The right to vote is considered sacred in the United States, where the Constitution and federal laws aim to prevent voter discrimination. One of those laws was reaffirmed Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that certain states with a history of civil rights abuses must continue to get federal permission before changing election procedures. Yet the rules that apply to Americans of all creeds and colors still don't apply to one select minority: residents of Washington, D.C.
Those who live in the nation's capital can vote for president and for local officials, but not for a voting member of the House of Representatives. That would change if Congress approved the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act. But after passage by the Senate, the bill has been placed on the legislative back burner by House leaders because of meddling by the gun lobby.
In both its House and Senate versions, the bill would expand membership of the House from 435 to 437. Only one of those seats would go to the District of Columbia; between enactment of the bill and the redistricting required by the 2010 census, the second would go to Utah, the state that came the closest to achieving additional representation in the 2000 census. It's no accident that Utah leans Republican -- awarding the state another seat would balance the extra representative that Democrats would gain from a D.C. seat.