When asked, many District of Columbia residents will be quick to point out that the district is not a state, and is subject to the control of Congress, per the U.S. Constitution. The slogan “Taxation without Representation” adorns the city’s vehicle license plates, and it is an issue which fires up many residing in the “202″. While the merits of this question are actively debated, they are not the subject of this modest post. However, one particular consequence of constitutionally-mandated Congressional control over the district is that many laws passed by the D.C. Council, the district’s elected rulemaking body, are subject to congressional approval before they take effect. While almost all D.C. legislation is approved by Congress – in fact, in the past 40 years Congress has only vetoed D.C. legislation 3 times – there is a congressional review period, and thus a wait-time, of 30 legislative days before D.C. legislation may be approved. This wait time can be critical, especially when elections and election cycles are fixed dates by law.
In Washington, D.C., unlike most states, the Attorney General (“AG”) for the District has traditionally been appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the D.C. Council, rather than by popular election. But in 2010, D.C. voters elected by voter initiative to change that practice and switch over the determination of the AG office to a general election, starting in 2014. Or at any time after January 1, 2014. When exactly the office was to convert to an elected position is the subject of a new lawsuit filed by hopeful AG candidate and well-known D.C. criminal lawyer, Paul Zukerberg. Though the ballot initiative which District voters approved contained language that “residents of the District of Columbia would begin voting for the Attorney General in 2014,” the actual implementing regulations (“Section 201”) passed by the D.C. Council which amended the official District of Columbia Charter stated that “the first election for the position of Attorney General shall be after January 1, 2014.”