Amending the Minnesota Constitution: Context and

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Amending the Minnesota Constitution: Context and
David Schultz,
Hamline University
[email protected]



What is Minnesota’s
history with
amendments?
What has happened in
other states?
Why amend the
constitution and not
use ordinary
legislation?
Questions
State Capitol
Era
Date
Proposed
Adopted
Percentage
19th century
1858-98
66
48
73%
Progressive
Era
1900-1918
47
11
23%
1920s
1920-28
15
7
47%
Depression
WWII
1930-44
20
8
40%
Post WWII
1948-1972
38
26
68%
Contemporary
1974-2010
27
20
74%
213
120
56%
Total
Type
Proposed
Adopted
Percentage
Structure of
government
99
52
53%
Finance
(tax/bonding)
82
50
61%
Individual rights
17
12
71%
Regulatory
15
6
40%
Total
213
120
56%

Among the 12 adopted Amendments
addressing individual rights, four of them
restricted rights

Three dealt with jury trials
◦ 1890 allowed for verdicts by juries in civil trials
◦ 1904 abolish the requirement of a grand jury
◦ 1988 allow use of fewer than 12 in civil and nonfelony cases

One dealt with voting rights
◦ 1896 prohibited aliens from voting

Among the 12 adopted amendments
addressing individual rights, five enlarged
voting rights .


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1868 allowed Blacks to vote
1875 allowed women to vote in school
affairs
1898 allowed women to vote and serve on
library boards
1960 expand voting rights of Indians
1970 reduce voting age to 18


There are many years where multiple
amendments appear on the ballot.
Most amendments in any year:
◦ 1914, 13 amendments proposed, two adopted.

Second most amendments in any year:
◦ 1916, 8 amendments proposed, 2 passed


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Constitutional amendments generally not used to
restrict rights
Constitutional amendments generally have expanded
voting rights
Constitutional amendments generally have expanded
government capacity to tax and spend (exception is
with railroads and aid to religious schools)
Constitutional amendments never used to address
social issues (except one addressing rules of probate).
No amendments ever proposed to voters to address
alcohol, abortion, marriage.



31 other states have passed laws or used
ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage
6 states currently allow same-sex marriage
3 states besides MN this year have gay
marriage on the ballot
◦ Maine, Maryland, and Washington

Donald P. Haider-Markel & Kenneth J. Meier,
Legislative Victory, Electoral Uncertainty:
Explaining Outcomes in the Battles Over
Lesbian and Gay Rights
◦ 77% of those seeking to repeal the rights of
lesbians and gays were successful in doing so, and
in the 13 attempts to extend rights of gays and
lesbians, 84% were unsuccessful.

Same-Sex marriage already illegal in
Minnesota
◦ Baker v. Nelson, 291 Minn. 310, 191 N.W.2d 185
(1971)
◦ Minnesota Statutes, chapters 517.01 and 517.03

More than 30 states have enacted voter ID
laws across the United States


Allegations of voter
fraud or impersonation
at the polls
Needed to assure voter
confidence
Pro

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Evidence of fraud is
negligible
Highest voter turnout in
the nation
Potential
disenfranchisement
Costs to state, local
governments, and voters
–”The Costs of the
Proposed Elections
Amendment” MN
Citizens for Election
Integrity
Con
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
Supreme Court upheld voter ID in Indiana in
Crawford v. Marion County
Courts have suspended or invalidated voter
ID in Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
Wisconsin, and Missouri

What will the Elections Amendment actually
require?
◦ The need for enabling legislation

Minority rights fare badly in ballot initiatives
◦ Barbara S. Gamble, Putting Civil Rights to a Popular
Vote, 41 American Journal of Political Science 245
(1997)
 Measures aimed at limiting the civil rights of minority
groups were much more successful than other types of
initiatives and referendums. Between 1898 and 1978
found that only 33% of substantive measures
succeeded. These relatively low passage rates change
dramatically when the limitation of civil rights is the
subject of the proposal. Gamble found that 78% of the
74 civil rights measures that she studied resulted in a
defeat of minority interests.
◦ Why amend the Constitution?
◦ What is the purpose of a
constitution?
◦ Repercussion in amending the
Constitution?
Thank you.

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