Clinton’s Guam Stance Explained: Amend the Constitution

By Lee Speigel

May 3, 2008 6:00pm

The ever-helpful Mo Elleithee of the Clinton campaign explains his boss’s pledge to the citizens of Guam (pre-caucus) to bestow upon them full voting rights.

(One of my questions below, I should point out, was in error — residents of Guam are already U.S. citizens. It’s Samoans who are U.S. nationals eligible for citizenship — not citizens of Guam. My bad.)

In any case, Elleithee explains that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., "believes that every American citizen should be able to vote for the president and have their vote count.  Citizens should have representation in the executive branch of their national government.  Territories send young men and women to serve in the U.S. military, and they should have a say in who is their commander in chief."

That said, Elleithee writes, Clinton "has not advocated a particular method for getting this done, but it would likely mean an amendment to the Constitution.  (Recall that D.C. citizens got the right to vote for president without statehood through the 23rd amendment.) In the case of Puerto Rico, in particular, it could also mean statehood if a majority of Puerto Ricans choose that option among Puerto Rico’s various status options.  (Please see her policy statement on Puerto Rico, which is on her Web site.)"

Clinton has co-sponsored the D.C. House Voting Rights Act of 2007, which would bestow upon the citizens of D.C. a full voting member of the House (Eleanor Holmes Norton is a delegate and can vote in committee but not on the floor of the House, as with the delegates from Guam, etc.) 

Clinton "believes in a similar principle for the territories — they should have a voting voice in the House of Representatives — and will work with Congress to figure out the best way to make that happen so that the people of the territories are properly represented." 

Of course, that does not necessarily mean a "voting voice" in the House, since these are small territories, much smaller than even the smallest state — Guam’s population is just over 150,000. So, a full voting representative for each territory would be out of proportion to the population.

- jpt

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