|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," 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.
- See also: Preambles to state constitutions
The preamble to the Connecticut Constitution states:
Article I contains the state's Declaration of Rights.
Article II establishes three branches of government in the state: legislative, executive, and judicial.
Article III establishes two distinct houses for the legislative branch, the sessions of the legislature and the number of members allowed for each house.
Article V establishes the supreme, superior and lesser courts as well as the process of selecting judges.
Article VI lists voter requirements.
Article VII establishes the right to practice religion freely.
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.
Article IX sets up the process of impeachment and the rules for trials of treason.
Article XI addresses the oath of office and restrictions on salary raises.
Article XII sets up how to amend the state constitution.
Article XIV established that the constitution would become 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 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.
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 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.
- 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 Constitutional History 1776-1988 by Wesley W. Horton," accessed May 21, 2014
- Connecticut State Library, "Connecticut Constitution", accessed March 26, 2014
- Horton, W. (1993). The Connecticut State Constitution: A Reference Guide. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
- Netstate.com, "The state of Connecticut", accessed March 26, 2014