West Virginia Constitution

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West Virginia Constitution
Seal of West Virginia.svg.png
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIV
The Constitution of West Virginia is the basic governing document for the state of West Virginia.

Features

The West Virginia Constitution consists of a preamble followed by 14 articles

Preamble

See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the West Virginia Constitution states:

Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia, in and through the provisions of this Constitution, reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God and seek diligently to promote, preserve and perpetuate good government in the state of West Virginia for the common welfare, freedom and security of ourselves and our posterity.[1]

Article I: Relations to the U.S. Government

Article I of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Relations to the U.S. Government" and consists of four sections.

Article II: The State

Article II of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "The State" and consists of eight sections.

Article III: Bill of Rights

Article III of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Bill of Rights" and consists of 22 sections.

Article IV: Election & Officers

Article IV of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Election & Officers" and consists of twelve sections.

Article V: Division of Powers

Article V of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Division of Powers" and consists of one section.

Article VI: The Legislature

Article VI of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "The Legislature" and consists of 57 sections.

Article VII: Executive Department

Article VII of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Executive Department" and consists of 19 sections.

Article VIII: Judicial Power

Article VIII of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Judicial Power" and consists of 16 sections.

Article IX: County Organization

Article IX of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "County Organization" and consists of 13 sections.

Article X: Taxation & Finance

Article X of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Taxation & Finance" and consists of 14 sections.

Article XI: Corporations

Article XI of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of 12 sections.

Article XII: Education

Article XII of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of 12 sections.

Article XIII: Land Titles

Article XIII of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Land Titles" and consists of six sections, four of which have been repealed.

Article XIV: Amendments

Article XIV of the West Virginia Constitution is entitled "Amendments" and consists of two sections.

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions

West Virginians can modify the West Virginia Constitution through two different paths, a constitutional convention and legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Section 1 of Article XIV of the West Virginia Constitution addresses how constitutional conventions can be called:

  • A majority vote of both chambers of the West Virginia State Legislature is required to put a question before the voters on a statewide ballot as to whether they wish a convention to be held.
  • If the voters agree to a convention by a simple majority vote, it is to be called.
  • Any proposed amendments that come out of a convention must go on a statewide ballot for possible ratification by the state's voters.

Section 2 of Article XIV of the West Virginia Constitution lays out how legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are to be implemented.[2]

  • Amendments can be proposed in either house of the state legislature.
  • The membership of both houses must support a proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote.
  • A vote on the proposed amendment may take place at a general or a special election. West Virginia has a unique requirement with regard to voting on amendments at special elections: "Whenever one or more amendments are submitted at a special election, no other question, issue or matter shall be voted upon at such special election."
  • A simple majority vote is required for ratification.
  • Proposed amendments must be placed on the ballot in such a way that they can be voted on separately.
  • "An amendment may relate to a single subject or to related subject matters and may amend or modify as many articles and as many sections of the constitution as may be necessary and appropriate in order to accomplish the objectives of the amendment."

History

West Virginia has had two constitutions, one ratified in 1863 and a second in 1872. It also has not undergone a holistic revision since it was first adopted.

The writing of a constitution was an essential step toward the creation of the new state. Voters in Western Virginia had authorized the convention and elected the delegates following Virginia’s decision to secede from the United States. The delegates relied heavily on the Virginia Constitution of 1851 but made several significant reforms to address inequities that had long provoked Western Virginians.[3] On November 26, 1861, delegates met in Wheeling, West Virginia to create a constitution for the new state. Some of the issues they addressed include the name of the new state, boundaries and slavery.

The new constitution was approved in a unanimous vote by the delegates on February 18, 1862. It was then submitted to the voters of West Virginia, who, on April 3, overwhelming approved the constitution, 18,862 to 514.[4]

See also

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External links

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