The Statehood Papers
Writings on DC Statehood & self-government by Sam Smith & others
1970: THE FIRST ARTICLE CALLING FOR STATEHOOD
A MEMOIR OF THE FIRST DAYS OF THE STATEHOOD PARTY
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DC DEMOCRACY & DC REPRESENTATION
DAMAGE DONE TO SELF-GOVERNMENT BY LOCAL COLONIALS
A SHORT HISTORY OF HOME RULE
209 YEARS OF THE STRUGGLE FOR SELF GOVERNMENT
WHY 'TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION' DOESN'T MEAN WHAT IT SEEMS
1972:EXCERPTS FROM THE 1972 STATEHOOD PARTY PLATFORM
AN INTERVIEW WITH SAM SMITH ON THE STATEHOOD MOVEMENT
1980: TEN YEARS OF THE STATEHOOD MOVEMENT
1985: TEN YEARS OF HOME RULE
1993: WHAT IF WE GET HOME RULE?
1995: WHO KILLED DC?
1995: THE END OF HOME RULE
2000: URBAN STATEHOOD: Why we need more states
2001: GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME A TAX CUT
BACK WHEN THE NY TIMES & WASHINGTON POST SUPPORTED STATEHOOD
CONGRESS IS NOT THE ONLY ONE TO BLAME: DAMAGE TO DEMOCRACY DONE BY LOCAL COLONIALS,TOO
1. The local establishment - including the delegate, mayor, and city council - supported the federal takeover of the city, loss of local pension fund contributions, loss of a regular federal payment, and further loss of control over the justice system.
2. Both Mayor Walter Washington and Delegate Walter Fauntroy opposed the creation of the neighborhood commissions. After the city council worked hard to weaken their powers, including denying them the right to use city funds in joint activities and the right to sue. Since then there has been a conscious effort to subsume the ANCs into the city bureaucracy rather than accepting their role as an autonomous citizen voice.
3. Led by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city establishment has chosen to devote its energies to a largely symbolic vote in the House rather than substantive democracy such as gaining control over the budget, legislation, and the justice system. Norton went so far as to suggest that we trade our democratic rights for a federal tax-free status.
4. In recent years not a single elected member of the city government - other than members of the DC Statehood Party - have lifted a finger on behalf of statehood and full self-government.
5. The city council has overridden citizen passed initiatives.
6. The mayor and city council conspired to eliminate elected positions on the school board.
7. The city government has reduced citizen access to trial by jury.
8. The city went to court and claimed that the Second Amendment did not apply to DC residents
HOW THE POST COVERS THE DC STATEHOOD GREENS
Glenn Ford, Black Agenda Report, August 2008 - In Washington, DC, the Statehood Green Party, through labor-intensive, grassroots work, has managed to garner more votes in the last several elections than the local Republican Party. That's an amazing accomplishment, given that the Statehood Greens get virtually no coverage from the Washington Post newspaper - which means little or no exposure in the corporate television media, either, since all the stations follow the Post's lead. . . The paper's congressional reporter, Paul Kane, recently slipped up and told the "brutally honest" truth about the Post's methodical manipulation of the "news." Kane claimed the Greens and Ralph Nader "got plenty of coverage" in the 2000 election, when, in his words, Nader "had a chance to play a decisive role in some states." According to Kane, "there is little indication that the Greens will have any major impact on the '08 election." Then Kane declared, "Until you [Greens] demonstrate that there is some level of support for your party, our paper isn't going to spend precious resources reporting on whatever it is you're doing." . . . The Washington Post won't even cover the Greens in DC, where they are second to the Democrats in voter appeal.
EXCERPTS FROM THE 1972 DC STATEHOOD PARTY PLATFORM
Neighborhood authorities and neighborhood housing banks
Public ownership of all center city land & of key commecial strips
Community ownership and development of Fort Lincoln
Urban rehabilitation over urban renewal
Elected neighborhood legislative councils and neighborhood executives with power over selection of neighborhood police officials, selection of neighborhood school superintendent, school site selection and proposed roads.
