In Letter to Congress, Dozens of Constitutional Law Experts Confirm Clear Constitutionality of D.C. Statehood

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In case you missed it, nearly 40 leading constitutional law scholars sent a letter to Leaders Schumer, Pelosi, McConnell and McCarthy illustrating the clear constitutionality of granting statehood to the District of Columbia. In the letter, these experts urged Congress to use its express constitutional authority to deliver D.C. statehood, and to avoid paying attention to “meritless threats of litigation.” Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the Senate’s longtime top advocate to make D.C. the 51st state, recently secured a record 45 cosponsors for his D.C. statehood bill, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (S. 51).

As reported by NBC News and analyzed in a Washington Post op-ed, the scholars debunked several objections from opponents of D.C. statehood. Among this group of scholars were Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School and Caroline Fredrickson of the Georgetown University Law Center.

“As scholars of the United States Constitution, we write to correct claims that the D.C. Admission Act is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge in the courts,” the experts wrote. “The Supreme Court has broadly construed Congress’s assigned power to admit new states and has never interfered with Congress’s admission of a state, even when potentially legitimate constitutional objections existed… The D.C. Admission Act calls for a proper exercise of Congress’ express authority under the Constitution to admit new states, a power that it has exercised 37 other times since the Constitution was adopted.”

Responding to the letter, Carper released the following statement:

“It’s far past time to right this historic wrong and give the over 700,000 tax-paying Americans who call the District home a voice and vote in Congress,” Carper said. “These leading law experts confirm what I have said before: Washington, D.C. is taking the same well-traveled road towards statehood that 37 other states have taken since 1791. With the House’s passage last month, a supportive President and a record number of Senate cosponsors, I’m more optimistic than ever that we can finally make D.C. statehood a reality this Congress.”


Carper has introduced D.C. statehood legislation every Congress since 2013. Carper is also a cosponsor of the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act and the District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act, which would give the District of Columbia autonomy over its own National Guard and police force, respectively.