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Copyright (c) 1994 William Mitchell Law Review
William Mitchell Law Review


Spring, 1994

20 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 287


Fred L. Morrison *


I. Introduction

Minnesota has three state constitutions. This may be unique in the constitutional history of the United States. The state has one of the shortest and most modern state fundamental laws, a revised text of which was adopted in 1974. 1 That constitution is, however, only an amendment and simplification of the previous constitution, adopted by the people in 1857, which became the basic law of the state when Minnesota was admitted to the Union in 1858. But the 1857 constitution itself had two separate authentic texts - somewhat different in detail - that originated in separate constitutional conventions. Since the 1974 constitution is simply a restatement of their text(s), Minnesota has the luxury of three fundamental laws.

The use of state constitutions is experiencing a comeback, and the Minnesota Constitution is no exception. The brief introduction to the Minnesota Constitution contained in part II explores why Minnesota courts increasingly look homeward first to resolve constitutional challenges. Part III then summarizes the his tory of Minnesota's constitution and takes the reader on a "short tour" of the document. Part IV recommends a procedural approach for an invocation of state constitutional law. Part IV goes on to compare differences in language between the federal and Minnesota Constitutions as grounds for an independent state analysis. The section concludes by pointing out other sources of individual rights protection in the Minnesota Constitution.

II. Background in the Application of State Constitutions

Across the nation, state constitutional law has recently ...
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