A foreigner dropping into “The District” from wherever, would be flabbergasted by the local debate over Statehood, home rule, etc. for the District.
The powers of Congress enumerated in Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution include the power to govern a federal district:
- “Clause 17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;”
The Residence Act passed by Congress on July 17, 1790, established what is now called the District of Columbia, or Washington D.C., as the capital of the United States. Maryland and Virginia ceded between them 100 square miles of their territory for this purpose. Congress moved from its first capital in Philadelphia to Washington in December 1800. On February 27, 1801, 212 years ago today, the so-called Organic Act was approved giving control of the District to Congress “and took away the right of residents to vote in federal elections.” District of Columbia retrocession – Wikipedia
And in 1812 our British friends burned down the White House forcing James Madison to live in what is now the Arts Club of Washington (of which Ito and I are members).
In March 1847, Congress and Virginia’s General Assembly approved the return (“retrocession”) of Virginia’s contribution to the District of Columbia but the retrocession of Maryland’s contribution failed to pass Congress. Turning Maryland’s part of the district into a new state makes no sense to me at all. But neither does Congress’s continued control over all of Maryland’s portion of the District.
The provisions of the Constitution giving Congress legislative power over the lands needed for and occupied by its facilities would be fully met by returning most of the District to Maryland (thus restoring full voting and other citizen rights to its residents). Virginia did it and so can (and should) Maryland.