|I • II • III • IV-I • IV-II • IV-III • V-I • V-II • V-III • VI • VII • VIII-I • VIII-II • IX • X|
- 1 Features
- 2 Preamble
- 3 Article I: Declaration of Rights
- 4 Article II: Electors
- 5 Article III: Distribution of Powers
- 6 Article IV: State legislature
- 7 Article V: Executive Power
- 8 Article VI: Judicial Power
- 9 Article VII: Military
- 10 Article VIII: Education and Home Rule
- 11 Article X: Additional Provisions
- 12 Amendments to the Constitution
- 13 History
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
- 16 Additional reading
- 17 References
The Maine Constitution consists of a preamble and ten articles.
Maine's constitution was first adopted in 1820, making it the 23rd state in the Union. The constitution has been amended many times since 1820, and it has been re-codified every 10 years beginning in the late 19th century. By re-codifying it, the repealed portions have been deleted and the original structure has remained intact. This process has made it one of the shorter state constitutions.
- See also: Preambles to state constitutions
The text of the Preamble to the Maine Constitution states:
Article I contains 24 sections, the longest of which is on religious freedom. The first section states:
|“||All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights.||”|
Article II has five sections and describes who may vote for members of the state government.
Article III consists of two sections. It divides the state government into three distinct departments: the legislative, executive and judicial.
Article IV: State legislature
Article IV is written in three distinct parts:
- Article IV-I: Maine House of Representatives
- Article IV-II: Maine State Senate
- Article IV:-III: Legislative Power
Altogether, Article IV establishes the Maine State Legislature.
Article V: Executive Power
This article is written in three parts:
Altogether, Article V describes the powers, election and duties of the state executive offices.
Article VII is concerned with the military and describes the state militia, known as the Maine National Guard.
Article VIII: Education and Home Rule
Article VIII consists of two parts, each with two sections.
Article X has seven sections and describes how the constitution can be amended.
Amendments to the Constitution
The Maine Constitution may be amended in two ways:
- According to Section 15 of Part III of Article IV, the legislature can, by a two-thirds concurrent vote of both branches, call a constitutional convention.
- According to Section 4 of Article X, if the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine State Senate both vote by at least a two-thirds majority, a proposed amendment to the constitution can be placed on the statewide ballot on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November after the state legislature acts. Amendments proposed in this way become part of the constitution if they are approved by a simple majority vote of the state's electorate.
The Maine Constitution of 1819 was the first state constitution in the United States that only required one legislative proposal followed by a vote of the people in order to amend itself. All other state constitutions up to Maine's required two legislative actions.
In 1818, Connecticut was the first state to allow the people to weigh in on a new amendment via a statewide vote; however, to amend the Connecticut Constitution, two legislative actions were still required--as had been the case with all previous state constitutions--prior to the vote of the people. The reason for two legislative actions was to test popular sentiment with reference to a proposed amendment, but the need for doing this was reduced when the proposed constitutional amendment was submitted to a direct vote of the people.
Since 1818, most states adopting new constitutions have followed either the Connecticut or Maine plans by providing for the proposal of amendments either by two successive legislatures or simply by one legislature, with the amendment becoming effective upon the subsequent approval of the people.
In 1997 and 2000, the Maine State Legislature referred to the ballot, both times unsuccessfully, attempts to have a portion of the Constitution repealed that the legislature deemed to probably be unconstitutional:
- Maine Repeal Mental Illness Provision (1997)
- Maine Repeal of Mental Illness Voting Restrictions Amendment (2000)
After the voters chose not to vote to remove the controversial provision from the constitution, the Disability Rights Center of Maine filed a lawsuit in federal court in Maine on behalf of three individuals who were under guardianship because of mental illness challenging the constitutionality of the relevant part of the Maine Constitution. In federal court, the provision in the constitution was found to violate both the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court determined in August 2001 that the constitutional provision that forbade people who were mentally ill and under guardianship from voting unfairly (and unconstitutionally) targeted "a subset of mentally ill citizens based on a stereotype rather than any actual, relevant incapacity."
The Maine Constitution was approved by Congress on March 4, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, since the Maine Constitution did not recognize slavery. Maine was previously the District of Maine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Several referenda were held (1792, 1797, 1816, 1819) testing voter sentiment for separation from Massachusetts. The Maine Constitution was eventually written over a three-week period in 1819 by a convention of delegates during the statehood movement following the Revolutionary War and approved by voters the same year. The Maine Constitution was approved by all 210 delegates to the Maine constitutional convention, which was held during October 1819 in Portland, Maine. Maine was then accepted into the Union in 1820 as a the twenty-third state in the Union, with the 1819 constitution as its fundamental governing document.
The Maine Constitution is regarded by some scholars as the forerunner of a type of constitution subsequently adopted by other states. Specifically, Maine was the first state constitution that allowed itself to be subsequently amended by the state legislature voting to put a proposed amendment to a popular statewide vote, and other states saw this as an attractive attribute for a state constitution. Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer wrote in 1900 noting, "A two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature was required to pass the proposal but everything else was left to the people, a simple majority of the qualified voters who chose to express an opinion on the subject being competent to declare the popular will."
- List of amendments to the Maine Constitution
- State constitution
- Constitutional article
- Constitutional amendment
- Constitutional revision
- Constitutional convention
- Maine.gov, "Constitution of the State of Maine"
- Maine.gov, "Enacted Constitutional Amendments from 1911 - Present"
- Maine.gov, "Constitution of the State of Maine 1820"
- Maine: An Encyclopedia, "Constitution, Maine"
- Tinkle, Marshall J. (2013). The Maine State Constitution, New York, New York: Oxford University Press
- Palmer, Kenneth T. and Marcus LiBrizzi. (1989). "Development of the Maine Constitution: The Long Tradition, 1819-1988." Maine Historical Society Quarterly
- Hatch, Louis Clinton (1919). Maine: A History, New York, New York: The American Historical Society
- Maine.gov, "Constitution of the State of Maine," accessed March 28, 2014
- Maine: An Encyclopedia, "Constitution, Maine," accessed March 28, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Dodd, Walter Fairleigh (1910). The revision and amendment of state constitutions, Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins Press
- Palmer, Kenneth and Jonathan Thomas (2008). The Constitutionalism of the American States, St. Louis, Missouri: University of Missouri Press
- Leagle.com, "Doe v. Rowe", accessed March 28, 2014
- Oberholtzer, Ellis Paxson (1900). The Referendum in America, Charles Scribner & Sons