Why North Dakota Wasn’t Technically a State Until 2012

Why North Dakota Wasn’t Technically a State Until 2012

This video was made possible by Skillshare. Start learning new skills for free for two
months at skl.sh/hai28. North Dakota is the type of place most people
don’t know much about—if you were to ask a random person on the street to name a fact
about North Dakota, they’d probably say to you, “hey man, it’s really weird that
you just came up to me on the street and demanded that I tell you a fact about North Dakota.” If you really pushed them, the best answer
they’d be likely to muster is that North Dakota is located north of South Dakota. But despite its oft-overlooked status, North
Dakota is much more than just a sparsely populated hat that sits on South Dakota’s head. It has the nation’s lowest unemployment
rate, it’s where the world’s largest hamburger was eaten, it produces most of the wheat that’s
in American-made pasta, and there’s probably other interesting stuff about it too beyond
the first three Google results for, “North Dakota Facts.” For example, until recently, it may not have
been a state at all. To understand why, we have to first look at
Article VI of the US Constitution, which says, “The Members of the several State Legislatures,
and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States,
shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.” While that might be less readable than Moby
Dick, what that section means is actually pretty simple: state officers from all three
branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—have to take an oath that they
will support the US Constitution, but here’s the problem: until recently, the North Dakota
state constitution didn’t require its executive officers—like the Governor—to take an
oath of office. That may seem like a minor issue, but if there’s
one thing autocorrect has taught us, it’s that small mistakes can have a big impact. Because of that omission, some experts argue
that North Dakota didn’t actually meet the qualifications for statehood, which means
that, until the state constitution was fixed, it was never actually a state. Now, to be clear, not everyone agrees with
that argument. After all, when it comes to the US Constitution,
getting everyone to agree is kind of like trying to have a nuanced debate in a YouTube
comments section: it’s scientifically impossible. Some Constitutional scholars argue that while
North Dakota’s state constitution did violate Article VI, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t
a state, as violating Article VI doesn’t affect Congress’ power to admit states to
the Union, which is laid out in Article IV, which says, “New States may be admitted
by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the
Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States,
or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as
well as of the Congress.” That section gives Congress the power to make
new states, and says not to put a state inside of another state, or to combine or separate
states without their permission. If only the British and French believed in
this whole, “not dividing pre-existing states,” thing when the took out the crayolas and drew
a bunch of arbitrary borders around the Middle East leading to much of the ethnic and geopolitical
conflict of tod… oh, sorry, too much? Those aforementioned restrictions are the
only ones on Congress’ state-making power, except, of course, for the unofficial rule
of, “no shirt, no shoes, too many democrats, not enough swing votes, no statehood.” Damn, who would have thought that this politics-related
video would get so… political? Given that Congress’ power to make states
is so broad, the question is, because Congress said North Dakota is a state, does that make
it a state regardless of whether or not it violated the Constitution? Normally, the answer would most likely be
yes—it’s still a state. After all, states violate the US Constitution
sort of all the time. When they do, there’s a lawsuit, and it
gets taken to the courts. For example, if Texas amended their state
constitution to require everyone to always root for the Dallas Cowboys, that would violate
freedom of expression, and thus the US Constitution, and the Supreme Court would strike it down—but
that would just mean that people in Texas don’t have to cheer for the Cowboys, not
that Texas wasn’t a state. In other words, the argument goes, the issue
of statehood and Constitutional compliance are separate. But here’s where things get tricky: North
Dakota’s statehood issue doesn’t stop with Article VI. See, the original law that made North Dakota
a state was something called the Enabling Act of 1889, and Section Four of that Act
declared that in order to become a state, North Dakota must make a state constitution—which
they did—but also that, “The [state] constitution shall not be repugnant to the Constitution
of the United States,” which is where we run into problems. That’s because, by violating Section VI
of the US Constitution, one could argue that the North Dakota state constitution was, in
fact, “repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.” It just depends on your definition of repugnant—something
I might call repugnant, other people might call, “Taco Bell.” But, if we believe that violating Article
VI is sufficiently repugnant, that would mean that not only did North Dakota violate Article
VI of the US Constitution, but by doing so, it also failed to meet the qualifications
for statehood set out by the Enabling Act of 1889, which was supposed to make it a state
and because of that, its statehood has always been illegitimate. Ultimately, the issue is now moot—a North
Dakota historian named John Rolczynski noticed the problem in 1995 and spent the next 17
years lobbying the state legislature—or, I suppose, what was then the territorial legislature—to
fix it. Eventually, in 2011, a North Dakota legislator
took up his cause, and got a constitutional amendment put on the ballot, which was approved
in 2012. So not to worry—North Dakota is definitely
a state now, which means we can all go back to treating it the way we always have: ignoring
it completely. You know, all of these problems probably could
have been evaded if only the writers of the North Dakota constitution were just… better. See, part of the issue was probably that back
then, they didn’t have Skillshare. That’s because Skillshare’s writing courses,
whether Storytelling 101, Creative Writing for All, or Creative Nonfiction, each help
you hone your writing skills which can help you in work, at school, or just with your
own projects. Effective writing is just one of countless
skills you can learn with any of Skillshare’s tens of thousands of courses. A membership to Skillshare is quite reasonable,
it works out to less than $10 a month, but by going to skl.sh/hai28, you’ll get two
months completely for free, and you’ll even be helping support Half as Interesting.