Extended voting over several days
A property tax that includes not only real estate but other property such as stocks and bonds
The taxation of income-producing property of non-profit organizations and churches
Encouragement of light, smokeless industry
Low rent facilities in new commercial centers for small businesses
Enclosed and open stalls for artisans, craftsmen and other small operators.
The end of the forced displacement of small business.
The contruction of public markets
The conversion of banks and public utilities to cooperatives.
A national guaranteed income
Ownership of liquor stores by neighborhood cooperatives
Conversion of the correctional system from a punitive to a rehablitative one
Legalization of gambling, prostitution, marijuana use and drug addiction.
A massive expansion of drug treatment programs
Community hiring and firing of district police commanders
Division of police into a uniformed crime-fighting force and a neighorhood constabulary
The recruitment of lawyers into the police department at the level of captain and above
No more parking lots downtown
Creation of jitney service
Public ownership and fare subsidy of the transit system
Opposition to ownership by suburban-dominated Metro
Serious consideration of monorails, personal transit systems, and streetcars
Community control of the schools
The immediate withdrawal of all forces form Indochina
Strongest measures to end pollution in all its forms
Free health care for all citizens
Free abortions on demand
Opposition to discrimination against blacks, women, homosexuals, chicanos, Asians and other ethnic minorities, men in the case of laws relating to alimony, the mentally or physically handicapped, and ex-felons in the denial of right to participate politically
Equal wages for equal work
Maternity and paternity leave with pay
Cooperative control of cable television
Youth representation on legislative and other governing councils
Creation of an equal service commission to ensure equal distribution of public services throughout the city
Ward balance in capital improvements and government personnel
Varied curriculum, services and teaching methods in the schools
An environmental commission or court with the power to halt or alter projects and prctices detrimental to the environment
BACK WHEN THE NY TIMES & WASHINGTON POST SUPPORTED STATEHOOD
Washington Post editorial, Jan 13, 1993 - It is time to right a great historic wrong. Since 1800, the residents of Washington, D.C., have been the only tax paying U.S. citizens denied representation in Congress. With the election of Bill Clinton, it has become politically possible to give them the status that is their due. We believe now is the time to begin defining an then putting in place an arrangement that puts District residents on an equal footing with all Americans.
It has long been our preference to have this city remain the seat of the national government with increased municipal powers, which, taken as whole, would give residents the same democratic rights enjoyed by other citizens. The goals have included full voting representation in the House and the Senate, complete independence from Congress on budget and legislative matters, control over the local court system including the appointment of judges, an automatic and predictable federal payment formula and the ability to negotiate reciprocal income tax arrangements with neighboring jurisdictions. Achieving each, as a strategy was far more important than what the final package ended up being called. As a step toward that end, Congress passed a proposed constitutional amendment 15 years ago that would have given the city full congressional representation. Only 16 of the required 38 states ratified the proposal, mostly for partisan reasons. Republican lawmakers wanted no more democrats in Congress (and, as some suspect, many legislators wanted no more blacks there as well). The only achievable alternative, if citizens here are to enjoy the full political participation that is there due, is statehood. . .
Denying District residents the right to send people to Congress who can vote on taxes or decide questions of war and peace while at the same time expecting them to shoulder the burdens of citizenship--including the obligation to pay taxes and to fight and die for their country--is wrong. Forcing local officials to perform their duties under today's restrictive conditions is no better. . .
Congress at its whim passes laws regulating purely local matters, including the spending of local tax money. Even the city's own elected delegate to the House of Representatives can't vote on final passage of any legislation, including District-only matters. . .
Statehood opponents argue that the voteless status of the District descends directly form the intent of the Framers of the Constitution-from Washington, Madison and their peers. True, the constitution calls for a federal district (and the statehood proposal allows for one, leaving the `federal seat of government' to consist of the mall, monuments and principal U.S. government buildings). At the same time the government of the United States moved here in 1800, the largest city, New York, had a population of little more than 60,000. What would Washington and Madison say about a voteless city 10 times larger than that? We know what they said in 1776 in behalf of a colonist population only four times larger that today's Washington, D.C. They wanted to be among those who governed themselves. So do the citizens of Washington today. . .
