D.C. voters will find two questions on the ballot. One is an initiative measure entitled Nuclear Weapons Freeze Act of 1982. Vote For or Against. A summary of the initiative appears here. The other question concerns the Constitution of the State of New Columbia. Vote For or Against. Pro and con statements on the Constitution are presented here. Initiative Measure Number 10 Entitled Nuclear Weapons Freeze Act of 1982 Ballot Summary
In the interest of preventing nuclear war, reversing the economic impact of weapons spending, and safeguarding District of Columbia residents, it shall be the policy of the District of Columbia to:
(1) Support a United States-Soviet Union nuclear weapons freeze as a first step toward arms reduction; (2) Encourage redirection of resources to jobs and human needs; and (3) Recognize prevention of nuclear war as the only defense against nuclear destruction.
The Mayor is directed to appoint an uncompensated advisory board, and to use existing authority to propose to the Executive and Congress immediate negotiation of a nuclear weapons freeze. State of New Columbia Constitution PRO By CHARLES L. CASSELL
The voters of Washington, D.C., will approve the constitution for the future state of New Columbia.
The electorate of this city has thrice expressed itself in favor of representative government through statehood for America's last colony in the continental United States. First, by providing thousands more petition signatures than necessary for inclusion of the statehood question on the ballot in the November 1980 election. Second, by voting overwhelmingly to begin the statehood process. Third, by electing 45 delegates in November 1981 to write a constitution for their future state.
These events indicate that D.C. voters are serious about putting undemocratic colonial government behind them. All political office seekers and office holders know this. Only one of the candidates in the recent primary election took a public position against the constitution and that candidate was roundly defeated. No elected official dared oppose the document that is necessary for statehood.
The only major D.C. organizations that have taken positions on the constitution for New Columbia have proudly announced their support for the document.They are the Democratic State Committee, which represents 70 percent of the registered voters in D.C.; the Americans for Democratic Action, an influential organization with an esteemed constituency; and the Gertrude Stein Club, an active organization with a potent constituency.
It is significant to note that when the citizens voted to become a state, their objective was just that -- not to obtain a constitution that would satisfy everyone in every respect. Anyone who has paid attention to the legislative and constitution writing processes throughout the nation knows that this would be impossible.
It is also worthy of note that we stand in the midst of this process not through the determination of any governmental body but on the initiative of the citizens who would be free of rule by those for whom they cannot vote.
Finally, it is clear that when the U.S. Congress has reacted pragmatically to this determined citizen movement by approving statehood for D.C., the minority of constitutional opponents will join the majority in celebrating the joyous event.As with the U.S. Constitution and with other state constitutions, they will then be able to participate in an orderly and lawful process of proposing amendments in accordance with the provisions written into the constitution for New Columbia.
Cassell is president of the D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention. CON By COURTS OULAHAN and JOEL GARNER
Statehood is not the issue. The issue is whether District voters want to live under a seriously flawed constitution. Voters should know that the proposed constitution would guarantee every person a job at the taxpayers' expense, erode the independence of the judiciary, triple the size and cost of our lgislature, subject all public employes to personal damage suits, favor criminals over their victims, penalize religious school students and their parents and make the overthrow of the new state a legally protected right.
While all of these objections are important, three need to be highlighted.
Advocates for this constitution concede that the right to a job provision will cost us at least $400 million every year; other estimates are several times that amount. A bankrupt state can provide no services and protect no rights. Second, our judicial system will be severely weakened and heavily politicized. Judges will be handpicked by the governor because this document provides for no advise-and-consent role for the legislature. In addition, judicial independence will be corrupted by the requirement that judges run for election after the first three years in office and thereafter every six or 10 years. Third, this document mandates large changes in criminal law. There will be new search and seizure rules, new bail requirements, new rights to an attorney, the abolition of common law offenses and the right to repetitious appeals of old convictions. The introduction of so many provisions at one time will result in an avalanche of appeals that will clog our courts for years to come.
Objections to these and other provisions of this constitution have been raised by concerned citizens throughout the District of Columbia, including Statehood advocates such as City Council members John Ray and Dave Clarke. Not every opponent of this constitution has the same objections, but the concerns are widespread.
According to the Statehood Initiative Act, the only way this constitution can be amended before it goes to Congress is for voters to vote "no" on Nov. 2. A "no" vote will automatically call the Constitutional Convention back into session where the revisions can be made.Delegates need to know that the voters object to this constitution and that revisions are needed. We cannot rely on the promise that the City Council will make the necessary changes.
We believe that many provisions of this 18,000-word constitution are worthwhile, even exemplary. However, the controversial sections make the document a politically and financially unsound basis for a new state. Statehood is a valuable goal, but a state is worth no more than the constitution that governs it. D.C. deserves better.
Oulahan and Garner are delegates from Ward III to the D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention.