A while ago, I wrote about the U.S. mainland colony’s attempt to gain statehood through the “Tennessee option”:
Aides to Bowser said a broader push for statehood would follow a process known as the “Tennessee model.” When Tennessee was admitted to the union as the 16th state, it was a federal territory, much like the nation’s capital. Congress agreed to allow Tennessee to become a state without ratification by the existing states. Instead, it required a vote of residents in the territory to approve a state constitution and a pledge to form a republic-style government.
Bowser’s administration has been working to update a constitution approved by D.C. voters in 1982 for just such a state. That petition, submitted by then-Mayor Marion Barry, was ignored by Congress.
If it was allowable for Tennessee, then it should be allowed for the District. Keep in mind, this doesn’t overturn Congress’ constitutional ability to overturn D.C. laws, but personally, I’m alright with that. As long as there are senators who can keep federal agencies off our backs (looking at you Transportation Secretary Foxx), then we’re doing pretty well.
So, some thoughts on the proposed constitution. Overall, it preserves the current governing structure of the District (it would be a bit ridiculous to add dozens of elected officials), including the Area Neighborhood Councils. But there are some problems. The second amendment of the Bill of Rights (in the New Columbia constitution) reads:
II. Right to keep and bear arms
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
This is fucking nuts. Not only is it not clear what the Second Amendment (in the U.S. Constitution) means, but D.C. overwhelming favors gun control. Why on earth would this be in New Columbia’s constitution? This needs to go away.
At the same time, there are no guarantees about housing, education, or jobs (which the 1982 proposed constitution had). Other states do have amendments for education, and they have been very useful in protecting students from budget cuts. These amendments need to be added.
There’s one other weirdness: councilmen (now “Delegates”) can be removed by a 5/6 proportion vote (ten of the twelve delegates), but the mayor (“governor”) can not be impeached (though any official is automatically removed if convicted of a felony). The delegates should be able to impeach the governor.
Again, as I noted above, this wouldn’t prevent Congress from mucking about in D.C’s business, but at least we would have senators and a congressman who could fight back. And this would be good for the country: with so many rural states, it’s time for an urban one.