New York Times, November 25, 1991 - The effort to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., could well become a campaign issue in 1992. A bill that would admit the District to the Union as New Columbia, the 51st state, was introduced in the Senate. And hearings on the House version of the bill saw a welcome burst of enthusiasm. Three Democratic Presidential candidates testified in favor of statehood and others sent messages of support.
That's as it should be. The District's treatment is a scandal, albeit one with a long history. The Federal Government runs the city like a plantation, denying it a voting representative in Congress, forbidding it even rudimentary self-rule and limiting severely its ability to raise revenue.
President Bush favors keeping the District on its knees. But Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, Gov. Douglas Wilder of Virginia and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa testified before Congress that the District deserved to become a full partner in the Union. The three were on the mark.
Washingtonians have long been denied rights that the rest of us take for granted. They weren't allowed to vote in Presidential elections until 1964. And it was not until the Home Rule Act of 1973 that they could elect a mayor and city council; both had previously been appointed.
The Home Rule Act left the Federal Government's dictatorial powers intact. Congress can overturn any law the District council passes. A powerful senator can throw some cash to friends by attaching amendments to the city's budget bill. And one meddlesome Congressman can by himself trigger bearings on any law by simply raising an objection to it.
The Federal Government is not above extortion. Mr. Bush recently vetoed the city budget, forcing the District to ban the use of locally raised tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. And Congress used similar blackmail to force repeal of a law that made gun dealers and manufacturers liable for injuries from assault weapons. The citizens have reinstated the measure; gun-lobbying senators may yet thwart it. The District's non-voting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, spends much of her time fending off odious infringements like these.
Fiscal restrictions abound. The Federal Government's real estate is exempt from taxation; the city is forbidden to tax the earnings of commuters, most of whom are Federal employees. District officials say these restrictions cause the city to forgo $1.9 billion in revenues per year. Last year the Federal Government paid a paltry $430 million in return. Denied sources of revenue, the city levies some of the highest taxes in the nation.
Those who oppose statehood typically offer weak constitutional arguments against it. It seems fairly clear, however, that Republicans who oppose statehood do so because the District would send two more Democrats to the Senate.
But most Americans understand democracy well. The issue of statehood for the District raises an obvious question: How can we justify championing democracy abroad while inflicting second-class citizenship in the nation's capital? The answer is obvious, too: We can't.
GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON
CITY DESK has attempted futilely from time to time to point out that the slogan on our city license plates is not a demand for freedom but rather one in support of a slight modification of the colonial system existing prior to the revolution. It fell far short, for example, of Patrick Henry's demand of "give me liberty or give me death" as it basically called for token representation in Parliament rather than granting the colonies control over their own affairs. It was a puny slogan devised by members of the colonial Massachusetts equivalent of our Board of Trade with little to do with the eventual demands of the colonies as laid out in the Declaration of Independence.
Now we have learned that this division in the colonies - reflected locally today by the views of the DC Statehood Greens vs. DC Vote - went back even earlier. In 1754, Benjamin Franklin attempted to use a conference on relations with the Indians to foster the idea of a colonial union that would have significant control over its own business. His demand was get the colonies on a par with the rest of England, remarking that "It is supposed an undoubted right of Englishmen not to be taxed but by their own consent given through their own representatives."
Note that he was not talking about token representation in Congress a la Eleanor Holmes Norton but real local power. The reaction of the colonial governor of Massachusetts was to make a counter offer diluting the number and power of the colonies' representatives on the proposed Grand Council. Governor Shirley then proposed a little sweetener - representation in Parliament. Franklin said the idea was a good one provided the colonies had enough representatives and that all acts of Parliament restricting trade in the colonies be repealed. Writes HW Brand in the 'First American,' "Needless to say, this proviso severely diminished the appeal to Parliament of Shirley's suggestion. What was the point of having colonies if not to be able to discriminate against them in trade, manufacture, or otherwise? Franklin knew this."
Nothing came of the Albany plan, but it is clear that Ben Franklin, had he been alive today, would have sought something better for his license plate than the a request for token representation in the national legislature without any real power. We are fortunate, however, that he was instead alive at the time of the Declaration of Independence. If Eleanor Norton, DC Vote, and Mark Plotkin had been in charge, we would still be a British colony.
209 Years of the District of Columbia's Efforts to Restore Self-Government
1788 The General Assembly of the State of Maryland authorizes the cession of territory for the seat of government of the United States, "acknowledged to be forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, and full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution... And provided also, That the jurisdiction of the laws of this State over the persons and property of individuals residing within the limits of the cession aforesaid shall not cease or determine until Congress shall, by law, provide for the government thereof, under their jurisdiction, in manner provided by the article of the Constitution before recited." The Maryland Assembly passes supplementary acts of cession in 1792 and 1793 regarding the validity of deeds and sale of property in the new capital.
1789 The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia authorizes the cession of territory for the permanent seat of the General Government as Congress might by law direct and that the same "was thereby forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, in full and absolute right, and exclusive jurisdiction...." Like Maryland, Virginia's act of cession provides that Virginia law shall continue to apply until Congress, "having accepted the said cession, shall, by law, provide for the government thereof, under their jurisdiction, in manner provided by the articles of the Constitution before recited" (District clause).
1790 Congress accepts the territory ceded by the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia to form the Seat of Government of the United States and declares that on the first Monday in December 1800 the Seat of Government of the United States shall be transferred to such district and authorizes the President to appoint three commissioners to survey and purchase land and prepare it for the new government which is to take up residence on the first Monday in December 1800.
1791 President George Washington issues several presidential proclamations defining and fixing the boundaries of the new District.
1790-1800 Qualified residents of the new District of Columbia continue to vote in elections of federal officers conducted in Maryland and Virginia, including Representatives in Congress, even though Maryland and Virginia ceded the land to the Federal government and the District's boundaries had been drawn.
1800 The Seat of Government of the United States is transferred to the new District of Columbia.
1801 A lame duck Congress passes the Organic Act of 1801 on Feb. 27, 1801 and divides the District into two counties, the county of Washington (Maryland cession) and the county of Alexandria (Virginia cession). The act creates a circuit court for the District of Columbia, authorizes the appointment of a U.S. Attorney, marshals, justices of the peace, and a register of wills for the District. It also provides that the act shall not "alter, impeach or impair the rights, granted by or derived from the acts of incorporation of Alexandria and Georgetown [incorporated cities in Virginia and Maryland prior to cession]. No longer in a state, D.C. residents lose their state and national representation (Senators were then elected by state legislatures) and their local self-determination to the extent they do not live in the two incorporated cities.
1802 Congress abolishes the board of commissioners and incorporates the City of Washington (formerly in the County of Washington) with a presidentially appointed mayor and a popularly elected council of 12 members with two chambers, one with seven members and the second with five members, the second chamber to be chosen by all the members elected. All acts of the council must be sent to the Mayor for his approval. Suffrage is limited to "free, white male inhabitants of full age, who have resided twelve months in the city and paid taxes therein the year preceding the election's being held."
1804 Congress extends the 1802 charter 15 years and provides for the direct election of both houses of the Council, each with nine members.
1812 Congress amends the charter of the City of Washington to enlarge the council, now consisting of an elected board of aldermen (8 members) and an elected board of common council (12 members). The Mayor is to be elected by the two boards in a joint meeting. Congress also expands the corporation's taxing authority and authority to develop public institutions, although subject to the approval of the President (including the budget) since the Mayor will no longer be a Presidential appointee.
1812 Congress confers certain powers upon a levy court or board of commissioners for the County of Washington (part of Maryland cession not included in the city of Washington) primarily dealing with taxes for public improvements such as roads and bridges. The board has seven members designated by the President from existing magistrates in the county.
1820 Congress repeals the 1802 and 1804 acts and reorganizes the government of the City of Washington by providing for a popularly elected Mayor. Existing elected council continued.
