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Posted at 7:54 PM ET, 06/29/2010

A vote for retrocession

By editors

By Victor Cholewicki

Michael Liszewski advanced a partly good idea in his June 27 letter, “Statehood is D.C.’s best option.” Since today’s District is a subset of the original District (Alexandria and Arlington were retroceded to Virginia in 1847), carving out a small federal enclave would be consistent with past practice. For the enclave, I’d recommend the land south of a line running through Macomb Street and west of the Anacostia River, which would include most of the important government buildings, monuments and embassies.

However, the right thing to do would be to retrocede the non-enclave territory to Maryland. That would allow D.C. residents to vote for their own House member and two senators. Then we would only have to worry that the residents of the smaller, new federal enclave would someday press for their own representative and senators.

By editors  | June 29, 2010; 7:54 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., DC Vote, HotTopic  
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Retrocession is not an option.

Robert Vinson Brannum

Posted by: robert158 | June 30, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

DC Statehood NOW -- for ALL District residents is the best solution. This does not require a constitutional amendment.

Show me the injured constitutional party! If someone blusters: "Blatantly unconstitutional!" -- they probably believe the boundaries of the District are inviolate -- and this is not true.

Maryland and the District have been going their separate ways for more than two centuries now. The District has developed a unique and proud independent heritage.

Besides being the nation's capital, in the years before the Civil War the laws requiring the forced return of runaway slaves changed back and forth several times, but as a matter of "practical politics" they could usually find safe refuge in the District.

The District of Columbia was a beacon of light, a beacon of hope, as was Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

Does the 23rd Amendment REQUIRE that the District have registered voters? The 23rd Amendment withers on the vine.

Appropriate statehood legislation satisfies the intent of the 23rd Amendment. There is no injured constitutional party.


Article I, Section 8, Clause 17.
(Establish the District of Columbia.)

This does not require that the District contain any voting residents -- or that the boundaries be contiguous (connected) -- only that it fit within a ten Mile square.

The District could contain the White House, Congress, Supreme Court, Smithsonian areas (connected), with perhaps the Vice President's residence (not connected).

Maryland and Virginia ceded the original ten Mile square to the federal government, but in 1846-1847 Congress retroceded the Virginia portion to Virginia -- without a constitutional amendment.


Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1.
(Admit new states and redraw existing boundaries.)

I believe there is an important precedent in the statehood history of West Virginia. The western counties declared that the statehood offices of Virginia were "vacated" when the eastern counties joined the Confederate rebellion.

The people of the District can say that Maryland "vacated" their (DC's) statehood offices when they surrendered the territory to the tender mercies of the federal government in the first place!


Amendment XXIII.
(Presidential Electors for DC.)

This is simple. ALL citizens of the District become citizens of the new State of New Columbia, with full statehood rights.

There are no voters in the District, only the properties of the federal government. No voters, no elections, and no court in the country will ever try to allocate those 3 presidential electors to anyone.

Section 2 simply states: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Appropriate statehood legislation satisfies the intent of the 23rd Amendment. The voters of New Columbia will be able to continue voting for presidential electors, as before.

There is no injured constitutional party.

Posted by: MikeEgger | June 30, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Retrocede the non-Federal lands of DC back to Maryland, which needs the tax money.

Posted by: Viennacommuter1 | June 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I've long thought retrocession to Maryland is our best option in DC. Statehood is just not realistic, though its romantic and exciting to think about. Our fellows across the Potomac in Alexandria were ceded back to VA long ago, and generally we can hope for the same if we went to MD. I think one thing is eminently clear: a non-federal entity within a federal republic is not tenable. Our current condition proves that.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | June 30, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I think retrocession is a practical option but the number one reason it won't happen is that the current political class is opposed to it; the boys in Annapolis do not want a new bunch showing up, the MD Senators don't want a bunch of new voters whose allegiance they don't possess, the pols of Charm City certainly don't want to see the balance of power shift down I-95 and the wannabees in the District building have no intention of suddenly becoming little fish in a big pond.

The schools, the roads and police would probably improve but for gosh sakes, these are important political careers that we're talking about. I can dream, though.

Posted by: naaqsso2 | June 30, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

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