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Government which has such a substantial interest in the city. (Letter of July 1, 1959.)
From the city of Kalamazoo, Mich., Mayor Glenn Allen writes:
I feel it is a shame that people who live in the District of Columbia may not vote. I feel that if the District could be given local self-government, a much more progressive government will result. I think this legislation is long overdue and that the Congress ought to at last make the necessary grant. (Letter of June 22, 1959.)
Mayor Donald Clancy, of Cincinnati, writes, on July 1, 1959:
I will discuss this matter (mayors home rule resolution) with our two Congressmen from the First and Second Districts of Ohio * * * and urge them to support the legislation you desire.
Mayor Richard Daley, of Chicago, writes, on July 8, 1959: This is to let you know that at a meeting held today I presented this resolution to the City Council of Chicago for their consideration, and am enclosing copy of the document for your information.
I share your hope that the combined effort being made will help expedite passage of this most important legislation.
And Mayor Charles C. Dail, of San Diego, Calif., writes to Commissioner Karrick on July 23, 1959:
My own personal observation is that the District of Columbia could more efficiently and effectively operate under a system of self-government granted by an electorate; that a city charter granting such authority to the people of the District of Columbia should be permitted by the Congress.
It would certainly follow that such a grant be executed since the trend of the Federal Government, as evidenced recent action to grant statehood to Alaska and Hawaii is in the directi of more local control of the citizens of communities who most assuredly should have the right to choose their own public servants to administer the affairs of the community.
As mayor of this city, you have my permission to state these views in your efforts for local self-government.
There is another national association known as the American Municipal Association, consisting of smaller and larger communities totaling 31,000. This association has passed repeated resolutions in support of home rule for the District of Columbia as a self-evident American tradition underlying the very basis of our democracy. Now I should like to read a letter from the executive director of the League of Kansas Municipalities dated July 21, 1959, to Congressman Wint Smith:
It has been called to my attention that there are now 24 identical bills before the House of Representatives which provide for home rule for the District of Columbia. I also have noted with considerable interest that during the last 10 years the Senate has, on five occasions, passed a home rule bill for the District of Columbia, but that such a proposal has not been acted upon by the House District Committee of which you are currently a member.
It has always seemed ridiculous to me that the people of the District of Columbia should be disenfranchised and should not be in a position to determine their own local affairs and government. This right seems to me to be one of the fundamental rights of our American system of government.
Here in Kansas, as you well know, the legislature submitted to the people in 1951 a constitutional amendment to provide a means of exercising home rule. The people approved that amendment by an overwhelming majority but because of the defective drafting of the amendment it has never been of much value. The 1959 legislature again considered the matter and is now submitting a new constitutional amendment which will be voted upon in 1960.
This attitude of the Kansas Legislature clearly indicates that people in local governments should have the right and the responsibility of conducting their own local affairs and government, and I feel confident that this attitude would extend to the District of Columbia as well as to any unit of government in the State of Kansas.
As a member of the House District Committee you certainly are in a position to exercise some influence in bringing about hearings on the matter of home rule for the District and in supporting the current bills which are bipartisan sponsored.
I trust that you will give this matter your serious attention and will exert your influence to bring about this historic change in the concept of the rights of the people of the District of Columbia.
Mr. Davis. You would not take it, would you, Mr. Wheeler, that the writer of that letter places the District of Columbia on the same basis as every other municipality in the State of Kansas?
Mr. WHEELER. You mean does he figure that the District of Columbia is of equal status to the State of Kansas?
Mr. Davis. No, that its status is the same as that of municipalities in the State of Kansas.
Mr. WHEELER. I think he thinks that the people of the cities of Kansas, as well as the people of the District of Columbia, should have local self-government.
Mr. Davis. I presume he knows of the difference between the status of the District of Columbia, as being a Federal city, and the various municipalities in the State of Kansas that do not have that responsibility and that status?
Mr. WHEELER. Yes, I think he is aware of that fact but notwithstanding it he thinks that the people of the District of Columbia should be able to exercise this small dose, shall we say, of home rule.
Mr. Davis. I gathered from the reading of that letter that he had the idea that the District of Columbia was pretty much in the same status as municipalities in the State of Kansas.
