Monday, April 5, 2021

Does D.C. Statehood Require Constitutional Amendment?

According to Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, only Congress has the Ability to Authorize the Creation of a New State. Specifically, Section 3 Prohibits the Creation of New States from the Territory of others without their Consent, or the combining of Two or more States without Congressional Approval. Congress has the Power to Admit a New State, but the President has to Sign the Territory into Statehood to make it Official.

The Founders wanted the Naation’s Capital to be a Federal District, existing beyond the Confines or Influence, of any One State.

"What made sense in 1800," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD, 8th District)) said, "is insensible and indefensible today." Democrats have introduced Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51), which would Transform most of the District of Columbia into the Nation’s 51st State, with One Representative and Two Senators, by simple Legislation.

Does Congress have the Power to do that?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) noted during the Carter Administration: "If [the original reasons for creating the district] have lost validity, the appropriate response [is] to provide statehood for the District by constitutional amendment rather than to ignore the Framers’ intentions."

The Reagan DOJ noted, the Question of D.C. Statehood is "a constitutional issue that goes to the very foundation of our federal union."

The 23rd Amendment, ratified in 1961, provided Three Electoral College Votes to Washington, D.C. poses a Constitutional Obstacle to the District becoming a State by simple Legislation.

While H.R. 51 calls on Congress and the States to Pass a New Constitutional Amendment on an Expedited Basis to Repeal the 23rd Amendment, it provides No Guarantees and No Specific Timeline for doing so. The Bill itself recognizes this is a Problem. H.R. 51 would require Congress to Ignore the Command of the 23rd Amendment that "the District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct" Electors for President and Vice President. Instead, it would require Congress to Fail to Appoint any such Electors by simply striking the District of Columbia from a few Statutory Definitions.

Antonin Scalia observed when still a Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, "It is ... fanciful to consider as 'politically powerless' a city whose residents include a high proportion of the officers of all three branches of the federal government and their staffs."

Even those who support D.C. Statehood admit District Residents enjoy Special Benefits due to where they Live and would Enjoy an Outsize Influence in Congress because of it.

Raskin has noted that "representatives from [the new state] will carry with them many special advantages." In addition to having the Local Press Corps Double as the National Press Corps, "the representatives from the New State, likely Living minutes from their Offices, will theoretically devote more time to Institutional and Committee Politics and less to constant travel back and forth across the country, increasing their importance and influence on Capitol Hill."

This seems like exactly the sort of "awe or influence" that James Madison wrote about in Federalist 43, the very thing that the Framers wanted to Avoid. Serious though these Practical Arguments are, the Greater Issue is the Constitutional Problems plaguing H.R. 51.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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