A state delegate running for Congress believes congressional candidates should live in the district for which they’re running. The incumbent, Rep. David Trone, represents District 6, but lives just outside it, as allowed by the U.S. Constitution.
Del. Neil Parrott, who represents District 2A in Washington County, is running for Trone’s seat in the 6th District, which includes the counties of Garrett, Allegany and Washington, and parts of Montgomery and Frederick.
House Bill 1503, which Parrott presented to the House Ways and Means Committee last week, calls for the law to be put in place in 2022 — after the next two-year term.
However, the U.S. Constitution allows representatives in Congress to live outside their district, as long as they live within the state. Parrott suggested that if Maryland passes his bill, and it’s challenged, it could reach the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling on how the Constitution should be interpreted.
Parrott, a Republican, said the 6th District is at a disadvantage because Trone, a Democrat, lives in Potomac in the 8th District.
“What we have right now is two representatives living in District 8 right now. That gives District 8 two representatives,” he said, adding that after Trone lost a race for the 8th District seat, he turned to the 6th District instead.
Trone is the only Maryland representative who does not live in the district he represents. The 7th District seat is vacant after the death of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.
The last time the 6th District had a major party nominee who lived in the district was 2012. During that time, both Democrats and Republicans who live outside the 6th District have run for the seat.
“It’s important for the person who’s representing the district to understand the people that they’re representing,” Parrott said. “If you live there, you tend to work in the district and support businesses in the district by your everyday activity.”
Hannah Muldavin, a spokeswoman for Trone, sent an emailed statement that said the congressman has fought for issues that affect residents in the 6th District.
“Congressman Trone spends every day engaged with the residents of the Sixth District and working to solve problems they face,” she said. “Nothing in this unconstitutional bill would help accomplish those things.”
The U.S. Constitution says it is only necessary for a representative to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years and a resident of the state represented.
The 1995 Supreme Court ruling of U.S. Term Limits Inc. v. Thornton does not allow states to decide residency requirements and term limits for congressional candidates.
In order for the bill to become law, it would first have to pass both the House and Senate, both of which have a strong Democratic majority.
In order for a proposed amendment to be made to the Constitution,The Constitution can be amended through ratification by three-fourths of the states, which is 38.
Another possibility is that two-thirds of the state legislatures or a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate calls for a convention to change the constitution. According to the National Archives, none of the 27 Constitutional amendments was proposed by constitutional convention.
Parrott said the 1995 Supreme Court U.S. Term Limits ruling goes against what residents expect when they vote for representation. He said his bill is not meant to be a political strategy directed at Trone.
The Supreme Court ruling in the U.S. Term Limits case was 5-4. Only three of the nine justices from that case — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas — still serve on the court.
Parrott believes that passing the legislation could leave to an overturning of the ruling.
“I believe it was never unconstitutional. But it was liberal justices who said the states didn’t have the right on this issue,” he said.
His bill was written to take effect in 2022, which wouldn’t influence Trone’s potential re-election this year.
“We’re not trying to affect this election right now,” Parrott said. “I just think it’s good public policy.”
Several state and local offices in Maryland — including the General Assembly, county councils and boards of education — have requirements that people in those positions live in the area they represent, Parrott said.
Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org