This is an original proceeding in this court by a taxpayer to prevent the secretary of state from submitting to the voters a constitutional amendment proposed by Ex. Sess. L. 1959, c. 89, on the ground it is multifarious in contravention of Minn. Const. art. 14, § 1.
Chapter 89 proposes to amend Minn. Const. art. 4, §§ 1 and 9.
The amendment to § 1 would have the effect of permitting the legislature to extend the term of any session for not more than 30 days beyond 90 legislative days. The amendment to § 9 would have the effect of permitting legislators to serve as notaries and to seek election to other offices. The present prohibition in § 9 against a legislator holding any office which has been created or the emoluments of which have been increased during his legislative service until one year after the expiration of his term would be repealed.
Minn. Const. art. 14, § 1, provides that "If two or more alterations or amendments" to the constitution are submitted at one time, votes shall be permitted for or against each separately. It is contended that c. 89 provides for the submission of two constitutional amendments
It should be noted that c. 89 was approved July 2, 1959, but that the present action was not filed until August 24, 1960, when preparations were being made for the election. If purely private interests were involved, we would hold this delay to constitute laches, barring plaintiff from relief. However, a constitutional principle is invoked here in the public interest. The doctrine of laches is not properly applicable in this situation.
A number of states have constitutional requirements that where more than one proposed amendment is submitted, each must be presented so it may be voted upon separately.
However, while the cases use substantially the same language, it seems impossible to reconcile the results reached. In Winget v. Holm, 187 Minn. 78, 244 N.W. 331, this court held that a proposed constitutional amendment relating to the taxation of national banks and also authorizing income taxes was not objectionable as multifarious. On the other hand, Kerby v. Luhrs, 44 Ariz. 208, 222, 36 P.2d 549, 555, 94 A.L.R. 1502, 1510, held that a proposed amendment relating to the taxation of copper mines, the taxation of public utilities,
There seem to be two basically different attitudes exemplified by these decisions. The latter case takes a narrow and strict view of those propositions which may be joined in a single proposed amendment. In effect this requires that propositions which may be submitted separately without being incomplete shall be submitted separately. The broader and more liberal view, adopted by this court in Winget v. Holm, supra, is that propositions that might be submitted separately may be submitted in a single proposal if they are rationally related to a single purpose, plan, or subject.
These differing attitudes appear to arise from differences in emphasis of the objectives sought. The constitutional mandate that multifarious amendments shall be submitted separately has two great objectives. The first is to prevent imposition upon or deceit of the public by the presentation of a proposal which is misleading or the effect of which is concealed or not readily understandable. The second is to afford the voters freedom of choice and prevent "logrolling," or the combining of unrelated proposals in order to secure approval by appealing to different groups which will support the entire proposal in order to secure some part of it although perhaps disapproving of other parts.
Examination of the two parts of the proposal involved here shows clearly that they might easily and properly have been presented as separate amendments to the constitution. We are inclined to believe it would have been preferable to present them as separate proposals. However, this belief cannot be made the basis for a ruling that the propositions must be separately submitted.
Both parts of the proposed amendment have to do with a single article of the constitution and with the legislative department. While not necessarily related, they may be rationally related since both have to do with the burdens of being a legislator. It may have been thought that if legislators might be required to serve an additional 30 days,
In determining whether there is a rational relationship in purpose, plan, or subject of two or more propositions, we can, and indeed must, weigh the relative importance of the propositions. Most sections of the constitution contain a number of provisions, some of greater and some of less importance. It would obviously be unreasonable, even by the most strict and narrow view, to require that every alteration or amendment of any phrase, clause, or provision of the constitution be submitted for a popular vote as a separate proposition. Whether particular proposals can be combined, therefore, necessarily requires a judgment both as to the relationship between them and as to their relative importance.
