The 1978 D.C. Voting Rights Constitutional Amendment
On August 28, 1978, the 95th Congress passed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution pending ratification by the three-fourths of the 'several states.' In 1978, the number corresponding to three-fourths of the several states was 38 (three-fourths of 50 is 38). A time limit of seven years was built into the amendment itself, and at the time the amendment expired, sixteen of the required thirty-eight states had ratified the document. Delaware was the last state to ratify the amendment before it expired.
The proposed amendment reads as follows:
Joint Resolution H.J. Res. 554
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution to provide for representation of the District of Columbia in the Congress
Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress:
"SECTION 1. For purposes of representation in the Congress, election of the President and Vice President, and article V of this Constitution, the District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be treated as though it were a State.
"SEC. 2. The exercise of the rights and powers conferred under this article shall be by the people of the District constituting the seat of government, and as shall be provided by the Congress.
"SEC. 3. The twenty-third article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
"SEC. 4. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission."
Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr.,
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Acting President of the Senate-pro Tempore
I certify that this Joint Resolution originated in the House of Representatives.
Edmund L. Henshaw, Jr.,
By W. Raymond Colley,
[Received by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, August 28, 1978]