WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that 20 Attorneys General have joined him in supporting Statehood for the District of Columbia. In a first-of-its-kind statement issued ahead of D.C.’s April 16th celebration of Emancipation Day, the Attorneys General affirm that District residents deserve voting rights and autonomy and urge Congress to pass H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, a bill introduced by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton that would make D.C. statehood a reality. Emancipation Day commemorates the hard-won victory of the end of slavery in the District in 1862 but also serves as a reminder of all the ways in which the District’s freedom and autonomy have not yet been fully realized.
This is the first time that state Attorneys General from across the country have come together to support the District. The attorneys general write:
“The District’s over 700,000 residents work hard, raise families, and pay the highest federal taxes per capita, and yet they are deprived of the fundamental right to participate meaningfully in our representative democracy. The District of Columbia deserves a voice in this country’s legislature and should be able to govern itself like any other state. The District’s residents deserve equal voting rights and autonomy under the law. We support Statehood for the District of Columbia and urge passage of H.R. 51 to accomplish this goal.”
The 20 Attorneys General who joined AG Racine and declared their support for D.C. Statehood are California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, New York Attorney General Tish James, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
On March 8, 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, a sweeping voting rights bill that endorses full congressional voting rights and self-government for the District. Meanwhile, H.R. 51, which would grant D.C. statehood, has garnered a record-breaking 203 cosponsors from 39 states and three territories. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has expressed her ardent support for the bill, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings has pledged to hold a hearing on the bill later this year.
“The fight for D.C. Statehood is a fight for justice and equality and a fight to empower the District’s disenfranchised residents,” said AG Racine. “Support for our cause continues to grow. I am grateful to the advocates and activists working here in the District and across the country to stand up for our fundamental rights, and I am especially grateful to my fellow State Attorneys General for joining us in supporting D.C. Statehood for the first time. I am confident that in time a majority of the country’s Attorneys General will support statehood for the District.”
Statehood would place District residents on equal footing with residents of other states and give them a voice in decisions that already shape their lives. It would also grant the District local control of our criminal and civil justice system, which is currently administered directly by the federal government, and would allow locally-elected, accountable prosecutors to handle local crimes.