For The Record

Georgia’s Carr and 21 other state AGs call for halt to D.C. statehood push

By: - April 13, 2021 5:07 pm

Attorney General Chris Carr co-authored a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leadership expressing “serious concerns” about reports that Biden and others have backed D.C.’s campaign for statehood. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Georgia’s top prosecutor has joined a coalition of GOP attorneys general in opposing the push for Washington D.C. to become a state.

Attorney General Chris Carr co-authored a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leadership expressing “serious concerns” about reports that Biden and others have backed D.C.’s campaign for statehood.

Attorney General of Georgia Chris Carr

“This coalition has one simple goal – to uphold the U.S. Constitution,” Carr said in a statement Tuesday. “If the Biden Administration and Congress attempt to enact this legislation and provide statehood to the District of Columbia, our coalition will stop it.”

The letter, written on behalf of 22 states, threatens a legal challenge if the “unconstitutional” measure is passed and signed into law. The attorneys general argue that D.C. statehood would require a constitutional amendment.

Democrats have framed the proposal as a voting rights issue, saying it is undemocratic for the residents of D.C. to go without a voice in Congress. Residents elect a non-voting representative to the U.S. House and have no representation in the Senate, yet Congress can strike down D.C.’s local laws.

But the state attorneys general also argued it’s just a bad idea, saying D.C. statehood would “create a super-state with unrivaled power.”

“Providing statehood would create a state that would not be one among equals, but rather, a super-state that would have primacy over all others,” the letter reads. “Furthermore, for over two centuries, the District’s residents have all willingly lived there with an understanding of its unique nature.”

The question over whether the District of Columbia should become its own state – called the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth – with two U.S. senators and one U.S. representative is increasingly the subject of national debate. Washington D.C. is home to about 700,000 people.

Some states are also weighing in, both for and against D.C. statehood. In Georgia, where this year’s legislative session ended late last month, a group of Senate Democrats floated a resolution urging Congress to grant D.C. statehood, but the measure went nowhere in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

“No other democratic nation denies the right of self-government, including participation in its national legislature, to the residents of its capital,” the Georgia state resolution reads.

Both of Georgia’s U.S. senators support granting D.C. statehood. Sen. Raphael Warnock is one of the 42 co-sponsors on a Senate measure; Sen. Jon Ossoff’s office confirmed Tuesday that he also supports D.C. statehood. At least 51 votes are needed in the Senate for it to pass, should the chamber bypass the filibuster.

A vote on whether to make D.C. the 51st state in the union passed in the U.S. House of Representatives along party lines last year, with just one Democrat from Minnesota voting with Republicans against it.

Georgia Republican U.S. Rep Andrew Clyde accused Democrats of pursuing a “power grab” in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority.

“Democrats are pushing this bill through because they want two additional — ultra liberal — Senators to implement policies, including packing the courts, enacting the Green New Deal, defunding the police, and adding unconstitutional bans on your Second Amendment rights,” Clyde wrote to his constituents earlier this month.

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Jill Nolin
Jill Nolin

Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.