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 Replies to “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. I lived here my entire life gone to the state capital it is a state they send representatives and everything and states break the law every time and are still a state look at California for example

  3. Don't forget about how slavery was technically legal until 2013 because Mississippi (where I live) procrastinated sending the signed bill.

  4. A reasonable counter argument to the last point is that, unless the North Dakota constitution specifically states that state and local officials are NOT to take an oath, or specified an OPPOSING oath, it isn’t actually VIOLATING Article 6, just failing to MENTION it. If the constitution of North Dakota never mentions any oath of office, it was probably an oversight, and as Alex Trebek says whenever all three contestants miss a clue and lose the same amount of money, “no harm, no foul.”

    Ohio, being the first state created from land not part of an original state, never got the official document from Congress that ALL SUBSEQUENT STATES got, until someone noticed the omission in the late 20th century (1990s I think), Congress passed and created that missing document for Ohio, and all was OK again.

  5. GUYS!! Google images of North Dakota!!! Funniest thing ever!! Literally every single picture is/looks like it’s photoshopped, is actually of South Dakota, or its a computer generated picture 😂 ps also google “North Dakota isn’t real” literally read the articles they are hilarious

  6. So, is North Dakota really the "50th" State? How many other States are dealing with similar issues of not adhering to the constitution?

  7. 1:51 Getting everyone to agree is kinda like trying to have a nuanced debate in a youtube comment section. It's scientifically impossible.

    Me: Observe
    ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️

  8. North Dakota loses millions of dollars of tourism revenue every year beacuse the north part of their name inplyes that it's cold and empty.

  9. The fault lies with Congress. They approved statehood despite the fact that there was no oath clause in North Dakota's Constitution.

  10. But, how many times did the Electoral Votes from North Dakota make the difference in who was elected President? How many laws were passed by a margin where the absence of North Dakota's Representatives or Senators made the difference? Are there laws passed by Congress because of the votes from North Dakota that should be rendered moot retroactively?

  11. Repugnant: 1-Extremley distasteful, unacceptable 2-In conflict with; incompatible with 3-Given to stubborn resistance.

  12. So every Presidential candidate who got North Dakota's 3 Electoral College votes in the 2012 election and earlier (back to 1889 when N. Dakota became a state) needs to have 3 electoral votes taken away from their total, retroactively. Of course, since the closest margin of victory during that time period was 4 electoral votes (G.W. Bush 271, Al Gore 266 in the 2000 election) that would affect precisely zero elections. (Bush would still win 267 to 266, even after removing N.D.'s 3 electoral votes from his total…) So the fact that North Dakota wasn't a real state until 2012 really doesn't matter at all to anyone anywhere. LOL.

  13. EVERYONE Please go to Movetoamend (dot) org and Represent (dot) us. Sign the petition and get involved! Our political system has been rigged against "We the people" for the benefit of large corporations for far too long. Call your representatives and tell them to co-sponsor HJR 48, the "We the people" amendment, to say that 1) a corporation is not a person and 2) money is not free speech. It's time for the people to rise up and claim in one voice that we will be heard!

  14. Hey guys, use a Web Mercator projection on your maps. It helps avoid that smushed look. Other than that, love the channel!

  15. Wait then if North Dakota wasn't a state until 2012….then what the hell has my elementary school been drilling into to me saying that it was!!?!? Wtf?!

  16. good job being a thinly veiled pro democrat rag… choose a red state that technically wasn't a state… Congress approved and granted statehood and without any form of challenge this approval stands. but now you had to make a 5 minute videon on a red state. go back to an actual violation of the constitution like california grant non citizens the right to vote in local elections

  17. It’s amazing the length that so-called “intellectuals” will go to blame everyone except Islam for problems in the Middle East.

  18. So people part of North Dakota prior to 2012 were not u.s citizens? They could of done literally whatever they wanted, because they were not bound by any country's rules? Also, why didn't North Dakota just become it's own country or joined another country? Italy would be an excellent choice (pasta)

  19. Who decides what constitutes "Repugnant to the Constitution" and what isn't?
    What if a state's Constitution made the position of Governor hereditary? Or if the Governor was automatically the head of a single particular Political Party, ala a one party state? Or even if they just instituted a Westminster system, where whichever party got the most seats got to appoint Governor, Lt Governor and Attorney General? That's an awfully vague line.

  20. make a half as interesting video on how South Dakota unironically hates it's native americans even though it was one of the most prominent native lands before conquering

  21. Please learn the difference between Legislature and Legislator as they are completely different things. Then learn to use the proper one at the proper time. And slow the fk down.

  22. ND fun fact: Parking Meters on public streets were band because one farmer was pissed off enough after not feeding the meter he started a one man crusade against it. For the past 70 years any effort to reinstate them has been shot down making ND the only state to outlaw parking meters.

  23. Half as Interesting: “If only the British and French believed in this whole, ‘not dividing pre-existing states,’ thing when they 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?”

    Half as Interesting: Goes back to talking about North Dakota

    Africa: “Am I a joke to you?”

  24. If you asked me for facts about North Dakota, I would tell you all about their sad capitol building, and the sad story of its construction.

  25. I love North Dakota i don’t really know why it’s a beautiful state and I have this same love for many states and countries which is probably weird…LOL.

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