Amending the Minnesota Constitution: Context and Questions David Schultz, Hamline University firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions about amending the Constitution • 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
Individual Rights Amendments • Among the 12 adopted Amendments addressing individual rights, four of them restricted rights
Rights Restricting Amendments • 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 non-felony cases • One dealt with voting rights • 1896 prohibited aliens from voting
Minnesota Voting Rights • Among the 12 adopted amendments addressing individual rights, five enlarged voting rights .
Voting Rights History • 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
Constitutional Amendments often come in bunches • 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
Observations on the Minnesota Amending Process • 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.
Gay Marriage Laws • 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
Gay Rights at the Ballot • 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.
Minnesota and Gay Marriage • 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
Voter ID laws • More than 30 states have enacted voter ID laws across the United States
Why Voter ID? • Allegations of voter fraud or impersonation at the polls • Needed to assure voter confidence • 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 Pro Con
Voter ID in other States • 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
Unanswered Questions • What will the Elections Amendment actually require? • The need for enabling legislation
Ballot Initiatives and Individual Rights • 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 constitutional politics? • Why amend the Constitution? • What is the purpose of a constitution? • Repercussion in amending the Constitution?
Conclusion and Questions Thank you.