List of U.S. state constitutions

In the United States, each state has its own constitution.

Usually, they are longer than the 8,500-word federal Constitution and are more detailed regarding the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. The shortest is the Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1793 and currently 8,295 words long. The longest is Alabama's sixth and current constitution, ratified in 1901, at 357,157 words long. Both the federal and state constitutions are organic texts: they are the fundamental blueprints for the legal and political organizations of the United States and the states, respectively.

The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, provides that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The Guarantee Clause of Article 4 of the Constitution states that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." These two provisions indicate states did not surrender their wide latitude to adopt a constitution, the fundamental documents of state law, when the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

Typically state constitutions address a wide array of issues deemed by the states to be of sufficient importance to be included in the constitution rather than in an ordinary statute. Often modeled after the federal Constitution, they outline the structure of the state government and typically establish a bill of rights, an executive branch headed by a governor (and often one or more other officials, such as a lieutenant governor and state attorney general), a state legislature, and state courts, including a state supreme court (a few states have two high courts, one for civil cases, the other for criminal cases). Additionally, many other provisions may be included. Many state constitutions, unlike the federal constitution, also begin with an invocation of God.

Some states allow amendments to the Constitution by initiative.

Many states have had several constitutions over the course of its history.

The organized territories of the United States also have constitutions or organic acts of their own, if they have an organized government through an Organic Act passed by the federal Congress. These constitutions are subject to congressional approval and oversight, which is not the case with state constitutions. If territories wish to enter the Union (that is, to attain statehood), they seek an enabling act from Congress and must draft an acceptable state constitution as a prerequisite to statehood.

List of constitutions

The following is a list of the current constitutions of the United States of America and its constituent political divisions. Each entry shows the original number of the current constitution, the official name of the current constitution, and the date on which the current constitution took effect.

Federal constitution

No. Official name Date of effect Notes
1st Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union [1]
2nd Constitution of the United States of America

State constitutions

Note that constitutions of states that were independent prior to admission, and constitutions used by states while participating in the American Civil War are not counted.

No. Official name Date of effect Notes
6th Alabama, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Alabama
1st Alaska, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Alaska
1st Arizona, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Arizona
4th Arkansas, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Arkansas
2nd California, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of California
1st Colorado, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Colorado
2nd Connecticut, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Connecticut
4th Delaware, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Delaware
5th Florida, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Florida
9th Georgia, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Georgia
1st HawaiiConstitution of the State of Hawaiʻi [2]
1st Idaho, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Idaho
4th Illinois, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Illinois
2nd Indiana, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Indiana
2nd Iowa, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Iowa
1st Kansas, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Kansas [3]
4th Kentucky, Constitution of the Commonwealth ofConstitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
9th Louisiana, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Louisiana
1st Maine, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Maine [4]
4th Maryland, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Maryland
1st Massachusetts, Constitution of the Commonwealth ofConstitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [5]
4th Michigan, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Michigan
1st Minnesota, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Minnesota
4th Mississippi, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Mississippi
4th Missouri, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Missouri
2nd Montana, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Montana
2nd Nebraska, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Nebraska
1st Nevada, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Nevada
3rd New Hampshire, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of New Hampshire [6]
3rd New Jersey, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of New Jersey
1st New Mexico, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of New Mexico
4th New York, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of New York [7]
4th North Carolina, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of North Carolina
1st North Dakota, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of North Dakota
2nd Ohio, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Ohio
1st Oklahoma, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Oklahoma
1st Oregon, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Oregon
4th Pennsylvania, Constitution of the Commonwealth ofConstitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [8]
2nd Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
6th South Carolina, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of South Carolina
1st South Dakota, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of South Dakota
3rd Tennessee, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Tennessee
4th Texas, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Texas [9]
1st Utah, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Utah
1st Vermont, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Vermont [10]
7th Virginia, Constitution of the Commonwealth ofConstitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia
1st Washington, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Washington
2nd West Virginia, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of West Virginia
1st Wisconsin, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Wisconsin
1st Wyoming, Constitution of the State ofConstitution of the State of Wyoming

Federal district charter

No. Official name Date of effect Notes
1st District of Columbia, Charter of theCharter of the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia (Washington City in the District of Columbia) has a charter similar to charters of major cities, instead of having a constitution like the states and territories. The District of Columbia Home Rule Act establishes the Council of the District of Columbia which governs the entire district and has certain devolved powers similar to those of major cities. Congress has full authority over the district and may amend the charter and any legislation enacted by the Council. Attempts at statehood for the District of Columbia have included the drafting of two constitutions in 1982[11] and 1987[12] respectively referring to the district as the State of New Columbia.

Territorial constitutions

Organic acts

References

Bibliography

  • Bryce, James, viscount. The American Commonwealth (2nd ed., rev.; London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), vol. 1, p. [413]-445, [683]-724, et passim.
  • Hammons, Christopher W. (1999). Was James Madison wrong? Rethinking the American preference for short, framework-oriented constitutions. American Political Science Review. Dec. 1999.
    • The appendices to this article contain substantial data on state constitutions.

External links

  • The Green Papers: Constitutions of the states
  • The Green Papers: State constitutions, an explanation
  • The Green Papers: Links to state constitutions
  • Citings of Religious Influence in First State Constitutions
  • Early State Constitutions: revolutionary war era, before U.S. Constitution

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.