Constitutional scholars say congressional proclamation could make DC a state
© Getty Images

A group of congressional law scholars wrote to members of Congress indicating that they believed the legislature had the power to pass a law admitting Washington, D.C., as the 51st state without going through the constitutional amendment process.

In a letter first reported by NBC News, nearly 40 constitutional scholars including Harvard's Lawrence Tribe and the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato wrote that Washington, D.C., could join the union via congressional proclamation, "just like the 37 other states that have been admitted since the Constitution was adopted."

"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," their letter reportedly continued.


Their certainty about the statehood push's legality could strengthen calls from advocates for D.C. statehood, including top District of Columbia officials such as Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserTwo shot outside of popular restaurants in DC, police still searching for suspects The Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics DC mayor, Nationals issue joint statement against gun violence MORE (D) and Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonDuckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage Congress must step up to fund the Howard University Hospital renovation Activists see momentum as three new states legalize marijuana MORE (D-D.C.), the District's nonvoting member of Congress.

Legislation to make D.C. a state would still have to pass a split Senate where Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote MORE (D-W.Va.) has already indicated that he agrees with Republican arguments claiming that the District's admittance as a state would require a constitutional amendment due to the requirement that the country's seat of government not be its own state.

The D.C. statehood bill currently being pushed by some Democrats would reduce the size of the District to include the White House, Capitol and National Mall, while most of the city and surrounding suburbs would become a new state.

The Biden administration formally supports the idea, but not all Democratic-caucusing members of the Senate have yet signed on and it has no public GOP support.