Arizona Constitution

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Arizona Constitution
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The Arizona Constitution is the governing document and framework for the State of Arizona. The current constitution is the first and only adopted by the state of Arizona.


The Arizona Territory was authorized to hold a constitutional convention in 1910 to at which the constitution was drafted and submitted to Congress. The original constitution was approved by Congress, however subsequently vetoed by President William H. Taft on his objections concerning the recalling of judges. The constitution was amended by the constitutional convention removing the provision about judicial recall and resubmitted upon which President Taft approved Arizona's statehood as the 48th U.S. state on February 14, 1912.[1]

Fairly quickly after becoming a state, the state legislature approved a constitutional amendment which restored the ability to recall judges, which was approved in the 1912 general election.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Arizona Constitution says:

We the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution.


The Arizona Constitution is divided into 28 articles, numbered 1-6, 6.1, 7-22, and 25-29, with articles 23 and 24 having been repealed.

  • Article 1 declares the boundaries of the state in great detail.
  • Article 2 is titled the Declaration of Rights and is the state's equivalent of the Bill of Rights.
  • Article 3 declares the state government shall be divided into three distinct divisions, the legislative, executive and judicial.
  • Article 4 establishes the legislature and the people through initiative as legislative authority for the state and outlines the qualifications for state House of Representatives and Senate and the division of districts (30 districts to elect 1 senator and 2 representatives).
  • Article 5 outlines the qualifications for Governor and other Executive branch officials and to their duties.
  • Article 6 frames the court system including the Supreme Court and superior court and qualifications for judges.
  • Article 6.1 creates a Commission on Judicial Conduct to oversee the judicial system.
  • Article 7 deals with suffrage and elections.
  • Article 8 provides the method of removal from office for all elected officials including judges, legislators and executive officials either through impeachment or recall.
  • Article 9 provides taxation powers to the legislature and limits the amount of debt for the state's political divisions.
  • Article 10 concerns the usage of state and school lands.
  • Article 11 concerns education in the state and that all public schools be free. Establishes Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Article 12 deals with the counties of the state.
  • Article 13 deals with cities, towns and other municipal corporations.
  • Article 14 deals with general corporations.
  • Article 15 establishes the Corporation Commission to regulate corporations as well as the rates of public utilities.
  • Article 16 concerns the militia and national guard.
  • Article 17 declares the common law riparian system of water rights void and reconfirms preexisting appropriated water rights.
  • Article 18, as well as Article 25, concerns labor, regulating child labor, defining a work day to be 8 hours and declaring Arizona a right to work state.
  • Article 19 creates the office of State Mine inspector and the inspection of mines operating in the state.
  • Article 20 concern specific topics that while normally outside of Congress' subject jurisdiction, are controlled by Congress. This includes the right to religious freedom, banning of polygamy, public and Indian lands, banning importation of intoxicating liquors onto Indian reserves until 1957, state officials required to speak, read and write English, among other things. These sections can only be repealed with the approval of Congress.
  • Article 21 outlines the mode of amending the Constitution.
  • Article 22 deals with scheduling and miscellaneous topics.
  • Article 23 and 24 both concerned prohibition and were repealed in 1932.
  • Article 26, 27, and 29 are short articles dealing with real estate agents, the regulation of ambulances, and public retirement systems.
  • Article 28 concerns English as the official language.
  • Article 29 addresses the public retirement systems.
  • Article 30 defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.


Two sections in the Constitution are duplicated, having resulted from three constitutional amendments being approved in 1992 (Propositions 100, 101 and 107 all amending term limits with Proposition 107 creating a second version in both sections).

  • Article 5, Section 1: [1] and [2]
  • Article 19, Section 1: [3] and [4]

Article 28 has been declared unconstitutional by the Arizona Supreme Court. But the declaration of its inapplicability doesn't remove it from the Constitution.

Amending the Constitution

Main article: Amending state constitutions

Article 21 of the Arizona Constitution allows three methods of amending the Arizona Constitution:

  • Initiated constitutional amendments. These go on the Arizona ballot if an initiative petition is signed by qualified electors equalling 15% of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election.
  • Legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Either chamber of the Arizona State Legislature is allowed to propose an amendment. A majority of members of both chambers must approve it; if they do, the proposed amendment goes on a statewide ballot for a popular vote of the people where if a simple majority approves it, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • The Arizona Secretary of State is required to publish a copy of the proposed amendment in a newspaper in each of Arizona's 15 counties for a period of at least ninety days before the election.
  • Proposed amendments must be voted on separately.
  • The state legislature is allowed to call a special election for the purposes of voting on proposed amendments. If no special election is called, amendments are voted on in the next statewide general election.
  • A constitutional convention may be called by a statewide vote of the people. In the absence of such a vote, the state legislature is not allowed to call a convention. Any proposed changes to the constitution that are reported out of a constitutional convention must be submitted to a statewide popular vote where, if approved by a majority of those voting, become part of the constitution.

External links

Further reading

McClory, T. Understanding the Arizona Constitution, The University of Arizona Press, 2001 ISBN 978-0-8165-2096-1