Additions possible for Minnesota Constitution


Photo by Elise Truman

Government and history students spend time learning about our country’s Constitution and the ways it has shaped and been shaped by America. The countries constitution is not the only one that influences our lives. New changes have been proposed to the Minnesota Constitution.

Elise Truman, Online Editor

The United States Constitution was established in 1789 and is the supreme law of the United States. However, each state has its own constitution, focused more on day-to-day operations, as ordained by the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Minnesota’s constitution was established in 1858 and has nearly 120 amendments, such as freedom of religion, marriage equality, and right to trial by jury. Recently several new amendments have been proposed: such as legalizing recreational marijuana, electronic data protection, gender equality and stricter term limits for lawmakers.

As of 2018, nine states (including Washington, Maine and California) and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use by people older than 21. Many more states, including Minnesota, have legalized medical marijuana. The Pew Research Center has found that 62 percent of the U.S. are in favor of legalizing marijuana in some form. This is reflected in a Kare 11 report that says “nearly two thirds” are in favor of the legalization.

“I don’t think that it’s something that has that inherent negative and evil quality that people think it has,” junior Bella Anderson said.

As the Constitution was established in 1857, many of the laws are extraordinarily out of touch with modern society. Many of the protective rights granted to citizens neglect the fact that the internet exists, let alone that important information could be stored in a non-tangible way. This means that the traditional protection laws do not protect online information leaving it open to unwarranted searches and seizures.

“These laws don’t really cover a lot of things that are in our lives now, and it would be helpful if they were expanded,” junior Hatti Score explained.

I think that having an individual state law, even though it might be similar, can be beneficial for more specifics within the state.”

— Catherine Reed

When the Equal Rights Act was first proposed in the 1970’s it was a monumental thing for women’s rights. However now, nearly 50 years later, many have called attention to the fact that the amendment may not actually change much in anyone’s lives. However, the ERA, if enacted likely, would not hurt anyone either if it was passed. The federal ERA which was ratified in Minnesota reads “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” the Minnesota ERA says “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender.”

“I think that having an individual state law, even though it might be similar, can be beneficial for more specifics within the state,” sophomore Catherine Reed stated.

One of the best ways to ensure new ideas and opinions can get introduced is by imposing term limits on lawmakers, primarily the House of Representatives and the Senate. Term limits would also make sure that younger members with fresh eyes can come in, and more community members can have a say in their government.

“I think that it provides an opportunity for change that wouldn’t exist otherwise,” Anderson explained.

Through the proposal of these new amendments, multiple conversations have been started or restarted, and it will come time for the people to vote on them. Keep an eye on your ballot this voting season for any of these issues.