MAINE has just struck a blow against taxation without representation: it has become the 11th state to ratify the constitutional amendment calling for congressional representation for the people who live in the District of Columbia. Another important vote may be taken today in West Virginia. There, constructive consideration in the state legislature has resulted in house approval of the amendment last week, and senate action is scheduled today.
Yes, the going has been slow, and there is more than a bit to do before this unfinished business of America is completed. The amendment needs approval by a total of 38 state legislatures by August 1985. Still, there are encouraging signs of new activity by coalitions of local people all around the country who recognize the injustice of denying District residents a fair role in the decisions of the U.S. Congress.
In Maine, where the state house voted 85 to 51 for ratification and the senate followed, 23 to 10, the coalition that provided critical help was headed by Doreen Macleod of the Maine League of Women Voters. Similar groups assisted in the states that ratified: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin.
In West Virginia, the support also has been coming from diverse state and local groups that recognize the fundamental American principles at stake --as well as the fact that the United States is singular among free-world nations in its failure to provide voting representation for residents of its capital. This was an important factor in the two-thirds votes given the amendment in the U.S. House and the Senate after testimony by many constitutional experts.
It should not be a matter of politics or race or partisan considerations, but rather a matter of justice. The addition of West Virginia today would be an important testimonial.