North Dakota may not really be a state

by Kyle Potter

Time magazine reported today what Minnesotans have expected all along: North Dakota is not a real state. At least not constitutionally.

Our neighbors to the west – who officially joined the United States in 1889 – forgot to include a stipulation in their state’s constitution  that requires its governor and other state officials to take an oath of office.

The U.S. constitution mandates that each member of the union swears in its executive officers with an oath, so North Dakota’s statehood is technically illegitimate. Apparently, then President Benjamin Harrison and his staff were too busy to read up on one of their newest acquisitions at the time.

Grand Forks resident John Rolczynski, 82, brought the issue to the state’s attention back in 1995. State Sen. Tim Mathern introduced a bill this year to fix it.

An amendment to a state’s constitution requires a vote at the polls, so that begs the question: Will residents have to answer the question “Should North Dakota become a member of the United States” on their ballots in 2012? How many people will vote no?

And even if North Dakota’s constitution is amended to require an oath, can a state whose capital shares the name with a jelly-filled doughnut really be taken seriously?