UNLESS THEY LISTEN to reason, the 45 people elected to be the founding parents of the 51st state--as drafters of a constitution for the District of Columbia--will kill the whole idea aborning. By larding up their draft document with words about every delegate's favorite cause, pet peeve and/or recipe for instant nirvana, the convention members can assure a guaranteed negative reception in Congress, not to mention among the majority of voters who charged them with an important mission.
Walter Fauntroy--who has had a decade of exposure to the ins, outs, whims and fancies of Congress in its dealings with the District--has tried to make this point to the convention, and it should not be lost: write an orthodox constitution, says Mr. Fauntroy, with provisions that "look as much like systems members are accustomed to as possible." That, coupled with language establishing smooth relations with the federal government, including the handling of police, sanitation and other services and the protection of foreign embassies, would help win congressional assent, the delegate notes.
Some of the delegates who have their selfish agendas will no doubt try to dismiss Mr. Fauntroy's advice because of his longstanding criticism of the statehood movement in the past. While it is true that Mr. Fauntroy prefers ratification of the pending amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would provide for full D.C. representation in Congress, his latest warning is genuinely friendly counsel; if he really wanted statehood clobbered for good, all he had to do was stand on the sidelines and watch the suicide squad mustering troops.
For those who may not have heard, here's a taste of some of the odds and ends being suggested, urged or pushed for inclusion in the state constitution: provisions for and against abortion and gun controls, for legalization of prostitution, against "state regulation of morality," for guaranteeing a right to adequate housing and medical treatment, against police wiretaps and capital punishment, for the "right to a job" and a right of public employees to strike, for requiring the press to "report all sides of an issue. . ." and against "public advocacy promoting the extermination of any group of people based on race, religion . . . etc."
If you didn't find anything to oppose in this list, check with your local convention delegate for the Complete Almanac of Legal Baggage and Sundry Inanities for a sure-fire unacceptable proposal.
And whether you do or do not favor statehood as the best course for the self-determination effort, you should be offered the best product on which to make a judgment. So should Congress--and the simpler the document is, the better that possibility.