100 thoughts on “Why North Dakota Wasn’t Technically a State Until 2012

  1. Want to test if where you are is real? Suggest an HAI topic and then, if we use it, we'll ship a free t-shirt to you and, if you get it, you'll know where you are is real: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfUdlvw6YgU44J8AnM2U_ZvRMyvh_CUM51LYSqF5nYJB9d1-w/viewform?usp=sf_link

  2. Nonsense. This is just silly. It didn't violate Article VI. It would only have been even arguably repugnant to the Constitution if it forbade the oath of office. Even then, Article VI also contains the Supremacy Clause, which states that the Constitution and the laws passed thereunder "shall be the supreme law of the land, any Thing in the any Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary Notwithstanding". This North Dakota statehood question is a mere hoax.

  3. North Dakota fact:
    The tallest building in the western hemisphere is the KVLY-TV mast located near Blanchard, ND. It stands at 692 meters or 2,063 feet tall.

  4. As a Minnesotan, North Dakota is a wonderful secret place. Summers are paradise, and winter is brutally fun for snowmobiling. Acreage baby! Acreage!

  5. I see the Oregon State Capitol's House of Representatives Chamber at 2:45. Neato, I like the inclusion of that.

  6. There has been star in the American flag for them(there 50 stars, not 49), they have 2 US Senators with the same powers that any other State's US Senators have. They have the % of Reps in the US House of Representatives. They have electoral votes in the electoral college and the number they have is calculated the same as any other state. THEY ARE A STATE.

  7. This video was an amazing way to answer an question that you made up.

    (This is absolutely a joke I love your stuff man, keep it up)

  8. Just because they violated the constitution doesn't make them not a state. Worst-case (which I still don't believe is correct) is that the officers weren't officers of the state.

  9. So what national or state laws were on the books and enforced during this period of repugnantcy? If so then the law should not have been enacted if S. Dakota's vote mattered (in federal or state legislatures.)

  10. The only thing to do in North Dakota is watch football in Fargo and hockey in Grand Forks if you visit a dakota come to South Dakota we have like… two more things to do here

  11. I never realized quite how cheesy stock video footage was until I started watching your videos. Love the content! (but that copyright-free or cheap footage … yikes!)

  12. So…is someone going to sue to get back all their paid taxes, or any other thing that goes with being a member of the USA? I can imagine a criminal convicted of a federal crime in N Dakota going all the way to the SCOTUS to get their crime overturned.

  13. I would argue that it is a state, but it did not have any legislative, judicial, or executive offices since they did not take the correct oath. If the state constitution was moot on the subject of the oath, it is not in conflict, or repugnant, to the US constitution.

  14. …unless you vaporize the competition and make them into smoldering craters where they once stood, then it is most certainly possible to make everyone get along.

  15. ND's constitution didn't actually prohibit executive oaths of office, though, so there's a clear basis for finding that it's not repugnant to the US constitution. (Consider, for example, that there are states that haven't passed state constitutional amendments corresponding to the federal thirteenth amendment. They're still bound by the federal prohibition on slavery.) Perhaps it's a part of the federal constitution that should be reflected in state constitutions (the 2012 vote seems to suggest that ND voters agree it is), but it doesn't have to be.

    Personally, I think this is a pretty decent argument anyway, but even a bad argument for ND statehood would get through the courts, since they don't want to encourage reconsideration of everything that happened based on ND statehood.

  16. These guys could have done a face reveal pretending to be one of the stock clips they use and no one would know

  17. Fun fact: North Dakota has a lot of German, not like the rest of America that has a lot of Germans, but like a lot a lot, like the capital is called Bismarck type a lot

  18. I want to watch the video, but when I mouse over the thumbnail there's a guy shaking his head with thumbs down gesture 🙁

  19. The real test of it being a US state: Does it have Senators?

    Seriously, if your region has voting members in the US Congress than it's a US State. The legal minutiae really don't matter. Heck, at this point half the US Constitution is barely honored in a more than an "eh, close enough" fashion. And if you think the modern political realities that would force any new 'blue' states to be paired with new 'red' states are so crass and wrong, it was no better in the past. Ironically the only reason there is a North Dakota, rather than a single state of "Dakota" (it was a single territory) was that 1880s GOP run Congress decided they could spit the territory in order to get 4 new senators rather than just 2. Before that we always had to pair free and slave states.

  20. So, what about West Virginia? I’d wager that Virginia, at the least, disagreed with the creation of WV. At the best, Virginia abstained from expressing an opinion. But at the time they were pretty vocal about a lot of things…

  21. "-Something I might call repugnant, other people might call 'Taco Bell.'" There's something we can agree on! LOL

  22. Taco Bell is amazing. Not repugnant. If your content was’t so good I would almost want to unsubscribe because of your Taco Bell diss.

  23. This is a lot better than bright side and all those other channels, you’re underrated

    By the way, fun fact: the earth is a planet

  24. North Dakota: Became a state in 2012

    7 Years later…

    Youtube: Oh lets make videos on something that happened 7 years ago

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