This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article on Chronicling America. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.
Senator Gallinger’s Statehood Bill – Arizona Silver Belt, Globe City, December 11, 1902
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Scan & Text of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution
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Scan of the 23rd Amendment from the National Archives
AT THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington, the sixth day of January, on thousand nine hundred and sixty
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States granting representation in the electoral college to the District of Columbia
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is hereby proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution only if ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress:
“Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such a manner as the Congress may direct:
“A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
“Sec. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Map of the Ratification of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution
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The 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution allows residents of the District of Columbia to vote for the President, but denies them any representation in Congress.
The Twenty-third Amendment was sent to the States on June 17, 1960 and was ratified by 3/4’s of the State Legislatures on March 29, 1961, which was faster than the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment.
The following states ratified the amendment:
1. Hawaii (June 23, 1960)
2. Massachusetts (August 22, 1960)
3. New Jersey (December 19, 1960)
4. New York (January 17, 1961)
5. California (January 19, 1961)
6. Oregon (January 27, 1961)
7. Maryland (January 30, 1961)
8. Idaho (January 31, 1961)
9. Maine (January 31, 1961)
10. Minnesota (January 31, 1961)
11. New Mexico (February 1, 1961)
12. Nevada (February 2, 1961)
13. Montana (February 6, 1961)
14. South Dakota (February 6, 1961)
15. Colorado (February 8, 1961)
16. Washington (February 9, 1961)
17. West Virginia (February 9, 1961)
18. Alaska (February 10, 1961)
19. Wyoming (February 13, 1961)
20. Delaware (February 20, 1961)
21. Utah (February 21, 1961)
22. Wisconsin (February 21, 1961)
23. Pennsylvania (February 28, 1961)
24. Indiana (March 3, 1961)
25. North Dakota (March 3, 1961)
26. Tennessee (March 6, 1961)
27. Michigan (March 8, 1961)
28. Connecticut (March 9, 1961)
29. Arizona (March 10, 1961)
30. Illinois (March 14, 1961)
31. Nebraska (March 15, 1961)
32. Vermont (March 15, 1961)
33. Iowa (March 16, 1961)
34. Missouri (March 20, 1961)
35. Oklahoma (March 21, 1961)
36. Rhode Island (March 22, 1961)
37. Kansas (March 29, 1961)
38. Ohio (March 29, 1961)
The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:
1. New Hampshire (March 30, 1961)
2. Alabama (April 16, 2002)
The New Hampshire ratification was somewhat irregular; a vote for ratification was taken on March 29, 1961 but was immediately rescinded. On that same day Kansas and Ohio ratified the amendment making New Hampshire’s second vote that was taken on the following day unnecessary for enactment.
The amendment was rejected by the following state:
1. Arkansas (January 24, 1961)
The following states have not ratified the amendment:
5. South Carolina
8. North Carolina
TO ASK FULL PRIVILEGES IN D.C. SUFFRAGE by Bill Price – The Washington Times, April 10, 1919
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TO ASK FULL PRIVILEGES IN D.C. SUFFRAGE – Pleas For Mouthful Portions of Justice Give Way to Demand For Full Meal. By Bill Price, The Washington Times, April 10, 1919
A number of leading officials of citizens’ associations who have been discussing this subject recently in the light of the strongly developing sentiment in Congress for suffrage here have about come to the conclusion that Congress should be asked grant full voting privileges except in such matters as the Constitution reserves to Congress, especially as to exclusive legislation over this slice of Federal Territory.
In halting, hesitating fashion many advocates of suffrage in the District have for a long time recommended asking for a mouthful of justice at a time instead of A WHOLE MEAL. In this manner there would come to Washington citizens in the course another fifteen or twenty years about half the suffrage rights now accorded to other Americans.
T. J. Donovan, the capable head of the Central Citizens’ Association, has recently been going into this subject in detail with other civic leaders, including Theodore Noyes, chairman of central suffrage committee, named by various civic organizations many months ago.
