COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson says the bill that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state is unconstitutional.
Wilson is one of four lead authors of a 22-state attorneys general letter opposing a bill that would make the nation’s capital the 51st state.
The other lead authors are Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The other states to sign on the letter are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.
On Jan. 4, Washington, D.C.’s representative Eleanor Holmes Norton — she can introduce bills but not vote on them — introduced a bill that would make the district, a state. The bill would also change the name from Washington, District of Columbia, to Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is a co-sponsor of this bill. It is in one of the House committees.
“There’s a clear reason we’re against granting statehood to D.C.,” Wilson said. “We’re sworn to uphold the Constitution and it would be unconstitutional to make Washington, D.C., a state.”
Basically, the attorneys general argue in the letter that the bill is insufficient to allow the district to become a state. They argue that since the territory of the district was given to the federal government by Maryland — Virginia also gave up a part of its territory but this part was returned in 1847 — and imply that the Maryland General Assembly may have to consent to the statehood.
It is unlikely that this would be an issue if required. The Maryland General Assembly is controlled by the Democrats who would likely see the admission of the district as an opportunity to add three more electoral votes to the Democrats’ presidential runs and increase the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
The attorneys general also argue that the Founding Fathers did not want the district to become a state and reject the idea that residents of the district are disenfranchised.
“Its residents — who all willingly live in the District with an understanding of its unique nature, including Congressional staff, leaders of federal departments and agencies, members of the media, lawyers, and lobbyists — have more power, influence, and control over Congress and the nation than anyone else,” they write. “The notion that Members of Congress, many of whom spend substantially more time in the District than at home, do not represent adequately the interests of residents of the district is absurd.”
The also argue that the bill would give residents special voter registration and voting privileges.
“In short, the Washington, D.C., Admission Act is unconstitutional, represents unsound policy, and, if allowed to take effect, would create a super-state with unrivaled power,” they conclude. “If you try to enact it and provide statehood to the District of Columbia, we will stop it.”