On November 3, 2020, the same day as the general election, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico will be casting a historic vote to show definitively whether there is a majority in support of the territory’s admission as a state of the Union.
This is not just significant to the future of island, residents, but is also immensely significant to America as a whole. While some try to paint the issue as a merely partisan matter in terms of how it would benefit Democrats or Republicans, the reality is that the perpetuation of American’s century old colonial legacy in Puerto Rico not only hurts the island, but undermines America as a whole in terms of our values, civic participation, economic opportunity and the health of our democratic institutions.
Mainland Americans have a critical role to play because the Representatives and Senators they elect to Congress will decide whether or not to offer statehood to Puerto Rico following the plebiscite.
This Town Hall event will open space to learn about the value that Puerto Rico’s possible admission could bring to the United States, as we head into an election that will shape American democracy in the 21st century.
The event is being organized by PR51st which is a project of the PuertoRico Statehood Council a Washington, D.C. based, non-partisan, 501(c)4 non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the goal of equality for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood.
We believe that the core American values of freedom, democracy, liberty and justice must apply equally to all U.S. citizens including those in Puerto Rico. To achieve that goal, we are working to build a national movement of individuals, organizations and leaders from across the political and economic spectrum to pressure Congress to enact equal rights for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood.
Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus is a Professor of Legal History at Columbia Law School, where she teaches constitutional law and American legal history. Professor Ponsa-Kraus is the author of multiple articles on the constitutional law and history of American territorial expansion and empire, and co-editor of Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution. She holds degrees from Princeton, Cambridge, and Yale. Before joining the Columbia faculty in 2007, she served as a law clerk to Judge José A. Cabranes on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and to Justice Stephen G. Breyer on the United States Supreme Court.
John P. Caves III is the author of The New Model Federalist, a series of essays on applying classical principles to U.S. politics. He served in the Army on active duty from 2013 to 2017, reaching the rank of Captain, and holds degrees in international affairs from Princeton and George Washington University. He currently resides in Maryland and does research on nuclear nonproliferation at a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. Follow him on Twitter @NewMDFederalist.
Scott A. Olson is a freelance writer, a former congressional staffer, and a political partner of the Truman National Security Project. His opinion pieces have appeared in a variety of publications including The Hill’s Congress blog. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from George Washington University and a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law. He is currently writing a book on the history of federal policy in America’s insular territories. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_A_Olson.