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Student Projects

Our students apply their knowledge to real-world issues.

Mickey Terlep '16  &
Leif Anderson '15

Use of the Indiana State Constitution as a Legislative Tool

In early 2014, as Indiana lawmakers were considering House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR-3), a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage -- already banned by state law -- political science majors Mickey Terlep and Leif Anderson spent Winter Term investigating the history of constitutional amendments in the state. Terlep and Anderson later traveled to Indianapolis to share their findings during testimony in the Indiana Statehouse. [View a cell phone video of the testimony here. (YouTube)]

The AP's Tom LoBianco wrote:

Meanwhile, DePauw University student Mickey Terlep has quietly worked the halls of the Statehouse, delivering research that shows the history of alterations to the state's constitution. He did the research with fellow DePauw student Leif Anderson.

Carrying a chart of alterations to the state constitution since it was written in 1851, Terlep outlined how changes for many years consisted of conforming with federal amendments (such as granting African-Americans and women the right to vote) or altering the structure of government (such as allowing governors to serve two consecutive terms.)

But Terlep says lawmakers increasingly use the state's constitution to write laws instead of following the traditional process of passing bills through the House and Senate on their way to the governor's desk and eventually the state code.

“This transformation raises the question: 'Why have lawmakers sought to use constitutional amendments as a means for enacting specific public policies?'” Terlep told members of the House Elections and Apportionment Committee.

[...]

“I believe HJR-3 is an example, along with other amendments such as the property tax cap … of the older generation attempting to lock in their views and impose them upon my generation,” Terlep said.

Though the House committee approved the resolution, the Senate ultimately passed a watered-down version of HJR-3 that removed a ban on same-sex civil unions from the resolution's language. This change, while necessary to garner support for the resolution's passage, eliminated the possibility of it appearing on the ballot before the 2016 election -- a delay that will most likely defeat the amendment in the voting booth.