1822 A Committee of Twelve, appointed "pursuant to a resolution of a meeting of the Inhabitants of the City of Washington," requests from Congress a republican form of government and the right to sue and to have federal representation "equal to citizens who live in States." "The committee confess that they can discover but two modes in which the desired relief can be afforded, either by the establishment of a territorial government, suited to their present condition and population, and restoring them, in every part of the nation to the equal rights enjoyed by the citizens of the other portions of the United States, or by a retrocession to the states of Virginia and Maryland, of the respective parts of the District which were originally ceded by those states to form it." Washington City residents were not interested in retrocession, however.
1825 On December 28, a Committee of Thirteen sends a ten-page Memorial to Congress "praying for an amelioration of their civil and political condition" and said they should be treated at least as well as territories.
1841 In his inaugural address, President William Henry Harrison says "Amongest the other duties of a delicate character which the President is called upon to perform is the supervision of the government of the Territories of the United States. Those of them which are destined to become members of our great political family are compensated by their rapid progress from infancy to manhood for the partial and temporary deprivation of their political rights. It is in this District only where American citizens are to be found who under a settled policy are deprived of many important political privileges without any inspiring hope as to the future. ... Are there, indeed, citizens of any of our States who have dreamed of their subjects in the District of Columbia? ... The people of the District of Columbia are not the subjects of the people of the States, but free American citizens. Being in the latter condition when the Constitution was formed, no words used in that instrument could have been intended to deprive them of that character."
1846 Congress, the Virginia Legislature and the City of Alexandria approve the retrocession of the county and town of Alexandria (what is now Arlington County and the City of Alexandria) back to Virginia, decreasing the size of D.C. by about 40%. The referendum on retrocession passes 763 for to 222 against. Residents of Alexandria City approve the retrocession (734 for to 116 against), while residents of Alexandria County, disapprove it (29 for to 106 against).
1848 Congress reorganizes the government of the City of Washington, approving a new charter that allows voters to elect the Board of Assessors, the Register of Wills, the Collector, and the Surveyor. It abolishes the property qualifications for voting and extends voting rights to all white male voters who pay a one dollar yearly school tax.
1850 Congress ends the slave trade in D.C.
1862 Congress abolishes slavery in D.C. (on April 16th, "Emancipation Day," nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation is issued) and establishes a school system for black residents.
1867 Congress grants the vote to every male person "without any distinction on account of color or race" who is not a pauper or under guardianship, is twenty-one or older, who has not been convicted of any infamous crime and has not voluntarily given "aid and comfort to the rebels in that late rebellion," and who has resided in the District for one year and three months in his ward. African Americans make up 33% of the District's population and wield considerable political power.
1871 Congress repeals the charters of the cities of Washington and Georgetown and creates the Territory of the District of Columbia. The Territory will have a Presidentially appointed Governor and Secretary to the District, subject to Senate confirmation, a bicameral legislature with a Presidentially appointed upper house and Board of Public Works, both subject to Senate confirmation, and a popularly elected 22 seat House of Delegates, and a nonvoting Delegate to the House of Representatives. Norton P. Chipman is D.C.'s first nonvoting Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. However, D.C. voters lose the right to elect its executive and the upper house of its legislature.
1874 Congress removes all elected Territorial officials, including the nonvoting Delegate in Congress, temporarily replaces the Territorial government with three Presidentially appointed commissioners and places an officer of the Army Corps of Engineers in charge, under the general supervision and direction of the commissioners, of public works in the District. The First and Second Comptroller of the Treasury are appointed to a board of audit to audit the Board of Public Works and Territorial Government's financial affairs.
1878 Congress passes the Organic Act of 1878 which declares that the territory ceded by the State of Maryland to Congress for the permanent seat of government of the United States shall continue to be the District of Columbia and a municipal corporation with three Presidentially appointed commissioners, one of whom shall be an officer of the Army Corps of Engineers, as officers of the corporation. The board of the metropolitan police, the board of school trustees, the offices of the sinking-fund commissioners, and the board of health are abolished and their duties and powers transferred to the Commissioners. The Commissioners' proposed annual budget must be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury and by Congress. The federal payment is fifty percent of the budget Congress approves. Congress must also approve any public works contract over $1,000.
