CONSTITUTIONALITY

D.C. statehood is constitutional and granting D.C. statehood does not require any new constitutional amendments. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the authority to admit new states, and every state that has been admitted to the Union after ratification of the Constitution in 1788 has been admitted by Congress.

 

 

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act would create a state from the residential areas of D.C. and carve out federal land–including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and other federal buildings–as a separate and distinct federal district. The federal district would be two-square miles and called the Capital. The 51st state, called the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, would have no jurisdiction over the Capital.

We know Congress has the power to reduce the size of the Capital because it has already done so. In 1848, Congress returned most of Arlington and Alexandria from D.C. to the state of Virginia.  In 1791, just four years after the Constitution was signed, Congress changed the District’s configuration.

Founding Fathers James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay always envisioned full voting rights for D.C. residents, writing in the Federalist Papers that D.C. residents “will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them.”

 

What about the 23rd Amendment?   

The 23rd Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1961 to expand voting rights and give people living in the Federal District three electoral votes for president. Making D.C. a state does not violate the 23rd Amendment—it simply makes the Federal District smaller and would leave the president and their family as the only residents of the resized Federal District. Legislation to turn D.C. into the 51st state would recommend an expedited process to review the 23rd Amendment, including the possibility of the president and their family voting in their previous home state. Whatever the policy solution is for the 23rd amendment, turning D.C. into a state does not violate it.

 

Additional resources:

Letter from scholars of the United States Constitution to the U.S. Congress on D.C. statehood, May 22, 2021

People who live in D.C. cannot achieve statehood on our own.
We need your help.

Contact your member of Congress