New Start for Statehood?

Washington Times, May 24, 1993; reprinted in Democracy and the Constitution: Landmarks of Contemporary Political Thought (AEI Press, 2006).


If all goes well — or at least as planned — the District of Columbia soon will become the state of New Columbia. The bill calling for statehood failed of adoption last year — in fact, no action was taken on it — but there is little reason to believe that it won’t succeed now that it has been introduced in the new Congress.

Who will oppose it? Not the District’s residents; a majority of them gave it their support in a special referendum. Not the city council, which is eager to become a state legislature and, to that end, has declared its readiness to write the required republican constitution. Not President Clinton; he may keep his daughter out of the District’s schools but he supports its bid for statehood. Not the District’s leadership, Jesse Jackson, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly (who may one day find herself engaged in a gubernatorial contest with her predecessor, Marion Barry) And, of course, not the Democrats; statehood for the District will give them two additional senators and one representative. All those foreign embassies now located in the District might prefer things to remain as they are, but, presumably, the grounds they occupy will, under the laws of New Columbia, retain the status they now enjoy under the laws of the United States. So why should they object?

American Enterprise Institute