Difference between revisions of "California Constitution"

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Text replace - "==Further reading==" to "==Additional reading==")
Line 149: Line 149:
* [http://californiaconstitution.wikispot.org/ The California Constitution Wiki], a wiki project to re-design the state's constitution
* [http://californiaconstitution.wikispot.org/ The California Constitution Wiki], a wiki project to re-design the state's constitution
==Further reading==
==Additional reading==
* [http://www.amazon.com/The-California-State-Constitution-Constitutions/dp/031327228X Joseph R. Grodin, Calvin R. Massey, and Richard B. Cunningham (1993), ''The California State Constitution: A Reference Guide'', Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.]
* [http://www.amazon.com/The-California-State-Constitution-Constitutions/dp/031327228X Joseph R. Grodin, Calvin R. Massey, and Richard B. Cunningham (1993), ''The California State Constitution: A Reference Guide'', Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=jwc4AAAAIAAJ&dq=california+state+constitution&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=t3_y82g-Uv&sig=xrsQmtAj7j5iWeaK0MXs4gLzpvU&hl=en&ei=klARSoelAY-OMufPnKMG&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3 Treadwell, Edward (1902). ''The Constitution of the State of California'', San Francisco, California: Bancroft-Whitney.]  
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=jwc4AAAAIAAJ&dq=california+state+constitution&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=t3_y82g-Uv&sig=xrsQmtAj7j5iWeaK0MXs4gLzpvU&hl=en&ei=klARSoelAY-OMufPnKMG&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3 Treadwell, Edward (1902). ''The Constitution of the State of California'', San Francisco, California: Bancroft-Whitney.]  

Revision as of 13:02, 1 April 2014

California Constitution
Flag of California.png
The California Constitution is the basic governing document of California. The state's first constitution was adopted in November 1849 in advance of California attaining U.S. statehood in 1850. That constitution was superseded by the current constitution, which was ratified on May 7, 1879.[1][2]

Notable features

The California Constitution is one of the longest of the state constitutions.

Unlike other state constitutions, the California Constitution strongly protects the corporate existence of cities and counties and grants them broad plenary home rule powers.[3] By specifically enabling cities to pay counties to perform governmental functions for them, Section 8 of Article XI resulted in the rise of the contract city.[4]

Several of the individual rights clauses in the state constitution have been interpreted as providing rights broader than the Bill of Rights in the federal constitution.[5] Two examples are Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center and the 1972 case California v. Anderson, the first decision in America to find the death penalty unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibits punishments which are cruel and unusual, while the state constitution prohibits punishments which are cruel or unusual.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions
"We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution."[1]

Article I

Article I is labeled as the "Declaration of Rights." It contains 32 sections, numbered Sections 1-31 with an additional Section 14.1. The first section declares "All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy."[1]

Article II

Article II is labeled, "Voting, Initiative and Referendum, and Recall." It has twenty sections, many of which are short and even one-sentence declarations such as Section 7 which says "Voting shall be secret."

Sections 8, Section 10, Section 11 and Section 12 govern ballot initiatives, including defining the signature requirements for initiatives, the single-subject rule, a provision that says that initiatives must apply equally to all subdivisions (added in 1998), when initiatives that have been approved take effect, what to do in the case of conflicting initiatives and the California Attorney General's ballot title authorities.

Article III

Cartoon depicting concern over the 1879 constitution.

Article III is labeled, "State of California." It has nine sections that lay out some basic, definitional characteristics of how the government of California is organized. It includes provisions on how to sue the state of California. It has been amended over the years to include some very specific provisions such as Section 6, which defines English as the official language of California, and Section 8, which establishes a compensation commission.

Article IV

Article IV is labeled "Legislative." It has 23 sections. There are no sections between Section 22 and Section 28; that is, there are no Sections 23, 24, 25 or 27.

Article IV lays out the powers, privileges and responsibilities of the California State Legislature, the California State Assembly and the California State Senate.

