Republican attorneys general from around the country came together in opposition to congressional Democrats’ efforts to make Washington, D.C. a state, sending a letter to President Biden and congressional leaders claiming that the proposed legislation is unconstitutional.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., introduced H.R. 51, also known as the Washington, D.C. Admission Act on Jan. 4. The bill calls for shrinking the independent district serving as the nation’s capital, while turning the surrounding area into a new state to be known as the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
“If this Congress passes and President Biden signs this Act into law, we will use every legal tool at our disposal to defend the United States Constitution and the rights of our states from this unlawful effort to provide statehood to the District of Columbia,” read the letter, which was signed by 22 attorneys general and obtained by Fox News.
The attorneys general argued that because Washington, D.C.’s establishment is constitutionally based, any change to the district must come in the form of a constitutional amendment — not legislation from Congress.
“Accordingly, not only does Congress lack the authority to create an entirely new state out of the District, but it also does not have the authority to reduce the size of the District to the equivalent of a few federal buildings and surrounding parks,” the letter continued.
The letter goes on to argue that besides being unconstitutional, the bill is also “bad policy.” The attorneys general claimed it would create “an elite ruling class with unparalleled power and federal access compared to the existing fifty states in the Union” and “a super-state that would have primacy over all others.”
The letter was signed by the attorneys general of South Carolina, Georga, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia, Idaho, Kansas, Arizona, and Oklahoma.
“There’s a clear reason we’re against granting statehood to D.C.,” South Carolina Attorney General Wilson said in a statement. “We’re sworn to uphold the Constitution and it would be unconstitutional to make Washington, D.C. a state. The Founding Fathers opposed statehood for the nation’s seat of government.”
The bill will be discussed at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday before an expected vote by the full House next week. The bill currently has 215 co-sponsors, all Democrats.