“A very large number of citizens who have expressed their ideas of local suffrage in my presence lately are very definite in their convictions,” said Mr. Donovan today, “that while they recognize it as axiomatic that for all time we must maintain a Federal status in the District, with exclusive right in Congress to legislate, they have no difficulty in harmonizing this with their right to choose the members of the Board of Commissioners of the District, the Board of Education, the Board of Children’s Guardians, the Public Utilities Commission and kindred other administrative officers. None of them can see good reasons why doing of this would conflict in the least with authority of Congress to retain legislative control over the District.
“The President of the United States is really too busy to be compelled to pass upon the qualifications of men for administrative officers, and it is reasonable to assume that all men chosen by the electorate would work in harmony with Congress.”
Mr. Donovan is convinced that the time has come to stop supplication for representation in the Senate and House and the Electoral College for the District. The question, as he sees it, should be submitted to Congress as a demand from American citizens who have done their share in every activity of peace and war, and whose records in money and men given to the Government for the war with Germany were better than those of a number of States of the Union.
“I am confident that when American citizens outside the District comprehend the status of the people here they will absolutely demand that their Senators and Congressmen correct the injustice so long done to the people of this city,” went on Mr. Donovan. “Therefore I say that the time for that justice is close at hand, and that we should ask for all that we are entitled to rather than humbly asking for a bit of legislation at a time.
“Our trouble in the past, and that is now being overcome through the co-operation of all citizens, is that the citizens of the States were not aware of the fact that to be a citizen of the Federal Capital carried with it the stigma of forfeiture of every right our forefathers fought and died for, and which our sons and brothers went overseas and laid down their lives for.
“When they ascertain that the principle of self-determination is to be made by the peace conference to apply to dozens of little nations in Europe and not to the enlightened citizens of the city of Washington, they will have something effective to say. All indications we now have are that they are already beginning to say it.
“Seventeen thousand District boys went into the army to fight for democracy; the more than 400,000 citizens who were left behind exceeded the same number of people in any other part of the United States in Liberty bond and war stamp subscriptions. Thus measuring up to the every demand of their Government, meeting every crisis like real men, is there any longer opposition to Washington people being given the same right of self-determination as the Turk, the Bulgarian, the Greek, Rumanian, Serb, and others?”
The D.C. Statehood Vote – The Washington Post, November 20th, 1993
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The Washington Post, November 20th, 1993
Today the House of Representatives begins debate on whether the District of Columbia should become a state. The deliberation is historic, as will be the vote expected to follow this weekend. The issue is not the fate of statehood legislation this year: Supporters concede they have little chance of winning. It is whether a lopsided defeat will ultimately cost or break political ground for statehood. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton contends that even in defeat, a vote `would give the undemocratic treatment of the District the serious national attention it would never attract in any other way.’ If that is the outcome, the statehood debate will be a milestone.
There is, after all, a historic wrong to be set right. The tax-paying, war-fighting citizens of the District, unlike citizens in the 50 states, have no control over their own governmental affairs. As residents of the nation’s capital, they are denied voting representation in the Congress, final word on the budgets and laws they enact, the ability to appoint their own prosecutors and judges and the ability to work out reciprocal taxing arrangements with neighboring jurisdictions. They are at all times subject to the whims of Congress.
We had hoped a way could be found for citizens here to enjoy the full political participation that is their due and still have their city remain the seat of the national government. But the defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given the District full congressional representation, and congressional inaction on other political reforms, made that outcome impossible. It became apparent that these goals could only be achieved in the context of statehood–but statehood that fulfilled certain clearly understood conditions.
As we said earlier this year, there are critical issues to be faced to make statehood feasible and desirable. We refer to a prenegotiated agreement or understanding with suburban representatives for a limited commuter tax, resolution of the congressionally created unfunded pension liability problem that threatens the District’s financial solvency and a predictable, stable and guaranteed payment to the new state.
