League statement on proposed statehood referendum

Letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson

June 15, 2016


Dear Ms. Bowser and Mr. Mendelson:

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia supports efforts to make DC the 51st state and looks forward to a positive outcome of a referendum on statehood in November.  We support a referendum in the November 2016 election on statehood, district boundaries, and a commitment to a republican government. (The word “republican,” not “representative” is used in the US Constitution.) We recommend a vote on ratifying the Constitution only after it has been given due consideration by the people of DC under an open and transparent process.

With the constrained time frame underway, the League has not had an opportunity to study the proposed Constitution and reach consensus on the details with our membership.  However, our strong positions on transparency in government enable us to say we object to the closed process outlined for amending the document.  We cannot support any Constitution that does not include a transparent amendment process, such as allowing amendments to be proposed by Initiative and/or Constitutional Convention.

We believe the proposed process in developing the language of the Constitution for ratification by the people is flawed. The proposed timeline for writing a constitution is too short, and is too limited in public participation and transparency. We would argue that such a serious effort be completed under a process the people of the District of Columbia deserve. We urge the District leaders to take a responsible approach to a Constitutional Convention with duly elected representatives and a schedule that allows for full consideration and participation. 

We applaud the increased attention to statehood for the people of the District of Columbia and hope that a new Congress will agree.  Let’s take the time to write a state constitution the people deserve.

Linda Beebe, President