Why North Dakota Wasn’t Technically a State Until 2012

Why North Dakota Wasn’t Technically a State Until 2012

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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. Hai aka how to make a 5 min video from a picture of the constitution, a map of the us, some text but mainly stock footage. So much stock footage! What about going back to your roots an making more original content again?

  3. Your overuse of those idiotic stock photos ruined what could have an interesting video. Had to stop half way thru your moronic ramblings.

  4. Haha lots of political jokes in this video I'm liking this and…..

    "What I call repugnant someone else might call Taco Bell"


  5. 2:15 So, I hear that Texas has an exemption allowing them to split into up to 5 smaller states at any time if they so choose without requiring approval from Congress?

  6. Just checked wikipedia, the star you remove at 1:42 is not North Dakota's as it is the 39th state or if your video is correct, the 50th one.

  7. This is a great video keep it up bro! I hope you had fun writing the script for the video so keep up the good work! You're the best at funny stuff.

  8. An interesting controversy, but it's much ado about nothing. It wasn't that the constitution of ND was in violation of the US constitution — it merely didn't require an oath of office. We all know from civil war history that the US (federal) Constitution is supreme over the constitutions of the state. If my state doesn't guarantee free speech, I still have this right because the federal constitution says so. Thus even if the state constitution didn't require oaths, they were still required under the federal constitution. "Repugnant" would be if the state constitution PROHIBITED an oath of office, thus placing it in direct violation of the federal constitution.

  9. The more interesting topic is how much money you can earn by producing stock footage of shaking your head or sitting on the couch.

  10. I know a lot of people like to joke but there have always been people living there: Indigenous Peoples. Peoples who have been betrayed by the US and their land stolen. This wasn't a hundred years ago. This was after World War II. In a post-Holocaust world the US was still stealing land away.

  11. So you're telling me my kindergarten teacher was technically lying when she said the 50 stars on the flag represented the 50 states?

  12. Well… The goal of the Sykes–Picot Agreement was to make sure no greater power should arise in the Ottoman Empires place (Be it Turkey it self or any other nation in the region). So by intend made to fracture region. At least that was the goal many French and English politicians had at the time. And if that was the goal then I would say it has worked great! I mean almost a bit to good since the region as a result have no real stability ether. How much this agreement was a failure depends on perspective. Both England and France did lose there possessions in the region for example. So by that measure it was a failure. Also a failure when it comes to stability. But there is no unifying great power in the region… so there is that… And I am not saying is a good thing. But is a thing that many of the original drafters valued. Of course they might have realised that having stability in the region would be more valuable if they knew what has transpired in the region up until today.

  13. Ohio wasn't confirmed as a state until 1953. I forget the whole story, but basically, the truth is, Congress forgot to confirm the Ohio was a state. They discovered their oversight, and fixed it.

  14. I have to state here the number of statements that you have stated the state word in this stateless state of North Dakota…state.

  15. I like how the opening shot is of a drone looking into Moorhead Minnesota rather than Fargo North Dakota. I don't blame you though, even though I live in Fargo, Moorhead is better.

  16. Interesting…

    As someone who lives in ND, the only thing I know about is this: it's a fucking shithole place to live.

  17. 0:35 – There’s so much more to North Dakota….. world’s largest hamburger was eaten here…. like as if that really matters…!!! Only an Fat Dumb American can say such an utterly stupid thing…!!!

  18. To all ye that say ND and Wyoming do not exist:

    I ‘ave been through that wild land call’d “Wyoming.” I am a traveling merchant mover, and in my movement ‘round about the northeastern territories, I ‘ave seen that vast, empty void of land. She is great and terrifying, and her winds howl like the naves seeking blood…Beware that land, for many who’ve cross’d her borders are ne’er to be seen again…

    Translation: I’m a truck driver and that bitch windy af out there my dudes stay safe

  19. There Were (Atleast) Two Times Where They Said "Agree," But Where The Captions Had Said "Argue." Inbetween them, Is One Exception.

  20. I went to North Dakota and I was surprised how much I liked it. Had to move back home though cause those winters be having me fucked up.

  21. Jesus Christ I'm eating taco bell delivery right now and I was literally just starting to unwrap my second double decker taco when you made that dis and you know what I'm not even mad you're totally right I can't help that I'm a monster

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