Mr. WHEELER. With respect to voting I think he does think that, although he recognizes, I believe, the difference in the sense there is a Federal interest in the District of Columbia, and I think this legislation I am urging you to report favorably out of this committee, the territorial home rule bill, is legislation that will preserve and protect the Federal interest. Í say it protects it in several respects. First, it has an appointed mayor.
Mr. Davis. That is one difference between the legislation here and the self-governing provisions in municipalities throughout the States. They have a right there to elect their mayor.
Mr. WHEELER. That is right. Mr. Davis. Under this legislation they would not have a voice whatever in choosing the chief officer of the government. He would be appointed, and not only would he be appointed but he would not be appointed for any specified length of time. He could be removed any time the President wanted to remove him.
Mr. WHEELER. Yes, sir. I recognize that that is the situation and I myself am in favor of an elected mayor as well as an appointed mayor. My feeling is that the Federal interest is protected by the provision in the act which leaves with the Congress the right to abrogate any law that is passed by this legislature. I think that gives the Congress full authority to repudiate or countermand any. thing they do not like that the representatives of the people of the District of Columbia do.
Mr. Davis. Have you given consideration to this proposition, that this pending legislation would go a long way toward taking the
control of the District of Columbia away from Congress and placing it in the Executive, in the President, because of the veto provisions which are contained in this legislation?
Mr. WHEELER. Yes, there is an element of the veto. It is a very limited veto provision, when Congress is out of session.
Mr. DAVIS. Even when Congress is in session if Congress vetoed or disagreed with legislation offered by the legislative body of the District and that got to the White House and was vetoed there, then it would require a two-thirds vote of the Congress to override the veto.
Mr. WHEELER. That is right.
Mr. Davis. That would have a tendency, it seems to me, to take the control of the affiairs of the District out of Congress and place it in the hands of the executive department, who would already have the right to name the Governor and the Secretaries, and this would place still more control over the affairs of the District in the hands of the executive.
Mr. WHEELER. I think it only remotely does that, Judge. There is a possibility of that happening, but I consider that a remote possibility. I think the analogy to the territories and the exercise by the territories of what I think are States rights, local administration of local affairs, I think that cannot help but be beneficial. It is beneficial to the State of Georgia, it is beneficial to the State of Hawaii. I believe it would be very helpful to the people of the District, and I am certain the local people would benefit. I allude to this matter a little further in my testimony as to how I believe it would redound to the benefit of the people of the District of Columbia. What we are trying to accomplish is a more ideal government. It is a matter of trial and error. We have tried this form of government. We find it very inefficient. I refer in my testimony to the archaicness of the laws of the District of Columbia. *Just 2 years ago, when I was chairman of the legislative committee of the bar association, I worked diligently with this full committee and with the clerk of the committee trying to get legislation through that would modernize our corporation laws in the District of Columbia, which had not been modernized for years. It was very difficult to get Congress to pass laws modernizing the corporation laws of the District of Columbia. Why? Because the Senators from Delaware thought that modernized corporation laws in the District of Columbia would somehow compete with business in Delaware. For years previously we could not get the laws changed where we could have local corporations dealing with local affairs.
Mr. Davis. Maybe those who preceded you did not work as diligently as you did.
Mr. WHEELER. We did work diligently. As you know, in order to get anything passed by the Senate affecting the District of Columbia you have to get it on the Consent Calendar. That deliberative body has unlimited debate, and the result is that the tax laws and the home rule bills are the only types of legislation that have been debated on the floor of the Senate.
Mr. Davis. And the appropriation bills.
Mr. WHEELER. Yes, the appropriation bills, just the most important. When a bill is on the Consent Calendar it is not difficult to get one Senator to say “No” on it. So we languish year in and year out and the law becomes archaic through judicial interpretation. What was
good for the people 100 years ago would not necessarily be good today. I cite the corporation law of the District of Columbia. I cite the law of distribution and descent. It was years and years before we could get unanimous agreement. And you know legislation by unanimous agreement is almost no legislation at all, and that is what we have here. We have legislation that is noncontroversial. How can you run a city like that? I submit to you that Washington cannot be run that way, Atlanta cannot be run that way, New York cannot be run that way, any city, effectively and efficiently.
