Camp David may be in Maryland, but somehow the House of Delegates in Annapolis doesn't leap to mind as a great forum for international summitry. Yet that has failed to faze at least two lawmakers there who have been relentlessly pursuing their own shoddy homemade brand of foreign policy -- holding hostage their critical votes on the D.C. voting rights amendment and demanding the return of Walter Fauntroy to apologize for his past relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
As the amendment for a tough final test on the House floor this week, Dels. Stephen B. Sklar and David B. Shapiro, both of Baltimore, are still playing games with the second-class citizenship of all Americans who live in the District of Columbia. The game began in January, when they and two other colleagues decided that the life, times and behavior of Mr. Fauntroy would determine the extent of voting rights for everybody in the District of Columbia.
The more thoughtful legislators in Annapolis have since managed to rise above the Sklar-Shapiro standards for weighing a constitutional amendment. The Senate approved the measure, and then last week, it breezed through a House committee with minimal debate. But head counts showed that the vote on the House floor could go either way. Mssrs. Sklar and Shapiro, all too aware of their leverage in a close vote, released an "open letter" to Mr. Fauntroy renewing their demand for some new statement on his attitudes toward the PLO.
The reply should be "Return to Sender." The consideration in Annapolis should focus on the fundamental principles of justice embodied in the amendment -- not on the politics, religion, color or possible behavior of people who live in, and pay federal taxes from the District. Those are not conditions people in Maryland would want imposed on them, which is why broad coalitions of residents from throughout the state -- including religious groups that share many of the concerns of Dels. Sklar and Shapiro about the PLO -- are urging their delegates to support the amendment. It is a matter of human rights -- and that is what should guide every delegate in the critical vote coming up.