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North Dakota Not a State: Constitution Error Goes to Voters

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Apparently North Dakota is not a state.

Well, it probably is, but despite 122 years of statehood, the North Dakota Constitution still isn't quite right.

Flouting the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, the state's executive branch isn't required to swear allegiance to...the U.S. Constitution.

Damn federalism.

If this doesn't make much sense, it's because it really isn't supposed to.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution requires legislators, executive, and judicial officers of the several states to take an oath to abide by its contents.

The North Dakota Constitution conveniently dismisses the state's executive officers from this requirement, only mandating an oath for legislators and judicial officers.

Whether this discrepancy erases North Dakota's status as a state is patently unclear, as there is no indication that anything like this has ever happened before.

Additionally, state constitutions often run afoul of the Constitution, including clauses that violate Due Process or Equal Protection. Though they need to amend the document, they aren't kicked out of the more perfect Union.

However, correcting this oversight has been the primary passion of 82-year-old John Rolczynski since he discovered it in 1995, reports MSNBC. He has repeatedly petitioned legislators asking for help, but has received little to no attention.

Until now.

State Senator Tim Mathern has finally stepped in, and now the people of North Dakota will decide next November whether they want to be a state.

Or whether they want to fix the North Dakota Constitution to comply with the U.S. Constitution, since they're likely still a state.

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