised?  Were certain regulations justified as fine in the District but not elsewhere based on the police power distinction?  In going through the Annual Messages of the Presidents, I noticed that they often talked about issues in the District as deserving of Congress’s attention.  Anyway, I may post more about this in the coming weeks.

UPDATE:  Consider that Marbury v. MadisonBolling v. SharpeAdkins, and Heller were all cases arising out of municipal regulations in the the District.  I’m trying to think of other examples.

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Mike Stern says:

    I would be surprised if someone hasn’t written such an article already. But it would be interesting to know if anyone has gone through the archives of the congressional committees of jurisdiction.

  2. Joe says:

    It would be interesting how the Bill of Rights, e.g., were applied to D.C. as well as the territories in antebellum times. In Heller, one judge below in dissent argued D.C. not being a state made a difference. The argument was disposed of in passing & the dissents didn’t seem to pay attention. Anyway, United States v. Vuitch involved a D.C. abortion law.

  3. John Dereszewski says:

    In deciding the Bolling case, I always wondered if the court could have elided the “5th Amendment Due Process clause includes the Equal Protection Clause” argument by concluding that, in situations like DC where the Federal Government wields “State-like” police power authority – but in no other instance – the requirements of equal protection would apply. In making this argument, the court could have reasoned that the more localized factors that require the enforcement of equal protection at the State level – something that the framers of the 14th Amendment may have considered to be significant – would be aplicable here though would not necessarily be the case where the Federal Government legislated on a national basis. Since the Court was, as late as the 1940’s, still routinely rejecting equal protection like objections to Federal law by categorically stating that “the ep clause does not apply to the Federal government”, this approach would have provided a more nuanced break from the past. I just wonder if any arguments along these lines were ever suggested in any of the Bolling briefs and amicus submissions.