Home Issues Legal Analysis Statehood
Oct 04
Tuesday
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Statehood
Rep. Peter W. Rodino, Jr. on the Legality of D.C. Statehood E-mail

Rep. Peter W. Rodino, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, testified on June 11, 1986 before the House District of Columbia Committee's Subcommittee on Fiscal Affairs and Health on the legal issues raised by H.R. 325, the New Columbia Admission Act, introduced by D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy.  He specifically addressed the constitutionality of statehood for the District of Columbia, whether Maryland's consent is required, and statehood process.

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Why D.C.'s Attorney General Can't Prosecute Criminals E-mail
Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis wrote an article on "Why Irv Nathan can't prosecute D.C. officials." The reason the D.C. Attorney General lacks legal authority to prosecute ANY criminal violations, including wrongdoing by D.C. officials,  is because D.C. is not a STATE.
Because D.C. is a colony of the United States, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia has all authority for prosecuting criminal violations in D.C. Thus, Federal priorities and Federal budget and staffing limitations govern what cases the U.S. attorney prosecutes. See: http://www.justice.gov/usao/dc/. Crimes that D.C. residents may care about but which don't rise to much importance on a Federal list of priorities don't get much attention. Similarly, our court system is under the control of the Federal Government and judges for the D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals are appointed by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the Senate (in which D.C. has NO representation). Only statehood would permanently give the citizens of D.C. the same rights over their criminal justice system as every other American who is a citizen of a state.
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Pete Tucker Interviews Johnny Barnes on D.C. statehood E-mail

On April 5, 2011, District of Columbia journalist Pete Tucker interviewed Johnny Barnes, Executive Director of the ACLU-NA, on The Fight Back about the need for D.C. statehood. Mr. Barnes made an eloquent case for statehood for D.C. and said it will happen.

 

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Interview with lawyer for Adams v Clinton E-mail

On October 18, 2000, the Washington Post moderated a "Live Online" discussion with D.C. attorney George S. LaRoche, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs in Adams v. Clinton. This lawsuit challenged Congress's authority over D.C.'s legislation and finances and its depriving D.C. citizens of equal protection and their democratic rights. The Supreme Court declined to review the D.C. Circuit's decision on this case and Alexander v. Daley which sought voting representation in Congress for District residents.

LaRoche filed the lawsuit on June 30, 1998, on behalf of twenty plaintiffs. The "Adams" of the case's legal title is long-time D.C. democracy activist Lea Adams, the first listed plaintiff.  LaRoche argued that:

(1) D.C. citizens deserve equal protection under the law and are entitled to exercise the same rights and protections as other U.S. citizens.  This point made the suit a landmark rights case, like Brown v. Board of Education, Baker v. Carr, and Reynolds v. Sims.

(2) Congress must no longer exclude D.C. from the constitutional system by which the nation is governed, and that our intrinsic right to self-government must be respected.  D.C. citizens deserve to elect a state government which operates without interference from Congress in our local affairs and are entitled to elect Senators and Representatives in Congress like all citizens of a state.

(3) The court must order that no non-representative form of government may exercise power over D.C. citizens. The Federal Financial Control Board must be abolished -- unless D.C. Council, under its own authority, chooses to appoint it.

(4) No unique law or restraint which lacks national impact or rationale should be imposed on D.C. Initiative 59 (authorizing medical marijuana), which 69% of D.C. voters approved -- would become law, regardless of the objections of Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia (who introduced a rider that prohibited the District Government from spending any money on this initiative, including funds to count the votes!).  Local taxes would be spent as the elected government chooses, and no local death penalty bill could be imposed by Congress (D.C. voters have opposed the death penalty in several referendums).

In other words, D.C. citizens must be considered equal to all other citizens of the United States.  LaRoche compared our status to that of citizens in other federal enclaves, citizens in a part of D.C. retroceded to Virginia in 1846, and citizens of former continental territories (since admitted as states) -- all of whom now enjoy full rights as citizens of a state.  Instead, Congress has maintained absolute power over D.C..

Adams v. Clinton went much further than Alexander vs. Daley , which sought  "D.C. Voting Rights."  That lawsuit was filed in September, 1998 and did not seek legislative and financial autonomy, the same citizenship rights as citizens of states, or a vote on the question of statehood for the District. Statehood activist Sam Smith observed that "national suffrage has been used as a foil to suppress and delay demands for full democracy."

After hearing the Supreme Court's decision, George LaRoche noted that: "Since the [District] Court only analyzed one of the two cases before it [the D.C. Voting Rights suit], the claims and questions presented in the other [20 Citizens] remain unanswered....  Thus, as was the case in the days of slavery and as was the case in the days of peonage and segregation, the courts' silence in the face of pleas to consider challenges to the status quo is more troubling than clear and direct statements why the status quo must or may continue."

 

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Constitution of the United States (sections relevant to D.C. statehood) E-mail

Here is the text of the sections of the U.S. Constitution that apply to the District of Columbia and to achieving statehood.  Read more.

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