Of the three issues, today’s statehood proposal addresses only the payment question. It eliminates the federal payment and replaces it with a payment in lieu of taxes arrangement that mirrors the funding scheme for other states with federal property within their borders. The merits of that alternative, as well as Congress’s role in addressing the other issues that could threaten the new state’s fragile viability, ought to receive a thorough airing this weekend. If a consensus can be reached on how best to approach those outstanding issues, this unprecedented debate, whatever the vote, will take statehood to a new and better place.
Tax Fairness for D.C. – The New York Times, October 30th, 1993
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The New York Times, October 30th, 1993
With a population of nearly 600,000, the District of Columbia has more people than Vermont, Wyoming or Alaska. Yet its Mayor and City Council have limited power. And the District is denied a voting representative in the same Congress that rules on its affairs.
The colonial character of this arrangement was underscored this week when Congress voted on the Washington D.C. budget, and grandstanding politicians from other places tried to deny its citizens the right to spend their own money as they see fit.
The District’s budget totaled $3.7 billion. The $3 billion came from District citizens in taxes; all but a tiny fraction of the rest is what the Federal Government pays for occupying 41 percent of the District’s land, on which it pays no taxes. The Federal payment is a miserly sum, given that the Government presence costs the District $2 billion a year in lost tax revenues.
Still, many in government see the District as a pawn in a political game. George Bush once vetoed the city budget, forcing the District to ban the use of even locally raised tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. C-Span’s broadcast of the District’s budget vote showed the latest act in this political amateur hour.
Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana, seemed not to have read the budget bill but that didn’t deter him. He questioned the salaries of the District’s City Council members, and condemned District voters who chose to return the former Mayor to office as a Councilman. He picked out random lines in the budget and asked the sponsors to explain them. This nitpicking came at the end of a tortuous 18-month process that the District suffers to get its budget.
Congress as usual? Perhaps. But imagine yourself a citizen of the District, with no voting representative in Congress, watching as Congressmen questioned not just the vote you had cast in your city, but your entitlement to tax dollars that you had paid to local government for local use. How angry would you be?
Mr. Burton rationalized his antics by contending that Federal tax dollars were at stake. But the bulk of the budget is D.C. tax money. The Federal payment that makes up the rest is rent, and skimpy rent at that. Congress oversteps in trying to control how its bargain-basement rent is spent. Mr. Burton was performing for the people back home. But what people in Indiana need to see is that their Congressman is trampling on the rights of citizens just like them, all for a little time on camera. No wonder Congress was besieged by District demonstrators agitating for statehood.
It’s hypocrisy that America champions democracy abroad while refusing fair political treatment to the citizens of its own capital.
D.C. Statehood – The Washington Post, January 13th, 1993
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The Washington Post, January 13th, 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 and 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.
Statehood for the District of Columbia – The Boston Globe, December 2nd, 1992
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The Boston Globe, December 2nd, 1992
It has a larger population than three states and is nearly as large as three more. Its citizens pay among the highest federal income taxes in all states. It has no power to tax those who work within its borders but take their pay home to states with which it has no reciprocal tax agreements. It is subject to the legislative-decisions of a body on which it has no voting representation.
It is the nation’s capital, and its citizens want and deserve a better break, one possible only through direct participation in federal government. As the most outspoken champion of statehood for Washington, D.C., Rev. Jesse Jackson plans to hold President-elect Clinton to his promise to make it a state, because only with that status can the district end the worst anomalies of its politically segregated condition.
When the Constitution provided for a federal district, it assigned full legislative control to Congress when few envisioned the capital becoming a major city with a population larger than that of any state at the time.
Congress has long kept the city in a degree of thralldom that suited the convenience of representatives and senators, who legislate matters as trivial as taxicab rules. The problem was exacerbated by longtime bigotry against the city’s large black population from a Congress often dominated by members from the Old South.
Congress has partly acknowledged the inequity by granting citizens of the district a nonvoting member of the House and by allowing D.C. residents to vote in presidential elections. The district has three electoral votes–exactly what it would have if it were a full-fledged state with two senators and a member of the House.
