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Mon Jan 25, 2021, 10:02 AM

DC statehood requires constitutional amendment?

On another post it was said that in order for Washington D.C. to achieve statehood, it would require a constitutional amendment. Is this true? I hadn’t heard that before.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Mon Jan 25, 2021, 10:12 AM

1. I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I always presumed that to be the case

but then again, maybe I'm mistaken which wouldn't be the first time on all sorts of matters in particular with law and the constitutionn even though I've read it once or twice in my lifetime.

But I expect our trusted legal/constitutional scholars will soon enlighten. I would be thrilled to learn that it does not require an amendment.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Mon Jan 25, 2021, 10:12 AM

2. WAPO: looks at this issue in depth (short answer R's claim so, but an alternative exists)

Could D.C. become a state? Explaining the hurdles to statehood.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/08/washington-dc-statehood-faq/
--snip--
Seven months after the House of Representatives passed a D.C. statehood bill for the first time, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) says the unprecedented assault on the U.S. Capitol adds to the urgency of the cause: D.C. residents, she said, risked their lives on Jan. 6 to defend a Congress that affords them no voting representation.

But D.C. statehood still faces a number of high hurdles, not only in the narrowly divided Senate but in public opinion. A 2019 Gallup poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans opposed D.C. statehood. Last year, statehood advocates launched a campaign to introduce the nation to everyday residents of their country’s capital, arguing that perhaps the nation doesn’t know enough about the people who live in the District to have an informed position about making it a state. --snip--

Washington, D.C.’s founding is enshrined in the Constitution, which provides that the District — “not exceeding 10 Miles square” — would “become the Seat of the Government of the United States.” For a brief period after the city’s creation in 1790, residents enjoyed voting rights and were allowed to cast ballots as residents of Maryland or Virginia. But those rights ended shortly after Congress moved into town and the new Capitol in 1800 and passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801. The act stripped D.C. residents of their rights to vote in all federal elections, including for president, and gave Congress oversight of the city.

The District was not afforded presidential electors until the passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961; its residents didn’t get a nonvoting delegate in the House until 1970. --snip--

Those opposed to making D.C. a state have argued that statehood for D.C. can’t happen without a constitutional amendment. They say the founders intended the entire District to serve as the seat of the federal government, not as a state. But legislation put forth by nonvoting Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) every year since 1991 would not eliminate the “seat of government” that the Constitution calls for. Instead, H.R. 51 would shrink the national capital to a small complex of federal buildings, while allowing the rest of the District to become a state.

Proponents of statehood argue that this plan preserves the federal enclave — whose only requirement is that it can’t exceed 10 square miles — and escapes the need for a constitutional amendment.


Outstanding questions remain over what would happen to the three electoral college votes currently afforded to the District when it becomes a smaller federal enclave. Some have wondered whether the 23rd Amendment would have to be repealed so that the few residents of the federal enclave — namely, those residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — don’t retain them.


--more--

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Mon Jan 25, 2021, 10:14 AM

3. Over the years, the debate has been that since the District is designated in the Constitution

then it was "exempt" from statehood. However the statehood argument has been that there be a "designated" area within the District to be considered "the (federal) District/seat of the U.S. (to include the Capitol, it's office buildings, the White House, Supreme Court, etc.) " and the rest (municipal/residential) be considered the "state".

I.e.,

Why Statehood for DC

(snip)

Statehood for Washington, DC is constitutional:

  • The Constitution sets only a maximum size, “ten miles square,” for the federal district that is the “Seat of the Government of the United States.” Congress has the authority to redefine the borders of the federal district and shrink its size, as it did in 1846, when the portion west of the Potomac was returned to Virginia (now Arlington and Alexandria Counties.
  • Creating the new state will require a simple reduction in the size of the federal district to an unpopulated area which includes the US Capitol, the National Mall, museums, some federal office buildings, the White House, the Supreme Court, and major national monuments.


  • https://statehood.dc.gov/page/why-statehood-dc


    ETA - U.S. Constitution

    Article I

    (snip)

    Section 8.

    The Congress shall have power to--

    (snip)

    To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlei

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    Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

    Mon Jan 25, 2021, 10:15 AM

    4. Whoever said that probably doesn't fully understand what the Constitution says

    From Article 1, Section 8:

    The Congress shall have Power To… exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such Dis­trict (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Con­gress, become the Seat of the Gov­ernment of the United States…

    The federal government has the right to exclusive jurisdiction, but that doesn't mean they need to exercise it. They could hypothetically move the capitol back to Philadelphia if they really wanted to, if they were content with the capitol being under the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania.

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    Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

    Mon Jan 25, 2021, 10:21 AM

    5. Nice article here

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/08/washington-dc-statehood-faq/

    Some obstacles, mostly political, and more than one solution. Unclear if an amendment would be necessary.

    Doesn't look like a happy ending in any event. Like I said, mostly political.

    eta:
    oops, looks like hlthe2b beat me to it.

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    Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

    Mon Jan 25, 2021, 11:05 AM

    6. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1

    Everyone who wants to comment on this should read that part of the Constitution before commenting.

    Anyone who does not is speaking out of ignorance.

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    Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

    Mon Jan 25, 2021, 11:07 AM

    7. Another problem area for statehood

    The Constitution prohibits the formation of a state using land from an existing state without the existing state's permission. When the fed'l government decided it did not need the southern portion of land for DC, it was returned to Virginia. This set a precident. Should the land that is not determined to be the seat of government, be returned to Maryland? Unless Maryland agrees to the taking.

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    Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

    Mon Jan 25, 2021, 11:20 AM

    8. We all know that if the population of DC was majority white

     

    Its residents would enjoy full US rights.

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