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Maryland Constitution

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Maryland Constitution
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The Maryland Constitution is the fundamental governing document of the state of Maryland.


At approximately 47,000 words (including annotations), the Maryland Constitution is much longer than the average length of a state constitution in the United States, which is about 26,000 words (the United States Constitution is about 8,700 words long).[1]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The Preamble to the Maryland Constitution states:[1]

We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security thereof, declare:

Declaration of Rights

The Maryland Constitution begins with a "Declaration of Rights," which is similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights; however, like most state bills of rights, it is broader than its federal counterpart.

While the Declaration of Rights does state that "a well regulated Militia is the proper and natural defense of a free Government," it does not guarantee a right to bear arms.[1] In turn, this makes the Maryland Constitution one of the very few state constitutions that lacks the equivalent of the federal second amendment.

Maryland's Constitution also makes explicit the separation of powers doctrine, which is only implied in the federal constitution. The Maryland Constitution clearly states that "the Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers of Government ought to be forever separate and distinct from each other; and no person exercising the functions of one of said Departments shall assume or discharge the duties of any other."[1]

Article I

Article I of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Elective Franchise" and consists of thirteen sections.

Article II

Article II of the Maryland Constitution is entitled 'Executive Department" and consists of 24 sections. This article establishes the executive department and the governor at its head.

Article III

Article III of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Legislative Department" and consists of 66 sections. This article of the Maryland Constitution establishes the legislative department as the law-making body of the state.

Article IV

Article IV of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Judiciary Department" and consists of seven parts. This article establishes the judicial department as the system of courts.

Article V

Article V of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Attorney-General and State's Attorneys" and concerns the attorney-general as well as the state's attorneys.

Article VI

Article VI of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Treasury Department" and consists of six sections. This article establishes the treasury department.

Article VII

Article VII of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Sundry Officers" and consists of six sections, most of which have been repealed.

Article VIII

Article VIII of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of three sections. This article establishes the public school system for the state of Maryland.

Article IX

Article IX of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Militia and Military Affairs" and consists of three sections. This article is concerned with the state militia.

Article X

Article X of the Maryland Constitution has been repealed.

Articles XI - XI-I

Articles XI, XI-A, XI-B, XI-C, XI-D, XI-E, XI-F, XI-G, XI-H and XI-I concern the city of Baltimore.

Article XII

Article XII of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Public Works" and consists of three sections.

Article XIII

Article XIII of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "New Counties" and consists of two sections.

Article XIV

Article XIV of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Amendments to the Constitution" and consists of three sections, which together define how the constitution can be amended.

Article XV

Article XV of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Miscellaneous" and consists of 11 sections. This article is concerned with miscellaneous governmental provisions.

Article XVI

Article XVI of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "The Referendum" and consists of six sections.

Article XVII

Article XVII of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Quadrennial Elections" and consists of 13 sections. This article states that elections be held every four years.

Article XVIII

Article XVIII of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Provisions of Limited Duration: and consists of five sections. This article concerns provisions that will only last for a limited duration.

Article XIX

Article XIX of the Maryland Constitution is entitled "Video Lottery Terminals" and consists of a single section.

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions

Article 14 defines these ways to amend the Maryland Constitution:

  • Section 2 of Article 14 says that an automatic ballot referral to ask the voters of the state whether they wish to convene a statewide constitutional convention must be placed on the statewide ballot every twenty years starting in 1970.
  • Article XIV allows for the possibility that some proposed constitutional amendments may apply to only one county (or the City of Baltimore, which is governed independently of a county structure). In this case, Article XIV says that in order to become part of the constitution, the proposed amendment must be approved by a majority vote not just statewide, but specifically in the county (or Baltimore) to which it exclusively applies.

Notable amendments

While the average state constitution has been amended approximately 115 times, as of 2013, the Maryland Constitution had been amended almost 200 times. In 1972, an amendment created the current legislative districting system that the Maryland General Assembly follows, and in 1970, an amendment that created the position of Lieutenant Governor of Maryland was approved.

More infamously, in 1910, the Digges Amendment, which would have used property requirements to effectively disenfranchise many African Americans, was proposed; however, it was rejected by the people in the general election.

Constitutional conventions

Article 14, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution requires the Maryland General Assembly to ask the voters every 20 years, starting in 1970, about whether they wish to call a constitutional convention.[2]

The question was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Maryland, where it failed.


The state's 1864 constitution, written during the Civil War while the Unionists temporarily controlled Maryland, proved to be unsuitable in a state that still had a lot of Southern sympathies. That document, which was approved by a bare majority (50.31%) of the state's eligible voters, was designed to disenfranchise the approximately 25,000 Marylanders who fought for the Confederacy or in other ways supported it. Also, while emancipating the state's slaves, the 1864 constitution changed the basis of representation in the General Assembly to help keep power in the hands of the white elite.[3][4]

The Constitution of 1867 was drafted by a convention which met at the state capital, Annapolis between May 8 and August 17, 1867. It was submitted to the people of the Maryland for ratification on September 18 and was approved by a vote of 27,152 to 23,036. It took effect on 5 October, 1867, replacing the short-lived Constitution of 1864.[4] The state's current constitution is the fourth constitution under which the state has been governed.

See also

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External links

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