1888 Conservative newspaperman Theodore Noyes of The Washington Star launches campaign for congressional representation and strongly opposes real democracy. Noyes writes, "National representation for the capital community is not in the slightest degree inconsistent with control of the capital by the nation through Congress." Sen. Henry Blair of New Hampshire introduces the first resolution for a constitutional amendment for D.C. voting rights in Congress and in the Electoral College, which fails to pass.
1899 A political scientist describes the Board of Trade-which supports congressional voting rights only-as providing D.C. with the ideal form of local government through a "representative aristocracy."
1919 Congress reduces the federal payment to forty percent. The Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce advocate congressional voting rights and oppose home rule.
1925 Congress abandons a fixed percentage federal payment and gives the commissioners authority to raise local taxes.
1935 The California legislature passes a resolution recommending Congress amend the Constitution to grant D.C. representation in Congress.
1940 Congress grants District residents the same access to federal courts as that available to residents of the states (diversity jurisdiction). The Supreme Court, in National Mut. Ins. Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., Inc., 337 U.S. 582 (1949), upholds that act.
1943 Board of Trade appears before Senate Committee to support representation in Congress but opposes local self-government.
1952 President Truman transmits Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952 to Congress to streamline the District's government by transferring over 50 boards and commissions to the Commissioners. When transmitting the plan to Congress, he states "I strongly believe that the citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to self-government. I have repeatedly recommended, and I again recommend, enactment of legislation to provide home rule for the District of Columbia. Local self-government is both the right and the responsibility of free men. The denial of self-government does not befit the National Capital of the world's largest and most powerful democracy. Not only is the lack of self-government an injustice to the people of the District of Columbia, but it imposes a needless burden on the Congress and it tends to controvert the principles for which this country stands before the world."
1960's Segregationist Rep. John McMillan favors a D.C. vote for president and vice president, says a struggle for home rule will cripple the campaign for the national vote. McMillan thinks the national vote should "satisfy" DC residents "at least for a while."
1961 23rd Amendment to the Constitution that gives D.C. a limited vote in the electoral college is ratified.
1964 D.C. voters vote for the first time for President since the creation of the District in 1800, but only get "three fourths" of a vote since D.C. is limited to three electoral votes regardless of its population, which at the time would have merited two seats in the House.
1967 Thinking he might reduce tensions in D.C. and prevent riots like those occurring in other U.S. cities, President Lyndon Johnson transmits Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 to Congress. It creates a Presidentially appointed Council of nine members and a Presidentially appointed Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of the District of Columbia (Mayor and Deputy Mayor equivalents), eliminating the office held by an officer of the Corps of Engineers. He notes that the commissioner form of government was designed for a city of 150,000 people and that "(t)oday Washington has a population of 800,000. ... I remain convinced more strongly than ever the Home Rule is still the truest course. We must continue to work toward that day - when the citizens of the District will have the right to frame their own laws, manage their own affairs, and choose their own leaders. Only then can we redeem that historic pledge to give the District of Columbia full membership in the American Union." He appoints Walter Washington "Mayor" and Thomas Fletcher "Deputy Mayor" and John Hechinger as Council Chairman.
1968 Congress authorizes an elected school board and D.C. residents vote for school board members, their first vote for any local body since the territorial government was dissolved in 1874.
1970 Congress passes a law authorizing a nonvoting delegate in House of Representatives for D.C. (the first since 1874). D.C. Statehood Party is formed with Julius Hobson its first candidate for nonvoting Delegate.
1971 D.C. voters elect Walter Fauntroy as their second nonvoting Delegate to House of Representatives.
1973 Congress passes the D.C. Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act (Home Rule Act) providing for an elected Mayor, 13 member Council and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and delegating certain powers to the new government, subject to Congressional oversight and veto. The new government is prohibited from taxing Federal property and nonresident income and from changing the Federal building height limitation, altering the court system or changing the criminal code until 1977. Congress retains a legislative veto over Council actions and must approve the District's budget. All District judges are Presidential appointees. A "floating" federal payment is retained. Planning and zoning are governed by a mixture of District and Federal agencies.
