|I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XI • XII • XIII • XIV|
- 1 Features
- 2 Preamble
- 3 Article I: Declaration of Rights
- 4 Article II: Of the Distribution of Powers
- 5 Article III: Of the Legislative Department
- 6 Article IV: Of the Executive Department
- 7 Article V: Of the Judicial Department
- 8 Article VI: Of the Qualifications of Electors
- 9 Article VII: Of Religion
- 10 Article VIII: Of Education
- 11 Article IX: Of Impeachments
- 12 Article X: Of Home Rule
- 13 Article XI: General Provisions
- 14 Article XII: Of Amendments to the Constitution
- 15 Article XIII: Of Constitutional Conventions
- 16 Article XIV: Of the Effective Date of This Constitution
- 17 Amending the constitution
- 18 History
- 19 See also
- 20 External links
- 21 Additional reading
- 22 References
Connecticut established the first constitution in the American colonies. Named the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," it was adopted by representatives of Wethersfield, Windsor and Hartford. Roger Ludlow, a lawyer, wrote much of the Fundamental Orders and presented a binding and compact frame of government that put the welfare of the community above that of individuals. It was also the first written constitution in the world to declare the modern idea that "the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people." In 1662, the Charter of Connecticut superseded the Fundamental Orders; though the majority of the original document's laws and statutes remained in force until 1818.
- See also: Preambles to state constitutions
The preamble to the Connecticut Constitution states:
Article I is analogous to the United States Bill of Rights, providing rights to speech, assembly, speedy trial, bearing of arms and religion, among others.
Article II establishes three branches of government in the state: legislative, executive, and judicial.
Article III creates a two-house legislature, sets standards for districting, elections and ethics.
Sets terms, requirements, and powers of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer and comptroller.
Article V establishes supreme, superior, and lesser courts, and the rules that govern how judges are chosen.
Article VI lists age and residency requirements for voters.
Article VII reiterates the right to free practice of religion.
Article VIII charters a free elementary school school system, the University of Connecticut and Yale College.
Article IX sets rules for impeachment and treason trials.
Article X gives the general assembly the right to delegate authority to cities and towns.
Article XI addresses the oath of office, restrictions on salary raises and other miscellaneous rules.
Article XII establishes the method of amending the state constitution.
Article XIII creates the method of calling for a special convention to amend or revise the constitution.
Article XIV how the constitution became effective after approval by a popular vote and proclamation by the governor.
Amending the constitution
- See also: Amending state constitutions
The Connecticut Constitution can be amended in these ways:
- If an amendment is approved by a majority (but less than 75%) of the total membership of each chamber, it is then continued to the next session of the legislature. If the amendment is again approved by a majority, it is then put to a statewide vote of the people. If they approve it by a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.
- However, if the proposed amendment is approved by a 75% or more vote of both chambers of the legislature, it doesn't have to be considered in two consecutive legislative sessions and can instead be put to a vote of the people at the next November general election.
- Elections on proposed amendments are to take place in Novembers of even-numbered years.
- Two-thirds of each legislative chamber must vote for a convention.
- The legislature is not allowed to do this less than ten years after a prior convention.
- Any proposed amendments that arise out of a convention are to be put to a statewide vote where, if they are approved by a simple majority of those voting, become part of the state's constitution.
- Article XIII provides for an automatic ballot referral to the state's electors of whether to hold a constitutional convention; these questions are to be put before the people at intervals not exceeding every twenty years.
Connecticut is known as the "Constitution State," and while the origin of this nickname is unknown, many believe it is rooted in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638) is considered by many to be the state's first constitution, although it was adopted while the state was still an English colony. The document recognized no allegiance to England but instead an independent government. The Charter of the Colony of Connecticut (1662) officially superseded the Fundamental Orders, but the local government continued operating under the previous rules. Even after the American Revolutionary War, the state retained its same constitution for another 40 years.
It was not until the passage of the first state constitution in 1818 that the colonial charter was abolished and political ties to England were officially broken. The constitution is also notable for having reversed the earlier Orders and provided the freedom of religion.
The Charter Oak became a symbol of the independence of the people of this state, when King James II revoked the Connecticut Charter in 1687. Preventing Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros from getting his hands on it, Joseph Wadsworth stole the document and is said to have hidden it in the hollow of an oak tree on Samuel Wylly's property.
On October 1, 1901, Connecticut residents voted nearly 2-to-1 in favor of calling of a constitutional convention to revise the constitution. A convention was held, and a revised constitution was proposed. On June 16, 1902, residents rejected the revised constitution more than 2-to-1.
- State constitution
- Constitutional article
- Constitutional amendment
- Constitutional revision
- Constitutional convention
- Connecticut Constitution
- Roland, Jon. The Constitution Society, "The Fundamental Orders," accessed January 14, 2007.
- The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, "Fundamental Orders," Columbia University Press (2005), accessed February 27, 2014.
- Horton, Wesley W. (2012). The Connecticut State Constitution, New York, New York: Oxford University Press
- Connecticut State Library, "Connecticut Constitution", accessed March 26, 2014
- History.com, "The first colonial constitution", accessed March 26, 2014
- Horton, Wesley W. (1993). The Connecticut State Constitution: A Reference Guide, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. OCLC 27066290
- Netstate.com, "The state of Connecticut", accessed March 26, 2014