Constitutional limits on changing the name of a state?
dlaycock at virginia.edu
Sat Oct 23 07:54:55 PDT 2010
A 1911 SCT case,somebody v. Oklahoma, holds that Oklahoma can move its capital despite a contrary provision in its admission act. Equal footing,inherent sovereigny,etc. Changing its name seems analogous to me.
It might also help that RI&PP appears in the Constitution only in a provision that is no longer operative, apportioning reps in the First Congress.
On Fri, 22 Oct 2010 15:37:57 -0400
"Goldstein, Jared" <jgoldstein at rwu.edu> wrote:
>In November, voters in Rhode Island - officially, the "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" - will be deciding whether to change the state's official name to "the State of Rhode Island," dropping the vestigial and somewhat embarrassing "plantations" appendage. Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican Senator who is running for governor as an independent, declared that the state cannot change its name unless the U.S. Constitution were amended, because "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" is how the state is listed in the Constitution (see Art. I Sec. 2).
>A couple of local reporters called me (there are some advantages to working for the only law school in the state) and asked whether I thought Chafee is right. I don't think so because (1) as sovereign entities the states presumably had power to decide their names and other matters of sovereignty before the Constitution was adopted; (2) the Constitution does not allocate the naming power to the United States; and (3) the Tenth Amendment reserves to the States any powers not given to the United States.
>I don't know of any other times a state has changed its name and couldn't come up with a historical precedent, other than the general principle of reserved state powers. I'm also unsure whether the United States would be obligated to change any or all of its documents if the state decided to change its name to Eggplant or Utopia. Still, is there any reason to doubt the state's power to decide what its name should be?
>Jared A. Goldstein
>Professor of Law
>Roger Williams University School of Law
>Bristol, RI 02809
Armistead M. Dobie Professor of Law
University of Virginia Law School
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
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