In the spring of 1959, with the approval of the General Assembly and the signature of Governor Abraham Ribicoff, Connecticut officially proclaimed itself the “Constitution State.” The nickname, later emblazoned on license plates from Greenwich to the Quiet Corner, represented a claim on the state's place in constitutional history. Connecticut, the birthplace of what sympathetic historians and proud state residents claim was the Western Hemisphere's first written constitution, congratulated itself for helping develop a system of government that changed the world.1

Only six years later, the federal courts found Connecticut's constitution guilty of “invidious discrimination” against the state's residents and forced the “Constitution State” to completely rework its approach to political representation at a mandated and long overdue constitutional convention.2 Generations of failed attempts at reform had left Connecticut's legislature under minority rule, with the state's many small towns using their guarantee of equal representation in the state's...

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