Mr. Davis. Some of the witnesses who have preceded you who favor this legislation have stated that ultimately they would like to see the District of Columbia assume the status of statehood, first territorial and then statehood. What is your view on that?
Mr. WHEELER. I do not agree with that statement. I think that there is a difference between the District of Columbia and a State. It is inherently so, as you have pointed out with respect to the Federal interest.
However, I do think that there are other forms of local self-government that can be enacted without in any way disparaging or affecting adversely the Federal interest.
I refer to the vote for President and Vice President. I see no reason why the people of the District of Columbia cannot exercise that franchise.
I also refer to representation in Congress both in the Senate and House.
I see no reason why proper safeguards could not be put on the voting so as to enable the people of the District of Columbia to elect their own Representatives in Congress.
Mr. Davis. You would have then a Delegate in both the House and the Senate?
Mr. WHEELER. I have no objection to the Delegate in the House and the Senate. I support both of them but I will go one step further. I would think they can have voting Delegates and voting Senators in the Senate and voting Members in the House based on the same rules that would be apropos to the States.
Mr. Davis. That is, two Members of the Senate and as many Members of the House as the population would justify on the basis that the States have representation?
Mr. WHEELER. On the basis of bona fide residence in the District of Columbia and not voting elsewhere.
Mr. SMITH. I would like to ask the gentleman a question.
Mr. Smith. I would like to make this comment, since Kansas seems to be getting a lot of publicity here this morning from this League of Municipalities and also further on in your statement you have something to say about the Democratic Young Republicans and the letters you have addressed to the Democratic Congressmen. I thought this was a nonpolitical issue_home rule but it seems to me you have made it so.
About this League of Municipalities, that is nothing but a bunch of hired men. They are not elected. They are hired men and they are always trying to find some way of keeping up their standing and get a lot of publicity. What they are talking about as home rule in Kansas “Yes,
is a matter of taxation in the local cities. That is what they were talking about. I suppose you could ask almost any person in Kansas about home rule in the District of Columbia and they would say, they ought to have a vote," but they do not know the facts. It would be the same thing, to go down in the lower echelons of the Department of Agriculture and find four or five people who would say we ought to do this or that in the Congress on certain legislation.
I was elected here to represent what I think is the best interests of
my district and the citizenry as a whole. I do not like this idea of quoting hired men out there, when they have not any legislative function whatsoever. They are in your recommendations. Why do you not send a recommendation out to Muncie, Ind., or Jacksonville, Fla., and get their nose in those municipal problems? Everybody thinks people ought to have a right to vote. They don't know all the facts.
Mr. WHEELER. That is the problem I cannot see. What is the overshadowing fact here in the District of Columbia ?
Mr. SMITH. Because this is a Federal city and the Constitution says we shall have exclusive jurisdiction over this city.
Mr. WHEELER. But the Supreme Court does not say what you say it says.
Mr. SMITH. I do not care about the Supreme Court decisions.
Mr. WHEELER. After all, the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it says. I will tell you, the constitutionality-I would like to allude to this fact. Your own Legislative Counsel in this House of Representatives has given an opinion that this legislation, or similar legislation, is constitutional. The Attorney General of the United States has given
Mr. SMITH. When I said I do not care what the Supreme Court says, they think that they have become another legislative body in this country.
Mr. WHEELER. Everybody knows they do have some legislative aspects to their functions, just as the Congress is primarily legislative. They are primarily judicial but their decisions ultimately, you know, affect the legislation.
Mr. Davis. Before we get off of that subject, and this is in a very kind spirit, too, I just want to register my disagreement with the statement you made to the effect that the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. I think maybe you were a little hasty in making that statement.
Of course, the Constitution is what the Constitution says it is. I thoroughly disagree with the statement that the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is.
Mr. WHEELER. There was that man, Judge, who was asked a question, "The Supreme Court said this proposition was so. Do you disagree with it?" And he says, “Not anymore.”
He apparently had some disagreement before the Supreme Court acted on it, but after the Supreme Court says it is ended and finally he was ready to accept it. I think most lawyers and most people feel that way about the proposition.
Mr. Davis. I do not think facts will bear that out. Even the American Bar Association, through its various committees and through its organization, has thoroughly disagreed with that attitude.