Congress has a clear duty to override the District of Columbia Council’s insane criminal justice “reforms.”
Home rule, you say? Yes, the council voted 12-1 to override Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto of the measures. But Bowser’s surely a better representative of the DC public will: Even more than in New York City, council races there are dominated by activists.
And national legislators have a right and duty to act to prevent an even larger crime wave in the capital. Among other pro-criminal changes, the new law reduces the maximum penalties for such violent offenses as burglaries, carjackings and robberies, and softens penalties for illegal gun possession by ex-felons as well as for using firearms to commit crimes. The maximum for gun crimes drops from 15 years to just four.
Remarkably, even the liberal Washington Post editorial board saw through the pretext for the “dangerous” law: “Proponents of the bill say African Americans are disproportionately convicted of violent crimes and couch their arguments in terms of equity,” but “African Americans are disproportionately victims of these crimes.”
Proponents also go off on “DC’s 122-year-old criminal code.” But the carjacking statute, for example, was enacted in 1993 following several high-profile incidents involving violent car thefts at gunpoint.
Tellingly, the changes would phase in from 2025 to 2030. That is, after most of the councilors who passed them have moved on.
Exercising Congress’ veto over DC laws in this case should be one thing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can agree on. Get the ball moving, gents.