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Statehood Greens: The Davis bill for a D.C. seat in Congress is unconstitutional, will backfire against DC residents who seek democracy

Contact: Scott McLarty, DC Statehood Green Party Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, mclarty@greens.org


Statehood Greens: The Davis bill for a D.C. seat in Congress is unconstitutional, will backfire against D.C. residents who seek democracy

? A lone voting seat makes D.C. residents 1/3 citizens, recalling African Americans' 3/5 status under slavery

? Only statehood will afford D.C. residents full citizenship and real democracy, say Statehood Greens

? H.R. 5388 will give Republicans a new Electoral College vote, because of new House seat for Utah

? Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition joins DC Statehood Green Party in endorsing November as 'Statehood for D.C. Now Month'


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- DC Statehood Green Party leaders warned that a bill to grant the District of Columbia a single voting seat in the U.S. House of Representatives may backfire against D.C. residents who seek democracy and full constitutional rights.

The Davis bill (H.R. 5388), which has gained support in Congress since Democrats won a majority in the 2006 general election, would also give Utah another seat in the House.

"The Davis bill is unconstitutional, because Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution affords voting seats in Congress solely to states," said Anne Anderson, party member and long-time activist for D.C. statehood. "If the bill passes in the House, it may be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or by a future Congress on the basis of the Constitution. If that happens, Congress will be reluctant to consider any kind of expanded democracy for the people of D.C. for decades to come. The Davis bill is a trap that may result in further denial of our rights."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley recently called H.R. 5388 "flagrantly unconstitutional".

Statehood Greens noted that a decision by the U.S. District Court for D.C. in 2000 (Daley v. Alexander) upheld the constitutional restriction: "We conclude from our analysis of the text that the Constitution does not contemplate that the District may serve as a state for purposes of the apportionment of congressional representatives." The ruling went unchallenged by the Supreme Court.

"The Court will not overturn an Act of Congress that allows D.C. to become a state," said Chris Otten, Statehood Green candidate for Mayor of Washington, D.C. in the 2006 election. "The people of Washington, D.C. deserve full citizenship, self-determination, and self-government, like all other Americans. We'll only get these things when we get statehood for D.C."

Statehood Greens recently participated in a 'teach-in' organized by the Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition on the Davis bill and its implications for D.C. democracy. The event, which took place November 18, featured a panel that included Joyce Robinson-Paul, former Statehood Green candidate for the U.S. Senate (the 'shadow' seat), and Sam Jordan, former chair of the DC Statehood Party before it merged with the local Green Party.

Earlier this month, the Statehood Green Party passed a resolution declaring November 'Statehood for D.C. Now Month,' which has also been endorsed by the Stand Up! Coalition.

"H.R. 5388 is an insult to D.C. residents who wish for real democracy," said Ms. Robinson-Paul, who placed D.C. statehood at the top of her campaign issues in the 2006 election. "Other Americans enjoy two Senators and a Representative. A lone voting Representative thus makes us 1/3 citizens -- which recalls the status of African Americans living in slavery as 3/5 citizens for purposes of voting apportionment in Congress. Furthermore, the Davis bill does nothing to reverse control by Congress and the White House over D.C. laws, policies, and finances. Until we win statehood, the District of Columbia will remain America's 'last plantation.'"

Statehood Greens also warned that H.R. 5388 will increase the power of Republicans in the Electoral College, since the number of electors for each state is equal to the number of Representatives in the U.S. House. Because the bill also gives Utah, an overwhelmingly Republican state, a new voting seat in the House, Republicans will gain an extra Electoral College vote, while Democrats will keep the same number. D.C. already has three (Democratic) electors and will not gain a new one.

DC Statehood Green Party leaders have argued that statehood would be easier to achieve, requiring a simple majority in Congress, than a constitutional amendment for voting rights in Congress, and that statehood would give D.C. residents full voting representation in the U.S. House and Senate instead of a single seat in the House.

? To read the D.C. Statehood Green Party's testimony submitted to a congressional hearing on H.R. 5388 on September 14, 2006, click here.

? For a history of the movement for D.C. democracy, including efforts to use voting rights in Congress to undermine progress towards statehood, read "The D.C. Statehood Papers: Writings on D.C. Statehood & self-government" by Sam Smith.

? To read legal arguments for statehood, visit "Twenty D.C. Citizens Lawsuit: The case for full democracy and equality".


MORE INFORMATION

The DC Statehood Green Party


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