|I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XI • XII • XIII • XIV • XV • XVI • XVII • XVIII • XIX • XX • XXI • XXII • XXIII • XXIV • XXV • XXVI • XXVII • XXVIII • XXIX • Schedule|
- 1 Features
- 2 Preamble
- 3 Article I
- 4 Article II
- 5 Article III
- 6 Article IV
- 7 Article V
- 8 Article VI
- 9 Article VII
- 10 Article VIII
- 11 Article IX
- 12 Article X
- 13 Article XI
- 14 Article XII
- 15 Article XIII
- 16 Article XIV
- 17 Article XV
- 18 Article XVI
- 19 Article XVII
- 20 Article XVIII
- 21 Article XIX
- 22 Article XX
- 23 Article XXI
- 24 Article XXII
- 25 Article XXIII
- 26 Article XXIV
- 27 Article XXV
- 28 Article XXVI
- 29 Article XXVII
- 30 Schedule
- 31 Amending the constitution
- 32 History
- 33 See also
- 34 External links
- 35 Additional reading
- 36 References
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.
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 here.
The Colorado Constitution also takes a stand against racial discrimination, too, 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.
On the other side, the original constitution specifically puts off giving 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.
- See also: Preambles to state constitutions
The constitution's preamble states:
Article I establishes the boundaries of the state.
Article II contains the Bill of Rights of the citizens of Colorado.
Article IV establishes the powers and limitations of the executive department.
Article V outlines the legislative department.
Article VI frames the court system as well as the other sections of the judicial department.
Article VII deals with suffrage and elections.
Article VIII describes state institutions, such as the seat of government and its location.
Article IX concerns education in the state and that all public schools be free.
Article X concerns state revenue and taxation.
Article XI describes indebtedness at all levels of government.
Article XII concerns state officers, disqualifications, and removal from office.
Article XIII details the impeachment process.
Article XIV establishes distinct counties within the state. It also addresses the officers of these counties.
Article XV describes the privileges, responsibilities, and limitations of corporations.
Article XVI concerns mining and irrigation.
Article XVII describes the state militia.
Article XVIII has various miscellaneous sections.
Article XIX details the amendment process.
Article XX concerns cities and towns.
Article XXI concerns the recall of officers and the filling of vacancies.
Article XXII repeals the Intoxicating Liquor Laws.
Article XXIII has been repealed.
Article XXIV concerns old age pensions.
Article XXV concerns public utilities.
Article XXVI prohibits nuclear detonations within the state.
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.
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:
- Section 1 of Article V, which establishes the right of, and the basic rules for, initiated constitutional amendments.
- Article XIX, which establishes the basic outlines of how to amend the constitution through a constitutional convention or a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. According to Article XIX, the constitution can be changed through
- A constitutional convention. The Colorado General Assembly by a two-thirds vote of each chamber (the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado State Senate) can place a measure on the ballot asking the state's voters if they want a constitutional convention. The voters can approve a constitutional convention with a simple majority vote. Any proposed amendments coming out of such a convention are then to be submitted to a statewide vote of the people who can approve them by a simple majority.
- Through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
- Either chamber of the general assembly can propose an amendment.
- Two-thirds of each chamber must vote affirmatively for the proposed amendment in order for it to go on the statewide ballot for potential voter ratification.
- Ratification occurs through simple majority vote.
- Elections on legislatively-referred constitutional amendments must take place on the same days that general elections are held for members of the Colorado General Assembly.
- No one general assembly is allowed to propose amendments to more than six of the Colorado Constitution's 29 articles.
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.
- State constitution
- Constitutional article
- Constitutional amendment
- Constitutional revision
- Constitutional convention
- Lexis Nexis, "Colorado Constitution"
- Constitution of the State of Colorado, as currently amended
- Colorado Experience: Colorado Constitution on Youtube
- List of constitutional amendments since 1912
- Huffington Post, "Colorado Constitution"
- Oesterle, Dale A., and Richard B. Collins (2002). The Colorado State Constitution: A Reference Guide, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing.