Norton Says ACLU Analysis Finding D.C. Statehood Bill Constitutional Carries Great Weight

Sep 5, 2019
Press Release
House to Hold Hearing on Bill September 19th

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said today that the ACLU has conducted a constitutional analysis of her District of Columbia statehood bill (H.R. 51), finding that the bill “is a valid and defensible exercise of congressional authority” and is “constitutionally permissible.”  The ACLU’s analysis and conclusions are substantially similar to, and reinforce, those in testimony submitted to the Senate in 2014 by the Congressional Research Service, which provides legal analysis to Congress, and by Viet Dinh, a U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy in the George W. Bush Administration.

“As one of the nation’s pre-eminent legal organizations, the ACLU takes great care in ensuring our laws pass constitutional muster,” said Monica Hopkins, Executive Director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia.  “Not only are the House and Senate bill constitutional, but when passed, will ensure that the fundamental right to vote is established for more than 700,000 American citizens who have been denied this right for more than 200 years.”

“The ACLU’s legal analysis and conclusions are particularly important to our effort to secure statehood for D.C.,” Norton said.  “Many issues that enjoy large support in our country do not get ACLU support because they do not meet the ACLU’s rigorous constitutional standards.  The ACLU is the country’s foremost expert on constitutional matters and it its opinion carries weight in Congress and the courts.”

The ACLU’s full analysis can be found HERE.

Norton’s bill would make most of the present-day District of Columbia into the State of Washington, D.C., with the remaining territory designated as the nation’s capital.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Elijah Cummings (D-MD), will hold a hearing on H.R. 51 on September 19, 2019, the first House hearing on D.C. statehood since 1993.  Just nine months into the new Congress, Norton has built historic support for her D.C. statehood bill that virtually assures House passage.  H.R. 51 has a record number of voting cosponsors (215); the Senate’s D.C. statehood bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), also has the most cosponsors ever (33); the House-passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, contained extensive findings supporting D.C. statehood, marking the first time in history either chamber of Congress has endorsed D.C. statehood; Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) strongly endorsed D.C. statehood upon introduction of H.R. 51; House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), a cosponsor of the statehood bill, endorsed D.C. statehood in a strong op-ed earlier this year; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a sweeping proposal to combat voter disenfranchisement, including restoring the Voting Rights Act, establishing national, automatic voter registration laws, and supporting D.C. statehood; and H.R. 51 is endorsed by nearly 100 national advocacy groups.