Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Happy Kansas Constitution Day!

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Constitution Day. The Court of Appeals sat in special settings at several locations around the state. Kansas schools focused on the history of the Constitution. Constitution Day, of course, celebrates the anniversary of the date the U.S. Constitution was signed at the Constitutional Convention (September 17, 1789). I appreciate and support the recognition for the U.S. Constitution. But where is the love for the Kansas Constitution?

On October 4, 1859, the voters of the territory of Kansas ratified the Wyandotte Constitution, which remains our state constitution to this day. But as Paige Nichols and Dan Monnat explained in an article last year, the Kansas Constitution is a lonely and forgotten document. They explained: "[t]he rights that many free-staters died facedown in the mud to secure are rarely treated as sovereign rights independent of the federal constitution." In fact, Kansas appellate courts frequently interpret the Kansas Constitution as a mirror of its federal counterpart (even when the language of our state constitution is different). However, part of the blame is on the practitioners, who rarely seem to raise Kansas constitutional claims separate from the federal issues.

So today, in an effort to promote the use and independent protections of the Kansas Constitution, I celebrate Kansas Constitution Day. Although it's not an official holiday (yet), I will be meeting with like-minded Kansans to honor the anniversary of the adoption of the Kansas Constitution (we will be meeting at Free State Brewery in Lawrence). I encourage you to join.

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