For example, permitting legislators to serve as notaries, as is now proposed, hardly involves any significant change in our structure of government. On the other hand, it may be a great convenience to many members of the legislature. Accordingly, it can reasonably be included as a subordinate provision in an amendment which may require 30 days' additional service at each session. This does not necessarily imply that it would be proper to present as a single proposed amendment a provision for extending the term of the legislature and a provision establishing the basis of representation. We intimate no opinion as to whether or not these propositions might properly be joined, but use this merely as an illustration of propositions whose significance might require separate submission to the voters even though the present proposal is held proper.
Giving due weight to all of these considerations, there is serious doubt as to whether or not the apparently unrelated propositions of c. 89 may properly be proposed as a single amendment. However, we must also bear in mind that the courts owe great deference to the judgment of the legislature as to matters properly within its purview. It does not appear that permitting the propositions of c. 89 to be presented as a single proposal will frustrate the objectives of art. 14, § 1. The proposal is simple and clear enough to be understandable
The order to show cause is discharged and the proceeding dismissed.
KNUTSON, JUSTICE (concurring specially).
In deference to the opinions of a majority of my colleagues I reluctantly concur in the result. I can see no rational relationship between the two sections that would be amended by the adoption of this proposal. Obviously the people should have a right to express their opinions on each separately. I fear that what we are doing is to nullify Minn. Const. art. 14, § 1. However, amendments of whole articles of our constitution
MURPHY, JUSTICE (dissenting).
It is my view that Winget v. Holm, 187 Minn. 78, 244 N.W. 331, and the authorities discussed in it require a result contrary to the one reached by the majority. In that case we held that the provisions in a proposed amendment for the taxation of national banking institutions and the taxation of incomes are two related and dependent propositions germane to the purpose of widening the field of taxation. The proposal before us, however, may be clearly distinguished. It presents to the voter two unrelated subjects: (1) Extending the term of any session of the legislature for an additional 30 days; and (2) permitting legislators to serve as notaries public and seek election to other offices. These objectives are not germane to a common purpose. The proposal embraces two subjects having distinct and separate purposes.
Nor do I agree with the view of the majority that in determining the rational relationship of two or more propositions the court may weigh their relative importance. The procedure and requirements established for the amendment of the fundamental law are mandatory and must be strictly followed in order to effect a valid amendment. It is not for the court to consider the wisdom or expediency of changes in the fundamental law. The question for the court to decide is whether the legislature in proposing the amendment has observed constitutional requirements. For the foregoing reasons, I respectfully dissent.
MR. JUSTICE FRANK T. GALLAGHER took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
CHAPTER 89 — H.F. No. 11
"An act proposing an amendment to Article IV, Sections 1 and 9 of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, relating to legislative sessions and qualifications of legislators for other elective offices. "Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Minnesota:
"Section 1. An amendment to Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution of the state is hereby proposed to the people of the state for their approval or rejection, which section when amended shall read as follows:
"Section 1. The legislature shall consist of the Senate and House of Representatives, which shall meet biennially at the seat of government of the state, at such time as shall be prescribed by law, but no session shall exceed the term of ninety (90) legislative days unless the session is extended by law enacted at the regular session of the legislature immediately preceding the session for which the extension is made and then only for a maximum of thirty (30) additional days. No new bills shall be introduced in either branch of the legislature after the seventieth (70th) legislative day except as authorized by joint rules of the Senate and House of Representatives.
"Sec. 2. An amendment to Article IV, Section 9, of the Constitution of the state is hereby proposed to the people of the state for their approval or rejection, which section when amended shall read as follows:
"Sec. 9. No senator or representative shall, during the term for which he is elected, hold any office under the authority of the United States or the State of Minnesota, except that of notary public, but a senator or representative may be elected to any office for which he is otherwise qualified and when elected, his term as senator or representative shall terminate upon his qualifying for the office to which he was elected and a vacancy in his office in the legislature shall thereupon occur.
"Sec. 3. This proposed amendment shall be submitted to the people
"`Shall Article IV, Sections 1 and 9 of the Constitution be amended to provide for extending by law the regular legislative session for not exceeding thirty days, for restricting the time during which bills may be introduced; and for setting qualifications for legislators to be candidates for other elective offices?
"Approved July 2, 1959."