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Port: Bill funding Roosevelt Presidential Library sure seems like it’s unconstitutional

Theodore Roosevelt campaigning in Yonkers, N.Y., Oct 17, 1912. Library of Congress

I support the Legislature funding the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora. It’s been much derided by some who make fiscally conservative arguments against it, but I don’t buy it. The state has a role to play when it comes to preserving history. Roosevelt’s legacy is indelibly tied to our state. He doesn’t already have a library. There is a real opportunity to add a crowd pleasing yet still academically important facility to the tourism jewel that is Medora.

All that being said, the manner by which the state Senate went about authorizing some funding for the project seems unconstitutional as The Minuteman Blog has pointed out.

Article IV, Section 13 of North Dakota’s constitution states, in part:

"No law may be enacted except by a bill passed by both houses, and no bill may be amended on its passage through either house in a manner which changes its general subject matter. No bill may embrace more than one subject, which must be expressed in its title; but a law violating this provision is invalid only to the extent the subject is not so expressed."

The intent of this constitutional language is clear. It exists to prevent the sort of gamesmanship we see at the federal level, where pet projects and controversial provisions are slipped into unrelated bills so that they are approved by lawmakers who are either unaware or forced into a sort of Sophie’s choice between the overall bill and an odious amendment to it.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the library legislation.

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