1974 D.C. voters elect Walter Washington as their first elected Mayor since 1870 and their first elected Council, headed by Chairman Sterling Tucker, since 1874.
1978 Congress amends the Home Rule Act to add recall, initiative and referendum provisions and makes a number of changes address the problems of delay and federal intrusions into purely local decisions.
1978 Congress passes a Constitutional amendment to give D.C. full Congressional voting rights (two Senators and Representatives) and full representation in the Electoral College. The states have seven years to ratify it.
1979 An initiative to hold a Statehood Constitutional Convention is filed. Congress rejects the Council's bill on the location of chanceries, an example of the Federal interference in local land use decisions.
1980 D.C. voters overwhelmingly approve the initiative to hold a Statehood Constitutional Convention.
1981 D.C. voters elect 45 delegates to the Statehood Constitutional Convention. Congress rejects the Council's revision to the D.C. sexual assault law.
1982 The convention, of which D.C. statehood activist Charles Cassell is elected President, completes its work in three months. In November, D.C. voters approve a statehood constitution for the State of New Columbia and electing two "Shadow" Senators and a Representative to promote statehood (the latter not implemented until 1990).
1983 A petition for statehood, including the 1982 constitution ratified by the voters, is sent to Congress, where no action is taken on it.
1985 The 1978 constitutional voting rights amendment dies after only 16 states ratify it.
1987 The D.C. Council revises the Constitution for the State of New Columbia and transmits it to both Houses of Congress.
1990 D.C. residents elect their first statehood senators and representative. The positions were first authorized in 1982 when the statehood constitution was approved.
1992 The House of Representatives, with a new Democratic majority, grants a limited vote in the Committee of the Whole to the D.C. Delegate.
1993 The House District Committee favorably reports a statehood bill out of committee; in first full House vote on statehood ever, but it fails (153 to 277).
1995 The D.C. Delegate's vote in the House Committee of the Whole is revoked. Congress authorizes the President to appoint the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Control Board), which replaces the elected school board with an appointed board. The law also creates the Office of Chief Financial Officer for the District of Columbia.
1997 Congress strengthens the Control Board by giving it total control over D.C.'s courts, prisons and pension liabilities (much of that $5 billion in unfunded liabilities is from the pre-Home Rule era), increased control over Medicaid and removes nine D.C. agencies from the Mayor's authority. The Federal Payment provisions are repealed. Locally elected officials can regain authority after four consecutive balanced budgets.
1998 D.C. voters vote on a medical marijuana initiative (Initiative 59), but the Barr Amendment prohibits spending money to even count the ballots. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts rules in 1999 that ballots can be counted (69% of the voters favored the initiative), but Congressional riders prohibit implementing the initiative.
1998 Twenty D.C. citizens (Adams v. Clinton) sue the President, the Clerk and Sergeant At Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Control Board seeking declaratory judgments and injunctions to redress their deprivation of their democratic right (1) to equal protection or "the right to stand on an equal footing with all other citizens of the United States," (2) to enjoy republican forms of government, (3) to be apportioned into congressional districts and be represented by duly elected representatives and Senators in Congress, and (4) to participate through duly elected representatives in a state government insulated from Congressional interference in matters properly with the exclusive competence of state governments under the 10th Amendment.
1998 Another lawsuit, Alexander v. Daley, is filed by 57 District residents and the District government against the Secretary of Commerce, the Clerk and Sergeant of Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Secretary and Sergeant of Arms of the U.S. Senate alleging violations of their equal protection and due process rights and privileges of citizenship and seeking voting representation in both houses of Congress.
1999 President Bill Clinton vetoes H.R. 2587, the "District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2000" because it contains numerous riders that "are unwarranted intrusions into local citizens' decisions about local matters." Specifically, the bill prohibits (1) the use of Federal AND District funds for petition drives or civil actions for voting representation in Congress; (2) limits access to representation in special education cases; (3) prohibits the use of Federal AND District funds for abortions except where the mother's life was in danger or in cases of rape or incest; (4) prohibits the use of Federal AND District funds to implement or enforce a Domestic Partners Act; (5) prohibits the use of Federal AND District funds for a needle exchange program and District funding of any entity, public OR private that has a needle exchange program, even if funded privately; (6) prohibits the D.C. Council from legislating regarding controlled substances in a manner that any state could do; and (7) limits the salary that could be paid to D.C. Council Members.
