Michael D. Brown is one of D.C.’s shadow senators. He wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which he stated, “It’s simple: If you want to be equal in the United States, you need to be a state.”
Brown is calling for voting rights for Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court affirmed last month that the District of Columbia does not have a right under the U.S.Constitution to voting representation in Congress. Brown recognizes that the reason for this decision is simply that D.C. is not a state.
He doesn’t want to see more attempts to find a legal loophole or to argue for a new interpretation. He sees that statehood is the only way to achieve the goal of equality for D.C. voters.
“It’s time to make our fight part of the national voting rights agenda,” he wrote. The fight he has in mind is the fight for statehood for D.C.
The House voted in favor of D.C. statehood. “A statehood bill has passed the House twice and has 45 co-sponsors in the Senate,” Brown said. “This should give us hope. However, we’ve been close before. Close leaves us where we have been for the past 220 years. Nonetheless, given our progress, there has never been a better time to push our advantage.”
Puerto Rico’s fight
“Our lack of representation is the single largest case of voter suppression,” Brown wrote, “yet two pieces of voting rights legislation in the Senate do not even mention it.”
In terms of number, the single largest case of voter suppression is the disenfranchisement of over three million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. But, as Brown says, equality requires statehood. Moreover, Puerto Rico voters, unlike the voters of D.C., cannot participate in presidential elections. Like D.C., Puerto Rico has no senators and just one non-voting representative in the House.
Like D.C., Puerto Rico can expect equality with the States only when it becomes a State. Voters in Puerto Rico have voted for statehood three times now, but Congress has not yet taken action.