|I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XI • Schedule 1 • Schedule 2|
- 1 Features
- 2 Preamble
- 3 Article I: Declaration of Rights
- 4 Article II: The Legislature
- 5 Article III: Legislation
- 6 Article IV: The Executive
- 7 Article V: The Judiciary
- 8 Article VI: Public Officers
- 9 Article VII: Elections
- 10 Article VIII: Taxation and Finance
- 11 Article IX: Local Government
- 12 Article X: Private Corporations
- 13 Article XI: Amendments
- 14 Amending the constitution
- 15 History
- 16 See also
- 17 External links
- 18 Additional reading
- 19 References
The Pennsylvania Constitution consists of a preamble followed by 11 articles and two schedules.
- See also: Preambles to state constitutions
The preamble to the Pennsylvania Constitution states:
Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Declaration of Rights" and consists of 28 sections and a preamble.
Article II of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "The Legislature" and consists of 17 sections.
Article III of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Legislation" and consists of 32 sections.
Article IV of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "The Executive" and consists of 19 sections.
Article V of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "The Judiciary."
Article VI of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Public Officers" and consists of seven sections.
Article VII of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Elections" and consists of 14 sections.
Article VIII of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Taxation and Finance" and consists of 17 sections.
Article IX of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Local Government" and consists of 14 sections.
Article X of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled "Private Corporations" and consists of four sections.
Article XI of the Pennsylvania Constitution is entitled Amendments and consists of a single section.
Amending the constitution
The Pennsylvania Constitution is only explicit about one way to change it; namely, the process of a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The constitution does not lay out the rules for how a constitutional convention can be called but, nevertheless, the state has held five such conventions, mostly recently in 1968 when the current constitution was adopted.
- Either chamber of the Pennsylvania General Assembly can propose amendments.
- If a simple majority of both chambers approves of a proposed amendment, that amendment must be "published three months before the next general election, in at least two newspapers in every county in which such newspapers shall be published."
- In the next session of the legislature, the amendment must be considered again. If it is approved a second time by a simple majority of both houses, the amendment goes on a statewide ballot. This can be at any election date as determined by the state legislature.
- ."..no amendment or amendments shall be submitted oftener than once in five years."
- Separate amendments must be voted on separately.
Pennsylvania also has a unique requirement for those times when the state legislature believes that a "major emergency threatens or is about to threaten the Commonwealth." If this happens, the proposed emergency amendment can be approved to go on a statewide ballot by 2/3rds of the members of each legislature. Election officials must promptly publish a notice of an election on the amendment "in at least two newspapers in every county" and the election can occur quickly but "at least one month after being agreed to by both Houses."
Also, ."..when two or more emergency amendments are submitted they shall be voted on separately."
Regarding constitutional conventions, the state legislature appears to take as a matter of tradition, rather than explicit constitutional direction, that it can vote to put a constitutional convention question on the ballot. For example, Ann Livak writes in "Pennsylvania's Constitutions and the Amendment Process - Where it Began, Where it is Now" that ."..in 1961, the Committee for State Constitutional Revision led by Milton J. Shapp got underway and in 1963 forced the legislature to call for a referendum on a constitutional convention....The 1967 legislature gave priority to constitutional revision and passed a convention enabling bill as well as the amendments awaiting second passage." (This suggests that the legislature voted only once to put the convention question on the ballot.)
Pennsylvania has had five constitutions during its statehood: 1776, 1790, 1838, 1874, and 1968. Prior to that, the province of Pennsylvania was governed for a century by a Frame of Government, of which there were four versions: 1682, 1683, 1696, and 1701.
Although the 1968 Constitution is the most recent version and considered a new document, it is heavily based on the previous Constitution of 1874 and is often considered a revision of the earlier version.
- State constitution
- Constitutional article
- Constitutional amendment
- Constitutional revision
- Constitutional convention
- PA.go, "Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"
- Jenkins Law.org, "Pennsylvania Historical Constitutions and the Amendment Process"
- [http://explorepahistory.com/story.php?storyId=1-9-16&chapter=1 Explore PA History.com, "Pennsylvania and the New Nation"
- History.com, " Dec 12, 1787: Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution"
- Franklin, Benjamin, and Richard Jackson. (1759). An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, London, England: Paternofter-Row