Legal Scholars Say Congress Can Make DC a State District of Columbia residents march for statehood on March 22, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
By Jeremy Frankel | Monday, 24 May 2021 08:53 PM
A group of legal scholars wrote a letter to members of Congress that indicated that, according to them, Congress has the constitutional authority to pass a law admitting Washington, D.C., as a state, even without a constitutional amendment.
The Hill reports that these 40 constitutional scholars, including Lawrence Tribe of Harvard and Larry Sabato of University of Virginia, stated in the letter that D.C. would theoretically be able to become the 51st state via congressional proclamation, as every other state has been admitted to the union since the Constitution’s ratification. The letter reportedly said that “[A]s scholars of the United States Constitution, we write to correct claims that the D.C. Admission Act is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge in the courts.”
However, even if this view were correct, passage of a D.C. statehood bill is unlikely, as the Senate would have to break a filibuster, and Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., have both stated repeatedly that they would not support such a move. The Biden administration supports the idea of D.C. statehood, but it does not have unanimous backing from Democrats and has no GOP support.
The Hill further reports that the current D.C. statehood bill being pushed by Democrats would reduce the size of the District itself to just the White House, Capitol and National Mall, while the rest of the city and surrounding suburbs would become a new state.