Technically, North Dakota Might Not Be A State

Via Ezra Klein, comes news of an intrepid North Dakotan who has insisted for years that there’s a flaw in the state’s constitution, and it turns out he might be right:

An 82-year old Grand Forks man has pointed out a constitutional flaw that questions whether North Dakota has ever been a state.

John Rolczynski points out the original state constitution left out the executive branch, the Governor and other high ranking officials when it explains who needs to take the oath of office. Rolczynski says that puts the state constitution in conflict with the federal one, making it invalid.

This spring, Senator Tim Mathern of Fargo introduced a bill to fix the constitution’s wording.

North Dakota voters will need to approve the constitutional amendment in November of next year.

John Rolczynski, Grand Forks: “I’m glad that I was able to see this thing corrected. It took 16 years for me, since 1995 to see the effort completed.”


Rolczynski is now hard at work trying to correct what he says is a second mistake in North Dakota’s constitution. He says the constitution states the Red River forms the entire eastern border of the State. However, Rolczynski points out it’s actually the Bois De Sioux River that forms the eastern boundary for 41-miles, from Wahpeton to the South Dakota line.

One wonders how Minnesota will feel about this discovery.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. tps says:

    I’ve never been able to figure why Minnesota wasn’t able to keep itswestern territorial boundaries when it became a state. They went all the way to the Missouri River back then. Maybe we can get the lost land back? lol

  2. PJ says:

    271-3 = 268
    268 > 266


  3. John Peabody says:

    Yes! Fargo is ours once more! Not to mention Lisbon…

  4. michael reynolds says:

    It certainly shouldn’t be a state. But that’s true of Wyoming and Nebraska and Rhode Island and others as well.

  5. John Burgess says:

    I’ll go contrary to Mr. Reynolds and suggest that every current county of every state should become a state unto itself, with two senators and one or more representative! Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll also declare Guam, the USVI, and Puerto Rico to be states.

    I love the smell of gridlock, any time of day!

  6. Trumwill says:

    Reynolds, Nebraska? If I were so inclined to re-territorialize states based on population, I’d probably put the limit somewhere below 1.8 million.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Soooo…. all laws passed in the last 100 years or so are null and void? (or at least the close votes) N Dakota no longer has any representation in congress????

    I smell a worm about to turn….

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Trumwill: Have you ever driven across Nebraska? It’s a billion miles of wheat. F–k those people.

  9. Albrecht says:

    interestingly North Dakota is also the only State with its own bank “Bank of North Dakota”….and also is experiencing a booming economy and it one of the few homogeneous states….wonder why now this “issue” is coming up under the Obama administration and Obama economy? Makes one wonder….

  10. NDCC says:

    NDCC 44-01-05. Oath of civil officers.
    Each civil officer in this state before entering upon the duties of that individual’s office shall
    take and subscribe the oath prescribed in section 4 of article XI of the Constitution of North
    Dakota. The oath must be endorsed upon the back of, or attached to, the commission,
    appointment, or certificate of election. The term civil officer includes every elected official and
    any individual appointed by such elected official; any individual appointed by the governor and
    required by section 16.1-09-02 to file a statement of interests with the secretary of state;
    appointed member of any state authority, board, bureau, commission, and council; and the
    appointed head of any state agency and agency division, whether the individual serves with or
    without compensation. Except for an individual appointed to fill a vacancy existing in the
    legislative assembly, the term does not include any individual receiving a legislative
    appointment. For purposes of this chapter and chapter 44-05, the term civil officer has the same
    meaning as public officer.

    The amendment is not necessary. It actually doesn’t matter if the amendment passes or not due to the above law. Only crackpots and Democratic senators from Fargo who need to get re-elected think it’s an issue.

  11. Mike says:

    All the mess were in now with the Fed, why decide to officially join the Union. Declare & Celebrate your Independence and you will have droves of people flocking to ND to get away from the Federal Tyranny so burdensome in other states.

  12. Sam Orez says:

    ND has a unique opportunity. I hope they secede (is that even necessary) and bring the entire Mountain West with them. A nice new country with wise people, few minorities and common sense.
    I hope they seize the opportunity. The novel I wrote in 1991 suggesting this event might just become a best seller!

  13. @Sam Orez: As a US History teacher I taught my students that North Dakota didn’t really exist since no had ever met someone from there, seen a North Dakota License plate, or ever been to North Dakota. The theory has taken on a life of its own and is all over space book now. I guess the flaws in the Constitution are moot.