Ruling in Pool and Geller v. BSA 06/21/01
Catania urges congressmen to withdraw bill that would trample on District's home rule
[Note: The following letter was sent to each of the seven sponsors of bill H.R. 2390, and a copy was sent to every Republican member of Congress.]
July 10, 2001
Rep. John Hostettler
1507 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC 20515
Dear Representative Hostettler:
As a Republican member of the Council of the District of Columbia, you can understand how outraged I was to learn that you have introduced legislation in the United States Congress to prohibit the D.C. government from implementing a policy with which you disagree. I find it rather hypocritical that some Republicans argue that local control over their government is best while at the same time they seek to micromanage a local entity composed of citizens that they do not even represent. The citizens of the District of Columbia have elected their own officials, who are accountable to the people, to make policy for the District. We are perfectly capable of doing so without Congressional intervention.
While you may not agree with the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on a number of characteristics, or the decision of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, we have a process, just like any other jurisdiction in the country, to change the law or appeal the process through the judicial system. Congressional intrusion into the process would be extremely heavy handed and would make a mockery of our democratic system of government with all of its laws and judicial system.
The recent decision by the D.C. Commission on Human Rights regarding two individuals and the Boy Scouts of America is only one step in the process. If the Boy Scouts do not agree with the decision, they can appeal it to the D.C. Court of Appeals. I implore you to allow this process to proceed as if it were occurring in any other jurisdiction in the United States, such as Evansville, Indiana. There is absolutely no need for Congressional action.
I hope when you consider taking punitive actions against the District of Columbia, such as you propose in the bill H.R. 2390, you keep in mind that there are over 500,000 residents reacting to your actions. D.C. citizens unnecessarily will judge all Republicans as being mean-spirited. I know, like me, you want to expand the Republican Party. Regrettably, actions such as yours seek to drive people away from the Party.
I urge you to respect the citizens, the elected officials, and the court system of the District of Columbia and to withdraw your legislation.
David A. Catania
Councilmember (At Large)
cc: Chairwoman Connie Morella
Chairman Joe Knollenberg
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton