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I WAS DISMAYED TO read the following statement attributed to Jamin Raskin in “Taking Liberties” (2/2): “If the ACLU really wanted to help the District and really cared about freedom, it would actively support. [D.C.] statehood.”
Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Mary Jane DeFrank, the ACLU’s National Capital Area office has, in fact, been one of statehood’s staunchest allies. Prior to a historic first vote on D.C. statehood in the House of Representatives in 1993, DeFrank lobbied indefatigably on Capitol Hill, working in tandem with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
Representing the local ACLU, she became intimately involved in countless planning and strategy sessions as coordinator for Citizens for New Columbia, a pro-statehood grass-roots group which helped galvanize citizen participation in civil disobedience and congressional lobbying prior to the initial House vote.
Moreover, DeFrank has steadfastly supported the legal initiatives of the Statehood Solidarity Committee, which has filed international human rights complaints with the Organization of American States and the United Nations on behalf of District residents.
While the U.S. Constitution precludes any successful legal challenge in U.S. courts arising from the lack of congressional representation, the ACLU has nevertheless taken up the political gauntlet and contributed mightily over many years to the campaign for D.C. statehood.
Perhaps Professor Raskin was unaware of the truly substantial contribution that the ACLU, and most especially DeFrank, has made on behalf of D.C. statehood.
Statehood Solidarity Committee
Fort Reno Park