Colorado Constitution

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Colorado Constitution
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The Colorado Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Colorado. It was drafted in March of 1876 and ratified by the state's voters on July 1, 1876, taking effect a month later on August 1, 1876 when Colorado became a state. The constitution includes a preamble and 29 sections.[1]


Unlike many other states that have adopted wholesale new constitutions from time-to-time, the current constitution of Colorado is the only constitution the state has ever had. It has 27 articles and a schedule.[1]

In addition, the Colorado Constitution exceeds the U.S. Constitution in protections of free speech. The U.S. Constitution bars lawmakers from enacting rules "abridging the freedom of speech," but the Colorado Constitution does that and goes one further, spelling out a citizen's right to "speak, write or publish whatever he will on any subject." This clause has come into play in recent obscenity cases, limiting censorship.[2]

The Colorado Constitution also takes a stand against racial discrimination, guaranteeing education to be free and available to all, regardless of skin color. Coming just a decade after the Civil War, an affirmative position like that was viewed as progressive.[2]

On the other side, the original constitution did not give women the right to vote. The notion of women's suffrage was a movement by 1876, so this was a deliberate act and a clear stand that didn't last all that long in hindsight.[2]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The constitution's preamble states:

We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, in order to form a more independent and perfect government; establish justice; insure tranquility; provide for the common defense; promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the "State of Colorado."[1]

Colorado Constitution Articles

  • Article I: Article I establishes the boundaries of the state.
  • Article II: Article II contains the Bill of Rights of the citizens of Colorado.
  • Article III: Article III declares the state government shall be divided into three distinct divisions, the legislative, executive and judicial.
  • Article IV: Article IV establishes the powers and limitations of the executive department.
  • Article V: Article V outlines the legislative department.
  • Article VI: Article VI frames the court system as well as the other sections of the judicial department.
  • Article VII: Article VII deals with suffrage and elections.
  • Article VIII: Article VIII describes state institutions, such as the seat of government and its location.
  • Article IX: Article IX concerns education in the state and that all public schools be free.
  • Article X: Article X concerns state revenue and taxation.
  • Article XI: Article XI describes indebtedness at all levels of government.
  • Article XII: Article XII concerns state officers, disqualifications, and removal from office.
  • Article XIII: Article XIII details the impeachment process.
  • Article XIV: Article XIV establishes distinct counties within the state. It also addresses the officers of these counties.
  • Article XV: Article XV describes the privileges, responsibilities, and limitations of corporations.
  • Article XVI: Article XVI concerns mining and irrigation.
  • Article XVII: Article XVII describes the state militia.
  • Article XVIII: Article XVIII has various miscellaneous sections.
  • Article XIX: Article XIX details the amendment process.
  • Article XX: Article XX concerns cities and towns.
  • Article XXI: Article XXI concerns the recall of officers and the filling of vacancies.
  • Article XXII: Article XXII repeals the Intoxicating Liquor Laws.
  • Article XXIII: Article XXIII has been repealed.
  • Article XXIV: Article XXIV concerns old age pensions.
  • Article XXV: Article XXV concerns public utilities.
  • Article XXVI: Article XXVI prohibits nuclear detonations within the state.
  • Article XXVII: Article XXVII establishes the Colorado Great Outdoors Program, which is dedicated to the preservation, protection, enhancement and management of the state's wildlife, park, river, trail and open space heritage.
  • Article XXVIII: Article XXVIII outlines the campaign and political finance process for candidates and public officeholders.
  • Article XIX: Article XIX establishes ethics in the state government.
  • Article XX: Article XX concerns home rule cities and towns.
  • Article XXI: Article XXI concerns recall from office.
  • Article XXII: Article XXII has been repealed.
  • Article XXIII: Article XXIII has been repealed.
  • Article XXIV: Article XXIV concerns old age pensions.
  • Article XXV: Article XXV concerns public utilities.
  • Article XXVI: Article XXVI concerns nuclear detonations.
  • Article XXVII: Article XVII concerns the Great Outdoors Colorado Program.
  • Article XXVIII: Article XXVIII relates to campaign and political finance.
  • Article XXIX: Article XXIX concerns ethics in government.


The Schedule is included to facilitate the transformation of Colorado from a territory to a state.

Amending the constitution

Main article: Amending state constitutions

There are three different ways to amend the Colorado Constitution. These paths to amendment are laid out in two different parts of the constitution:


Versions of the original Colorado Constitution were officially printed in Spanish, for those who considered themselves residents of "Estado de Colorado," and German, for recent immigrants living in "Staates Colorado." This multi-language effort was meant mainly to appease Spanish speakers in the state's south and recent immigrants to the Colorado area.[2]

See also

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