NOW A HANDFUL of Maryland delegates have got Walter Fauntroy jumping through a hoop in Annapolis, hoping to win a nod or two from them for ratification of the D.C. amendment. Never mind the fundamental justice in ending second-class citizenship of Americans who live in the District of Columbia -- instead, Mr. Fauntroy is agreeing to some bush-league summitry to appease a handful of Jewish delegates who have been upset by his meetings last fall with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

While they hold their votes hostage, Mr. Fauntroy is promising to draft a statement with some sort of criticism of the PLO. He would present it to them for review, negotiation and -- who knows -- perhaps several rewrites and a signature in blood before they might reconsider their attitude toward the District of Columbia.

As gross as the delegates' demands are -- and as important as ratification of the D.C. amendment is -- Mr. Fauntroy is setting a horrible precedent for all the other ratification votes needed in other state legislatures. Next thing you know, there will be a demand from some farm-state lawmakers that Mr. Fauntroy promise never to vote for grain embargoes; or that he give up his ministry and start smoking Virginia tobacco.

Precisely because the life and times of the District's lone and voteless emissary to Congress should not be a yardstick of how much democracy to accord his constituents, he should not stoop to these levels. Neither should any state legislator who understands the injustice of taxation without representation -- and who now can join more than two-thirds of Congress in doing right by their fellow Americans from the District of Columbia by voting for the amendment.