Manuscript Group 105
This descriptive inventory of the papers of the Constitutional Revision Commission in the University of Idaho Library was prepared by Judith Nielsen in June 1981.
"A Constitution belongs to the people. It must be a living document keyed to meeting their needs and answering their aspirations for Idaho." (Governor Robert E. Smylie to a meeting of the Constitutional Revision Commission, June 24, 1965.)
Idaho's first Constitution, adopted in 1889, was drafted in 28 days by a 72 man territorial convention as a requirement for statehood. It was worded to answer every conceivable question, objection, and prejudice, but did not grow out of or meet the local needs of the people. This concern with detail resulted in continual amendment; in 75 years 150 amendments were submitted to the voters, 71 were approved.
In 1965 House Bill 280 of the 38th Legislature (later Idaho Session Laws, chapter 317, 1965) authorized the creation of a Constitutional Revision Commission to serve until December 31, 1970. It was charged with conducting a thorough study and review of the Idaho Constitution and making recommendations for proposed revisions to be considered by the Legislature. The following Idaho citizens were appointed to the commission by the Governor: Douglas D. Kramer, Boyd A. Martin, Frank Seelye who resigned in 1968 and was replaced by E.B. Smith, Mrs. Eugene H. Smith, and Robert C. Strom. Those members appointed by the Legislative Council were Don G. Fredericksen, Orval Hansen who resigned in 1968 and was replaced by Robert M. Rowett, Darrell V. Manning, James C. McClure who resigned in 1966 and was replaced by Eugene L. Bush, and Perry Swisher. The other five members, Carl P. Burke, Raymond L. Givens, Russell Randall, James E. Schiller and Lloyd J. Webb, were appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
From the first meeting which was held June 24, 1965, through 1968 the commission met in more than 35 working sessions to study not only the Idaho Constitution, but the U.S. Constitution and the Constitutions of other states. Extensive material concerned with drafting a constitution was also studied.
The first draft of the proposed Constitution was completed in November 1968 and in 1969 twenty-eight hearings were held around the state. Following these hearings the commission made 32 changes in the proposed revision. In November 1969 the new revised Constitution was presented to the governor and the legislature. The 40th Legislature made several additional changes in the document after which it was approved by the required two-thirds of each house. The proposal to adopt the new proposed constitution was then placed on the November 3, 1970 ballot where the people of Idaho rejected it by a wide margin.
In its final report dated December 7, 1970, the commission urged the legislature to provide for continuing study in the field of constitutional revision and pledged the continuing assistance of individual members of the commission in assisting the legislature in any way possible.
Robert C. Strom's collection of papers from the Idaho Constitutional Revision Commission, of which he was a member, are contained in two file boxes. They include correspondence from the chairman of the commission and the chairman of the judiciary subcommittee, letters from state officials with suggestions for revisions, minutes of the full commission meetings in 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969, and minutes of the judiciary subcommittee for 1966 and 1967. Various drafts of the proposed Constitution, many of them annotated, are included as well as a variety of publications.
Divers subcommittees of the Legislative Council also worked on revising sections of the Constitution. Scattered minutes and memoranda of these committees are contained in the collection.
Among the more interesting items included in the miscellaneous material are the legal documents of the Smith vs. Cenarrusa case, the law suit brought against the State on behalf of the taxpayers of Idaho testing the constitutionality of having the voters vote on the entire proposed constitution, rather than article by article.
The contents of this archival collection are described in more detail in the following Description of Series.
The material in this collection has been divided first by organization, i.e., Constitutional Revision Commission or Legislative Council. Material in the Constitutional Revision Commission series was then separated into correspondence and minutes; all material is in chronological order. The Legislative Council material was separated by subcommittee and arranged alphabetically by keyword of the subcommittee.
Of the remaining material, all drafts of the proposed constitution, whether complete or by separate articles, were placed in another series and the remaining material was grouped in the miscellaneous section.
I. Constitutional Revision Commission Box 1
II. Legislative Council Box 2
III. Constitutional Revisions Box 2
IV. Miscellaneous Box 2
The correspondence in this series is comprised of letters addressed to Robert C. Strom of Craigmont, or copies of letters addressed to the commission. Only a few of Strom's outgoing letters are present. Letters were received from many state officials suggesting revisions in the constitution, and since Strom served on the subcommittee responsible for revising the judicial portion of the document, there are many letters from lawyers suggesting revisions of that section. The miscellaneous material contained in the correspondence folders is listed following the list of correspondents. Some minutes of the full commission and the judiciary subcommittee are also part of this series and are itemized following the correspondence material.
Constitutional Revision Commission Minutes, 1965-1969.
CRC Minutes in MONTHLY MATTERS (Series II), 1969-1970.
CRC Judiciary Subcommittee Minutes, 1966-1967.
Constitutional Revision Commission. Subcommittee on Judiciary. Article V, 1965.
Some committees of the Legislative Council also worked on the revision of the Constitution. The material found in each folder includes minutes of meetings and/or memoranda prepared by the Legislative Council Staff for the information of the committee. Although only the folder headings are listed below, the file cards maintained for this series contain a complete list of the contents. Several issues of the newsletter Monthly Matters which contain minutes of meetings and other related material are also part of this series.
Legislative Council Committees
Budget and Fiscal Committee
Committee on Criminal Code
Committee on Courts
Committee on Election Laws
Fire Prevention Study Committee
Committee on Liquor Laws
Committee on Local Government
Committee on Post Conviction
Committee on Public Depository
Timber and Timberland Assessment Committee
Committee on Tort Claims
Legislative Council. MONTHLY MATTERS, 1969-1970
This series consists of various drafts of the proposed Constitution or proposals for revisions to be incorporated in the new document. Listed below are the folder headings in this series with a brief description of their contents.
Drafts of the Revised Constitution, 1968
The text of the 1890 Constitution and the proposed revision of the same section are on facing pages.
Precedents in Other States
1. Idaho. Constitutional Revision Commission. "Constitutional Provisions of other states comparable to the provisions of the Constitution proposed November 25, 1968 by the Idaho Constitutional Revision Commission for the state of Idaho." 1968. 104 p.
2. Precedents in other state constitutions for provisions in proposed constitution for state of Idaho. (unpaged)
Proposed Revision ... (publication)
Idaho. Secretary of State. Proposed Revision of the Idaho Constitution. Boise, 1970. 74 p. The corresponding sections of the 1890 Constitution and the proposed revisions are printed in parallel columns; an explanation of the change is centered below the two columns.
Proposals for Revisions
This folder contains several memoranda, proposed amendments to Article III, two communications from Herbert A. Berman suggesting changes and a list of changes made September 30 and October 11, 1968.
Rewrites of Articles
This folder contains various versions of individual articles, often with notations which indicate that these copies were used for discussion purposes at meetings of the commission.
The final series in this collection contains material which does not belong in the other three series.
In 1970 Raymon L. Smith, on behalf of himself and all other taxpayers of the state of Idaho, brought a lawsuit against Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa to test the constitutionality of submitting the new proposed Constitution to the voters. Many of the legal briefs concerning this case are part of this series.
Also contained in this series are Governor Smylie's 1965 message to the legislature, the League of Women Voters of Idaho booklet A Look at Idaho's Constitution - Then and Now - 1889-1962, a digest of primary and general election laws dated 1970, the Constitution of the State of Idaho printed in 19631, Justice E.B. Smith's "Report of the Coordinator of the Courts" for 1966, several legislative bills from the 38th and 39th Idaho legislatures which deal with Constitutional revisions or amendments, and publications of constitutional revision committees in California, Maryland, and Washington.