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How Free Will Our Grandkids Be in 2043?

Jun 28, 2023 | Future, Government, Michigan, North Carolina, Rights | 0 comments

It will depend on where they live. America is truly the Land of the Free – more or less. States are free in different ways. If freedom is the condition in which you can make your own decisions without the interference of government, each state defines it a bit differently. This week, I thought I would benchmark the constitutional rights that are protected in Michigan and North Carolina.

Everyone in America lives under the U.S. Constitution and benefits from the Bill of Rights and other clauses in the Constitution that protect us from government bullying. We seldom think about the fifty other constitutions that govern the states, though. Each state has its own constitution that sets up a plan of government and outlines the rights their citizens can expect. Many of the rights mirror the federal constitution, but each describes a few additional, sometime quirky, rights.

Not all rights come from constitutions. When Michigan recently legalized recreational marijuana, it was enacted as a law, not a constitutional amendment. I am focusing on constitutions because they are the most difficult part of our legal system to change. That means that the rights listed in constitutions are the most likely to survive until the 2040s when the next generation steps into adult roles.

How do Michigan and North Carolina vary on constitutional rights?

To find out how Michigan and North Carolina vary, I set up a spreadsheet that compares their statement of rights. You can download it here:

Here are the differences in the Michigan and North Carolina constitution.

  • Both states declare the right of people to assemble peacefully and petition their lawmakers, but North Carolina adds, “…secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.” I like that. Hope it applies to dark money groups.
  • In the U.S. Constitution, the right to bear arms is tied to the need for a “well regulated Militia.” Michigan eliminates the ambiguity by saying that arms are also necessary for self-defense.
  • North Carolina says the courts shall be open so justice can be administered “without favor, denial, or delay.” Unlike some states, NC’s courts stayed open for business during COVID, although often by video-judge.
  • Both states added amendments with a detailed listing of the rights crime victims have as the police and courts handle their case. Good to know victims have rights, too.
  • Michigan’s Constitution eliminates the death penalty while North Carolina restricts it to the most serious crimes. Since Michigan and North Carolina have about the same murder rate, it’s probably not much of a deterrent.
  • Both states have provisions requiring them to maintain a system of free public schools. Michigan prohibits public funding of religious-based schools, but North Carolina does not. Wonder what Carolinians will think once their public dollars start supporting Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, and Wicca schools?
  • North Carolina states that in the public schools, “…equal opportunities shall be provided for all.” In Leandro vs. North Carolina, NC courts found that education funding is so slanted towards wealthy areas that equal opportunities are not being provided. Despite this 1997 ruling, the General Assembly’s education funding has fallen far short of what the court recommended to correct the situation. Have they read the equal opportunities clause?
  • Michigan has an amendment protecting the right to perform research on stem cells from human embryos. Since its passage, the University of Michigan claims it has become a world leader in research by using stem cells to treat diseases. Coincidence?
  • North Carolina has an amendment protecting the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife “forever.” Forever seems like a long time.
  • Michigan gives citizens the right to initiate ballot questions through petition drives. The ballot questions can relate to either overturning a law passed by the legislature, passing a new law, or passing a constitutional amendment. In North Carolina, that’s the General Assembly’s job!
  • Both states have provisions for the conservation of natural resources. You might wonder if it is working when North Carolina is losing 33 square miles of forest cover a year?
  • An amendment to the Michigan Constitution gives citizens the right to draw district lines for congressional and legislative elections through a nonpartisan redistricting commission. North Carolina leaves that job to the partisan General Assembly.
  • Both states have amendments for religious liberty. In addition, Michigan bans public money from being used for any religious purpose. I like the liberty to not support other people’s wacky religions.
  • Michigan grants voters the right to recall any elected official except judges. You might think North Carolina’s politicians are outstanding and never need to be recalled.
  • Michigan grants the right of “reproductive freedom.” This gives individuals the right to make all decisions about their pregnancy, including abortion, until a doctor determines that the fetus is viable enough to live outside the uterus. The North Carolina General Assembly would rather regulate reproductive health without the input of mothers and doctors.
  • Both states have similar qualifications for voters, but Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment making it much easier to vote than in North Carolina.
  • North Carolina has a clause prohibiting secession from the United States. Guess they concluded in 1865 that secession was a bad idea.
  • North Carolina has a clause saying that the people of the state cannot be taxed without the consent of themselves or their representatives in the General Assembly. Now that’s a good idea!

Which state will be more free in 2043?

When I started this deep dive, I tried to be impartial and just look at the facts. I really did. But now, I have to say the nod goes to Michigan. You have to give North Carolina credit for coming down hard on secret political societies, keeping its courts open no matter what, guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish forever, promising not to secede from the U.S, and taking a stand against taxation without representation. All good stuff.

On the other hand, I like Michigan’s measures to keep public money away from religious institutions (let them hold bake sales), eliminating the death penalty, keeping politicians out of reproductive health decisions, and giving citizens power over recalling officials, redistricting for elections, and initiating ballot measures. Also, good stuff, and maybe a bit more important? If my grandkids asked me where to settle to in order to have the most freedom in 2043, at this point I would have to say Michigan.




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