Mississippi Constitution

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Mississippi Constitution
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The Mississippi Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Mississippi. It describes the structure and function of the state's government. The constitution was adopted November 1, 1890.


The Mississippi Constitution includes a Preamble and 15 articles, each of which is divided into sections. Unlike most other state constitutions, the numbering of the sections does not begin again at "1" with each article. Instead, the Mississippi Constitution ends at Section 285.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Mississippi Constitution states:

We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking his blessing on our work, do ordain and establish this Constitution.[1]

Article 1

Article 1, labeled "Distribution of Powers," has two sections. Theses two sections state that the Mississippi government shall have three distinct divisions, the executive, legislative and judiciary, and that the powers cannot encroach on each other. In addition, the anti-encroachment section specifically states that an official cannot hold an office in more than one branch simultaneously.[1]

Article 2

Article 2, labeled "Boundaries of the State," had two sections, but now has only one after the state's voters repealed its first section in 1990. The remaining section of Article 2 states that the Mississippi State Legislature has the power to acquire additional territory and settle territorial disputes with other states.[1]

Article 3

Article III, Section 18 of the Mississippi Constitution discusses "Freedom of Religion." It contains a unique clause which states that this right shall not be construed as to exclude the use of the Bible from any public school.[1]

Furthermore, Article 3 originally banned dueling, under Section 19:

Human life shall not be imperiled by the practice of dueling; and any citizen of this state who shall hereafter fight a duel, or assist in the same as second, or send, accept, or knowingly carry a challenge therefore, whether such an act be done in the state, or out of it, or who shall go out of the state to fight a duel, or to assist in the same as second, or to send, accept, or carry a challenge, shall be disqualified from holding any office under this Constitution, and shall be disenfranchised.[1]

Section 19 was repealed by voters on November 7, 1978. The Secretary of State then deleted the section from the constitution on December 22, 1978.

Article 4

Article 4 is the lengthiest article of the Mississippi Constitution, with 83 sections. It is labeled "Legislative Department" and defines in detail the rights, privileges, responsibilities and rules governing the Mississippi State Legislature.[1]

Article 5

Article 5 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Executive" and consists of 28 sections.[1]

Article 6

Article 6 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Judiciary."[1]

Article 7

Article 7 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of 24 sections.[1]

Article 8

Article 8 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of 16 sections.[1]

Article 9

Article 9 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Militia" and consists of nine sections.[1]

Article 10

Article 10 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "The Penitentiary and Prisons." It has four sections, one of which has been repealed.[1]

Article 11

Article 11 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Levees" and consists of 13 sections.[1]

Article 12

Article 12 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Franchise." It has 16 sections, three of which have been repealed.[1]

Article 13

Article 13 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "Apportionment." It has three sections, two of which have been repealed.[1]

Article 14

Article 14 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled "General Provisions" and consists of 17 sections.[1]

Amending the constitution

See also: Article XV, Mississippi Constitution, Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi and Amending state constitutions

The Mississippi Constitution can be amended via two different paths:

Through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment as established in Section 273, Article XV.

  • For a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to go on the ballot, two-thirds (2/3) of each house of the Mississippi State Legislature must vote to put it there. The absolute number of those voting in favor must be equal to at least a majority of the members elected to each house.
  • More than one amendment can be submitted for an election, and voters must be able to vote on them separately.
  • The legislature can call a special election for the purposes of voting on one of its proposed amendments.
  • Proposed amendments that are approved by a simple majority become part of the constitution.

Through an initiated constitutional amendment. Mississippi is one of 18 states were the people are allowed to initiate constitutional amendments, but its requirements are so burdensome that it is virtually impossible to qualify an initiated constitutional amendment. Some of the requirements are:

  • Signatures equalling 12 percent of the vote for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election must be collected in a period not to exceed a year.
  • A tough distribution requirement such that signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth (1/5) the total number of signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot.
  • Initiated constitutional amendments cannot be about altering in any way the Bill of Rights of the Mississippi Constitution.
  • They also can't be about the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System.
  • They can't be about amending or repealing the constitutional guarantee that the right of any person to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or organization.
  • They can't modify the initiative process for proposing amendments to the Constitution (for example, to make it easier).
  • The state legislature can place a competing measure on the ballot.
  • To pass, an initiative must receive a majority of the votes thereon and not less than forty percent (40%) of the total votes cast at the election at which the measure was submitted to be approved.
  • No more than five initiatives can appear on any one ballot.
  • If an initiative is rejected, it (or a similar measure) can't go on the ballot again for at least two years.

Note: Mississippi has no provision for a constitutional convention.


The state has had four separate constitutions: the first Constitution of 1817, the Constitution of 1832, the Constitution of 1868 and the current Constitution of 1890.

The Constitution of 1817, the state's first constitution, was drafted when Mississippi became a state. In 1832, however, a new constitution was written to replace the original. At the conclusion of the Civil War, a third constitution was drafted and adopted, the Constitution of 1868. This constitution made significant changes to the state's government. Slavery was renounced, and the former slaves received basic civil rights. Mississippi’s present constitution was adopted in 1890.[2]

See also

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External links

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