2000 A three judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in the consolidated lawsuit of Adams v. Clinton and Alexander v. Daley, finds it has authority to only rule on the issue of apportionment and representation in the House and holds that inhabitants of the District are not unconstitutionally deprived of their right to vote for voting representation in the House. The court remands the issues of voting representation in the Senate and Adams' challenge to the existence of the Control Board to the single District Judge with whom the cases were originally filed, and that judge dismisses both claims. Adams' claim regarding the right to an elected state government insulated from Congressional interference is not directly addressed. In his dissent, Judge Louis Oberdorfer finds the people of the District of Columbia are entitled to elect members of the U.S. House.
2000 A D.C. Superior Court jury finds statehood activists Anise Jenkins and Karen Szulgit not guilty of "Disruption of Congress" when they spoke out on July 29, 1999 in the House of Representatives against passage of the Barr Amendment that prohibited the implementation of D.C. Initiative 59. Ben Armfield was acquitted of a similar charge earlier in the year. Ms. Szulgit reflected on their 7-month ordeal saying: "Freedom isn't free. I look forward to the day when we stand together -- all the D.C. democracy advocates, our locally elected officials, and every member of Congress -- and finally address the unfinished business of the civil rights movement."
2000 On the 40th anniversary of the founding of SNCC, the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee (UPAC), of which James Foreman is president, petitions Congress to "grant immediate Statehood to the majority part of the District of Columbia."
2001 The D.C. Democracy 7 are acquitted. They were arrested on July 26, 2000 for "Disruption of Congress" in the House of Representatives Visitors' Gallery for allegedly chanting "D.C. Votes No! Free D.C.!" during a Congressional vote on the D.C. Appropriations Bill. Their first trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial.
2001 The Control Board officially suspends its operations and transfers home rule authority back to the elected Mayor and Council (although upon certain conditions occurring, the Control Board can be reactivated in the future).
2001 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) rules on a 1993 charge brought by the Statehood Solidarity Committee and finds that the denial to D.C. citizens of equal political participation in their national legislature and the right to equality before the law is a violation of their human rights.
2002 At the Second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the D.C. Statehood Green Party presents a petition calling for statehood, democracy, and full rights under the U.S. Constitution for residents of the District of Columbia.
2004 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issues a report finding that the United States Government violates District residents' rights by denying them participation in their federal legislature.
2004 The demand for D.C. statehood is dropped from the Democratic Party platform at the suggestion of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, vice-chair of the DNC Platform Committee.
2005 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) passes a resolution calling on Congress to support equal voting rights legislation for D.C. residents.
2005 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia holds in Banner v. United States that in prohibiting a commuter tax on nonresidents working in the District, Congress was merely exercising the power that "the legislature of a State might exercise within the State" and does not violate the equal protection or the Uniformity Clause of the Constitution.
2006 The U.N. Human Rights Committee finds that D.C.'s lack of voting representation in Congress violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty ratified by more than 160 countries, including the United States.
2007 The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office of Democratic Institution and Human Rights finds D.C.'s lack of equal congressional voting rights inconsistent with United States' human rights commitments under the OSCE Charter.
2008 D.C. statehood continues to be missing from the Democratic Party platform.
2009 Congress considers granting D.C. a vote in the House of Representatives; extraneous gun rights amendments threaten to kill the bill. Despite having a Democratically controlled House and Senate, an amendment that would prohibit the District from providing money to any needle exchange program that operates within 1,000 feet of virtually any location where children gather is added to the House version of its 2010 appropriation bill.
2009 The D.C. Council creates a new Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination chaired by Council Member Michael A. Brown. The Committee begins an extensive series of hearings on statehood and its ramifications. Led by Council Chair Vincent Gray, nine members of the D.C. Council attend the 2009 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Philadelphia and promote statehood.
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...." Preamble, Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776