The political question of D.C. statehood has been complicated by its predominantly Democratic voter registration, making the matter unpalatable for Republicans when the balance of power could hinge on just a few votes. That is a weak excuse for perpetuating political inequity in a country launched on a cry of `no taxation without representation.’ Make the district a state.
The State of Misgovernment – The New York Times, July 21st, 1992
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The New York Times, July 21st, 1992
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton’s speech to the Democratic Convention gave fresh evidence of how the Federal Government treats Washington, D.C.: like a plantation.
The District’s elected officials have only token power. They can’t pass a budget or even reschedule garbage collection without groveling before Congress. The District has 608,000 people, more than Alaska, Wyoming or Vermont. Yet Representative Norton is denied a vote in the Congress that runs her city. As she told the Democrats, `It is too late in the century for Americans to accept colonial rule at the very seat of government.’
The remedy is to admit the District as the 51st state, as called for in the Democratic platform. Congress can do its part by passing the New Columbia Statehood Admission Act, which Ms. Norton introduced more than a year ago.
The hardships the District of Columbia endures are evident in the annual budget process. Congress can prevent the District from spending even locally raised revenues in ways that citizens see fit. During budget hearings, members of Congress grandstand on municipal issues and meddle with the city’s finances on behalf of special interests. Extortionate threats to hold up budget passage are common.
The need for autonomy was highlighted in a recent encounter between Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and Representative Thomas J. Bliley of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the House committee that supervises the District. Mr. Bliley berated Mayor Kelly for what he said was foot-dragging on crime.
He is in no position to criticize. He is currently in court challenging a District law intended to reduce the number of weapons on the streets. The law imposes `strict liability’ for semiautomatic rifles and pistols, allowing victims to recover damages from manufacturers and dealers even though they had nothing to do with gun crimes.
Assault weapons are sold legally in Mr. Bliley’s state. And Virginia is a main source of origin for guns confiscated in the District. Mr. Bliley forced the District’s City Council to repeal the law by threatening to block Federal aid. When voters reinstated the law, Mr. Bliley brought his suit. The suit was dismissed; Mr. Bliley has appealed. In essence, this suit argues that Congress’s control supersedes the right to self-government.
The citizens of Washington, D.C., deserve relief from this kind of imperial arrogance. Statehood is the way to provide it.
Grant D.C. Residents Full Rights – The Oregonian, April 15th, 1992
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The Oregonian, April 15th, 1992
Congress can right an old and grievous wrong in coming weeks. It should pass the District of Columbia statehood bill to grant district residents the same citizenship rights enjoyed by all other Americans.
The measure to create the state of New Columbia recently passed the House District of Columbia Committee. The bill should reach the House floor by late May or June.
While the new state would be–unlike any other–entirely a city, the continued subjugation of district residents to a paternalistic Congress is a travesty of democratic justice.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district’s nonvoting representative, points out that Washingtonians not only have fewer rights than those in the 50 states, but fewer rights than those in the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa, which at least have local self-governance.
Limited home rule has been a hollow promise. All laws passed by the district’s city council must be approved by Congress. An assualt-weapons referendum overwhelmingly approved by city residents is being challenged by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. The district can’t even change garbage-collection days without clearance on the Hill.
D.C. residents pay U.S. taxes without representation and serve in the military with no voice in choosing those who put their lives at risk.
The unique creation of a city-state has led some opponents to suggest joining most of the district to neighboring Maryland. That, however, runs counter to the will of district residents and those of Maryland.
The district meets three traditional statehood tests: Statehood reflects the will of the people; they have agreed to adhere to a representative form of government; and there are enough people and resources to ensure economic viability.
The district’s 608,000 residents outnumber the populations of three states. D.C. households have an average income of $32,106. The district raises 84 percent of its $3.8 billion budget through income, property and sales taxes.
No compelling argument against statehood has been advanced, and no acceptable alternative has been offered. To continue second-class citizenship for D.C. residents is inconsistent with and offensive to democratic principles. It is unworthy of this republic.