— In a Your View published June 7, Bob Jentges justifies the proposed constitutional amendment regarding marriage on the grounds that without it, a judge might rule our marriage statute to be in violation of the Minnesota constitution.
Apparently, he is worried about a situation such as in Iowa, where the marriage law was found to violate the Iowa constitution's equal protection clause. If there were any real chance of such judicial intervention, Jentges would be correct that an amendment would preserve the policy choice we made through our representatives. But an examination of the constitutions shows that what happened in Iowa could not happen here.
Our constitution simply does not have the strong equal protection clause that Iowa's does. Therefore, amending our constitution would work in the opposite direction, undermining our ability to express policy choices through legislation. Instead of stopping us from becoming another Iowa, it would stop us from becoming another New York, where the people through their representatives freely changed their policy choice, unconstrained by the state constitution.
Iowa's equal protection clause states, “All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.”
By contrast, Minnesota's equal protection clause is toothless: “No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.”
Note in particular the phrase “unless by the law of the land.”