Since Mayor Bowser announced her statehood initiative in April, the celebratory mood has gone from one of exuberance to consternation among some statehood supporters in just a short few months. The debate over the content of the Mayor’s proposed new statehood constitution and the sequence for its ratification have caused a flurries of discontent. Now, according to council Chairman Mendelson’s office, the final statehood constitution is unlikely to be put on the ballot in November for a vote up or down. However, the language of the city’s “advisory” referendum states that D.C. voters who approve the referendum “would establish that the citizens of the District of Columbia … approve a Constitution of the State of New Columbia to be adopted by the Council…” In other words, the D.C. Council may add or subtract whatever language it likes and call it a constitution, without District residents actually knowing what’s inside when they vote to approve it in the November.
One of the Statehood Commission’s members, “Shadow” Senator Paul Strauss, stated during the convention proceedings that “we have come up with the most inclusive constitutional convention process ever devised… Literally any citizen of the District of Columbia can petition and become a delegate to this convention and weigh in. We no longer need 40 people in a room.”
What Mr. Strauss overlooks, of course, is that none of the Statehood Commission members, including the Mayor, the Chairman of the D.C. Council and the three “Shadow” representatives, were elected by D.C. citizens to represent them in this statehood convention process. The history of territorial admissions into the Union indicates that the hard, sometimes polarizing work of constitution construction is the exclusive domain of duly elected delegates to the statehood constitutional convention.
Full Article: The statehood convention that wasn’t | TheHill.