DC Mayor Orders 51-Star U.S. Flags Be Flown Even Though Capital Is Not A State

DC Mayor Orders 51-Star U.S. Flags Be Flown Even Though Capital Is Not A State

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered the city to display American flags with 51 stars along Pennsylvania Flag to denote ‘Flag Day’ in her latest effort to push statehood for the city.

The move comes after the Democrat-controlled House passed the “DC Admission Act” in April, but the city is not a state and several constitutional experts have expressed doubt that it could ever become one.

Flag Day is June 14.

Bowser said that she ordered her administration to hang the 51-star flags “as a reminder to Congress and the nation that the 700,000 tax-paying American citizens living in Washington, D.C., demand to be recognized.”

“On Flag Day, we celebrate American ideals, American history, and American liberty. But the very foundation of those ideals, and the basis for our liberty, is representation,” Bowser said in a statement. “DC’s disenfranchisement is a stain on American democracy – a 220-year-old wrong that demands to be righted.”

Fox News adds:

The stars on the American flag represent the 50 states, the last of which, Hawaii, was admitted on Aug. 21, 1959. The American flag’s 50-star design became official on July 4, 1960. 

The notion of D.C. statehood remains a contentious issue among lawmakers. D.C. has a population of more than 700,000 residents – greater than the states of Wyoming or Vermont – but the residents don’t have a voting member in the House and have no representation in the Senate. Nor does the district have control over its own local affairs. However, D.C. pays more in federal taxes than 21 states and more capital than any state, according to the 2019 IRS data book. 

In April, House Democratic lawmakers passed the “DC Admission Act,” which would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state and grant its residents full representation in Congress. 

The primary reason why Democrats are pushing for DC to become a state is because the city is very blue and doing so would add another Democrat to the House and two more Democrats to the Senate — probably permanently.

But Republicans largely side with constitutional experts who argue that the nation’s capital cannot ever become a state. They point to Article 1, Sect. 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution, which establishes a “seat of government” independent and separate from states. Washington, D.C., was formed from land ceded to the federal government by Virginia and Maryland.

In order to make DC a state, that portion of the Constitution would have to be amended, they argue. That was tried but failed; Congress passed just such an amendment in 1978 but it died in 1985 after failing to be ratified by the requisite number of states (38).

The measure passed in April seeks to carve out a 10-square-mile portion of DC as the ‘seat of government’ noted in the Constitution. But lawyer and columnist Jeff Jacoby argued in a Boston Globe column in 2020 that the scheme is “too clever by half.” He writes:

Congress cannot change the status of the capital district simply by redefining it. Washington, D.C.’s one-of-a-kind standing in the federal system is spelled out in the Constitution; the only way to modify that standing is to modify the Constitution. The plain meaning of Article I is that “the Seat of Government of the United States” comprises all the land supplied for that purpose. H.R. 51 would turn it instead into exactly what the Framers rejected — an island of government buildings, with perhaps a few hundred residents, enveloped within a state.

To that point, according to History.com, “James Madison spelled out the reason for the arrangement, explaining that maintaining an isolated district would prevent any state from holding too much power by being home to the national government.”

Nevertheless, the push to make DC a state continues.

In her Monday statement, Bowser invoked the leaked Supreme Court opinion draft that suggested Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion, was about to be overturned.

“As Americans nationwide brace for a decision on the future of Roe v. Wade, we are also reminded that DC’s disenfranchisement impacts not just Americans living in D.C., but Americans nationwide who share our values,” she said. “While the stakes are even higher for Washingtonians, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the majority of Americans who believe in a woman’s right to choose.”


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