Section 1.5 makes a strong statement in favor of term limits, saying, "The ability of legislators to serve unlimited number of terms, to establish their own retirement system, and to pay for staff and support services at state expense contribute heavily to the extremely high number of incumbents who are re-elected. These unfair incumbent advantages discourage qualified candidates from seeking public office and create a class of career politicians, instead of the citizen representatives envisioned by the Founding Fathers. These career politicians become representatives of the bureaucracy, rather than of the people whom they are elected to represent."[1]

Section 2 defines the exact nature of those term limits.

Section 9 says that statutes passed by the legislature can concern themselves with only one subject.

Article V

Article V is labeled "Executive." It has 13 sections, which go from Section 1-Section 14, with no section 12.

Article V lays out the duties and authorities of the executive branch of California government, including those of the governor.

Article VI

Article VI is the article of the constitution that lays out the scope, responsibilities, powers and authorities of the judicial branch of California government. It has 22 sections.

Article VII

Article VII is labeled "Public Officers and Employees." It has eleven sections.

Article VIII

There is no Article VIII.

Article IX

Article IX is labeled "Education." It is numbered in Sections 1 through Sections 16. Over the years, six sections have been interpolated in the article (2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 6.5 and 7.5), while Sections 4, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 have been deleted.

Article X

Article X is labeled "Water." It has seven sections.

  • Section 1 asserts that the right of eminent domain exists with respect to all frontages on navigable waters in California.
  • Section 2 says that the right of access to water in the state is limited to "such water as shall be reasonably required for the beneficial use to be served."[1]

Article XA

Article XA is labeled "Water Resources Development." It includes eight sections.

Article XB

Article XB is labeled "Marine Resources Protection Act of 1990." It became part of the state's constitution as the result of California Proposition 132 (1990).

Article XI

Article XI is labeled "Local Government." It has 15 sections, which define the powers and constraints of local governments.

Article XII

Article XII is labeled "Public Utilities." It has nine sections. These sections define the scope of the state's Public Utilities Commission.

One section (Section 7) notes that transportation companies are not allowed to "grant free passes or discounts" to any public officeholders in the state, other than the members of the Public Utilities Commission.[1]


Article XIII is labeled "Taxation." It is numbered in Sections 1-35, but it consists of 38 sections since three half-sections (3.5, 8.5 and 25.5) have been added over time. Taken together, the 38 sections of Article XIII lay out a number of detailed provisions about what kind of property in California is taxable, along with some property that the Article holds to be exempt from taxation.

As an example of the level of detail that can be found throughout Article XIII, consider Section 10, which says, "Real property in a parcel of 10 or more acres which, on the lien date and for 2 or more years immediately preceding, has been used exclusively for nonprofit golf course purposes shall be assessed for taxation on the basis of such use, plus any value attributable to mines, quarries, hydrocarbon substances, or other minerals in the property or the right to extract hydrocarbons or other minerals from the property."[1]

Process of amendment

Main article: Amending state constitutions

The California Constitution can be amended in these ways:

  • Two-thirds of the membership of each chamber of the California State Legislature must propose an amendment, which then goes on a statewide ballot to be ratified or rejected by the state's voters.
  • The state legislature is allowed to propose revisions (not just amendments) to the constitution.
  • If measures conflict, and they both get more than 50% of the vote, the one with the highest number of votes prevails.
  • Ratified amendments take effect the day after the election.

Constitutional convention advocated

Main article: California constitutional convention

A constitutional convention was under consideration in 2009-2010 by some California political organizations as a way to fix a system they believe is broken.[6][7]

The hope of those who supported a constitutional convention is that it would "take on the manifold structural problems in California's budget process at a single stroke."[8]

The Bay Area Council was a leading voice in favor of a constitutional convention. The group has sponsored several summits and meetings to develop support for a convention. Comments from the summits include "Drastic times call for drastic measures" and "We believe it is our duty to declare that our California government is not only broken, it has become destructive to our future."[9]

Letters requesting ballot titles for two potential 2010 ballot propositions were filed with the California Attorney General in June 2009. However, in February 2010, supporters announced that a lack of funds had led them to decide to abandon this effort.

See also

StateConstitutions Ballotpedia.jpg

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading