Connecticut Constitution

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Connecticut Constitution
Seal of Connecticut.png
The Connecticut Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Connecticut. The state's first constitution was adopted after a constitutional convention in 1818. Its second and current constitution was adopted in 1965. Most of this constitution reaffirmed the 1818 edition.[1]


Connecticut established the first constitution in the American colonies. Named the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," and established in 1638-1639, it was the first document written in the colonies by a representative body to set up a framework of government. However, after the colonies declared independence, Connecticut did not write a new constitution as other colonies did. Instead, the Connecticut General Assembly deleted references to the monarchy and then left the Fundamental Orders as they were. It was not until the 1818 constitutional convention that the state adopted its first constitution as a member of the United States.[1]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Connecticut Constitution states:

"The People of Connecticut acknowledging with gratitude, the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government; do, in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors; hereby, after a careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following constitution and form of civil government."[2]

Article I: Declaration of Rights

Article I contains the state's Declaration of Rights.[2]

Article II: Of the Distribution of Powers

Article II establishes three branches of government in the state: legislative, executive, and judicial.[2]

Article III: Of the Legislative Department

Article III establishes two distinct houses for the legislative branch, the sessions of the legislature and the number of members allowed for each house.[2]

Article IV: Of the Executive Department

Article IV sets the terms, requirements and powers of the executive branch, such as the governor, lieutenant governor and Secretary of State.[2]

Article V: Of the Judicial Department

Article V establishes the supreme, superior and lesser courts as well as the process of selecting judges.[2]

Article VI: Of the Qualifications of Electors

Article VI lists voter requirements.[2]

Article VII: Of Religion

Article VII establishes the right to practice religion freely.[2]

Article VIII: Of Education

Article VIII establishes a free elementary and secondary school system in the state, sets up the University of Connecticut and confirms the charter of Yale College.[2]

Article IX: Of Impeachments

Article IX sets up the process of impeachment and the rules for trials of treason.[2]

Article X: Of Home Rule

Article X allows the Connecticut General Assembly to delegate authority to cities, towns and boroughs.[2]

Article XI: General Provisions

Article XI addresses the oath of office and restrictions on salary raises.[2]

Article XII: Of Amendments to the Constitution

Article XII sets up how to amend the state constitution.[2]

Article XIII: Of Constitutional Conventions

Article XIII sets up the method of calling a constitutional convention.[2]

Article XIV: Of the Effective Date of This Constitution

Article XIV established that the constitution would become effective after approval by a popular vote and proclamation by the governor.[2]

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 percent) 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 percent 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, instead it recognized 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.[3]

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.[3]

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.[4]

On October 1, 1901, Connecticut residents voted nearly two-to-one 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 two-to-one.[3]

See also

StateConstitutions Ballotpedia.jpg

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading