Today, we need to talk about three people:
- Joe Manchin
- John Lewis
Weird list, right?
In case you missed it, last Friday, Joe Manchin went on the record to talk about D.C. statehood. And, like with most Joe Manchin interviews, there’s good news and bad news.
First, the good news: Despite what one headline (wrongly) proclaimed, Manchin did not say that he doesn’t support statehood.
The bad news: He said that he thinks a constitutional amendment is needed.
More good news: He’s wrong. Statehood is perfectly constitutional. And you don’t need to take our word for it. Just listen to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (a former tenured professor of constitutional law):
Those who make such an assertion are conflating a policy choice and a constitutional requirement.
First, no new state was admitted by constitutional amendment. All 37 new states were admitted by Congress, and there has never been a successful constitutional challenge to the admission of a state. The Constitution commits admission decisions solely to Congress.
Second, neither the text of the District Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress plenary authority over the federal district, nor the text of the 23rd Amendment establishes a minimum geographic or population size, or even a location, of the federal district. Under both clauses, Congress has the authority to reduce the geographic and population size of the federal district, as the D.C. statehood bill would do.
Third, even though the 23rd Amendment does not need to be repealed before D.C. statehood, some scholars have argued that the 23rd Amendment would be nullified under the D.C. statehood bill, either because the bill would repeal the enabling statute for the amendment, or because the bill would lead to the unreasonable result of allowing the reduced federal district to participate in the Electoral College.
Fourth, even though the 23rd Amendment does not need to be repealed before D.C. statehood, we expect Congress and the states to quickly repeal the amendment to prevent the reduced federal district from participating in the Electoral College.
Fifth, even though the 23rd Amendment does not need to be repealed before D.C. statehood, Congress may have discretion in how it awards the electoral votes. The 23rd Amendment provides that the federal district “shall appoint” electors “in such manner as the Congress may direct.” Congress could choose, for example, to award the electors to the winner of the Electoral College or the national popular vote to prevent the reduced federal district from controlling electoral votes.
You can also check out this short video explainer and share it on your social channels to help debunk Manchin’s argument.
We know that it’s easy to feel defeated by Senator Manchin’s comments. But real talk: we’re always losing until we’re not. And there are no shortcuts. This fight is winnable -- it just means that we’ve got some work ahead of us. And that means doubling down on pressure nationwide to demand our senators remake our democracy for the people by passing the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and D.C. statehood.
So that’s where our next two people on the list come in: John Lewis and you.
28 years ago, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman John Lewis made clear exactly what was at stake in this fight for justice for the people of the District:
“One man, one vote. I rise in support of D.C. statehood. I rise in support of what is fair. It is not right that we have to be here debating whether to give American citizens living right here in the shadow of the Capitol representation in Congress. The time is now to do what is fair, what is right.”
In 5 days (on Saturday!), people across the country will hit the streets in cars, on bikes, and on foot to remember Congressman John Lewis and demand our nation’s leaders honor his legacy by passing the kind of structural democracy reform he spent his life making good trouble for. So today, it’s only fitting that we remember Lewis’ hope for this country and remember why we’re showing up this weekend.
If you haven’t already, stop what you’re doing and find a May 8th John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day event near you. And, if there isn’t one planned, it’s not too late to plan your own and register it to the map. Visit www.johnlewisdayofaction.org and check out the host toolkit, communications toolkit, and more.
With that, here are your weekly to-dos:
Your 5 weekly to-dos
- Make calls to your senators about S. 1, the For the People Act. Next week, the Senate will have a markup of the For the People Act. This week, it’s urgent that your senators hear from you: if they’ve already co-sponsored, tell them thank you and urge them to speak out publicly about moving the bill urgently without letting the filibuster get in the way. If you live in West Virginia, tell Senator Manchin our democracy is at stake, and you urge him to support the bill (we've got a special script just for you here!). And if you have Republican senators, tell them you’re paying attention and you won’t forget their vote.
- Tell your senators to make D.C. the 51st state. The good news is that all Democratic senators except five have co-sponsored S. 51 to make the District the next state (looking at you, Senators Sinema, Kelly, Manchin, King, and Shaheen). But, co-sponsorship is not enough. This week, ahead of events on Saturday, make a call to both of your senators and demand they support a committee hearing on D.C. statehood as soon as possible, a committee markup on the bill, and eliminating the filibuster so that we can pass the bill on the floor. And tell them to speak out publicly about the urgent need for statehood for the District.
- Make calls to your senators and representative to ensure that we win a robust recovery. This means everything in the American Jobs and Families Plans, as well as key priorities that are currently left out, like citizenship for undocumented immigrants, lowering prescription drug prices, and expanding Medicare. You can read more about our priorities in our explainer here.
- Ask your representative to co-sponsor the THRIVE Act. With the climate crisis continuing to intensify, the economy entering a deep recession, and the need for racial justice and healing being felt as acutely as ever, the case for Green New Deal-style policymaking is stronger than ever before. You can watch our climate expert, Ann, break down THRIVE here before you call.
- Take the Indivisible Census. From time to time, we evaluate our network and assess our impact. We’re excited to work with Dr. Dana Fisher, a prominent researcher on American political movements, and her team at the University of Maryland to launch this year’s Indivisible Census. No matter if you founded one of the very first groups in 2016 or just joined last week, we want to hear from you.
P.S. We rely on your support to keep call pages up and running, fund ads to get the word out, and continue all the work we’re doing this year. If you’re able, click here to donate to help fund our work.
Find a Virtual Event "near" you
Meet with Sens. Murray + Cantwell Staffers
When: Wednesday, May 12, 2:00 PM Where: Virtual, Bainbridge Island, WA
Seattle Indivisible Elections Committee: Monthly Meeting & Activist Cafe
When: Monday, May 10, 5:30 PM Where: Virtual, Seattle, WA
Congressional Town Hall - Senator Maria Cantwell
When: Friday, May 14, 12:00 PM Where: Virtual, Bellevue, WA
Looking to brush up your advocacy skills or learn new ones? You can always check out our upcoming trainings on our website.
John Lewis Mobilization Town Hall: Join activists across the nation on Wednesday, May 5th at 7pm ET / 4pm PT for the John Lewis Mobilization Town Hall to learn more about the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Day of Action votercades scheduled to take place across the country this Saturday, May 8th. Register here.
National Activist Call: Join us for our monthly Indivisible National Activist Call on Thursday, May 6th at 8pm ET / 5pm PT. This monthly call is a space for Indivisible group leaders, members, and other activists to hear ways to take action and connect with one another. This month we'll talk through the status of our major policy priorities and lift up some Indivisible programs you can get involved with. Register now.
May Facebook Trainings: We’re running “Facebook Strategy” trainings next week on May 10th (3pm ET / 12pm PT) and May 12th (8pm ET / 5pm PT) for more advanced users looking to learn about analytics, algorithms, and promotions. If you’re curious about Facebook or want to polish your skills, join us!
Tough Talk: Tools for Anti-Racism Conversations with Friends & Family: Wishing you were more confident in talking about anti-racism with friends and family? On Saturday, May 15 at 12pm ET / 9am PT, join Indivisibles and other progressive activists across the region for a customized half-day workshop. This session is for everyone interested in playing an active role in dismantling white supremacy and its ever-present impacts on our communities. While white supremacy affects people differently, we have all been socialized within it -- and therefore, must continue to work against it. Register here.
Take the Indivisible Census
All of the energy and passion we've put into our organizing since the inauguration in January is already starting to pay off. We’re seeing wins with members of Congress (MoCs) fighting for the strongest COVID-19 relief, speaking out against the filibuster, and now they’re starting to fight for the boldest recovery plan possible through the THRIVE agenda. Being able to tell the story of our work this year is a way that we show our power, but in order to do that, we need to build a shared understanding of who we are as a community -- and to provide a way for you, as the leaders of this movement, to share that with us directly.
We’re excited to work with Dr. Dana Fisher, a prominent researcher on American political movements, and her team at the University of Maryland to launch the 2021 Indivisible Census, and we’re asking you to participate. Please click here and take a few minutes to complete the Indivisible Census today.
IndivisiWin of the Week
It’s hard to overstate how much we’ve loved seeing all your 51-star flag photos and videos. Keep posting them! And keep tagging us on Twitter (@IndivisibleTeam) so we can uplift you.
What We're Reading
Instead of sharing things that we’ve been reading with you this week, we’re sharing five things we’ve been watching with an ask that you help us spread the word and share these videos with your friends, family, and fellow Indivisibles on social media.
Last week's episode of Indivisible Weekly!
Our For the People Project Explainer.
How we're going to build a democracy that works for everyone, together.
Why D.C. statehood is a racial justice issue.
Why we've got to eliminate the filibuster to save democracy.
Or, if graphics are more your speed, we've got tons of them for you here!
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