Some Perspective on Constitutional Amendments

RALEIGH – With a half dozen constitutional amendments to be featured on the November ballot, most of which are opposed by the Left and have already elicited two lawsuits, a little perspective on the amendment adoption history of our state and others, and just why they are proposed, is instructive.

Fortunately the Civitas Institute gave us just that with a piece that highlights some experiences of the Old North State, compared with other states, and shows that most of the time amendments are about a people placing limitations on government.

“Six is the highest number of proposed amendments since the adoption of the North Carolina Constitution of 1971. A quick review of proposed amendments since that time shows it was not unusual to see multiple amendments on the same ballot.

On two separate occasions in the 70s, five amendments appeared on the ballots. In 1982, five amendments appeared on a late June ballot along with two more on the November ballot.

Finally, North Carolina voters were asked to vote on three proposed constitutional amendments three different times between 1986 and 2004.

In total, voters have been asked to approve 45 possible amendments. Of the 45 placed on the ballot, 37 were approved. That works out to a little less than one new amendment per year.

For a bit of perspective, let’s look at how this ratio rank compares to other states.

Professor John Dinan of Wake Forest University is an expert on state constitutions and federalism. At a recent talk on the subject, Dinan said North Carolina ranks in the middle of the 50 states for adopting amendments. On one end is Vermont which adopts a new amendment only once every four years. On the other end is Alabama, which on average adopts eight new amendments per year.”


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