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There have been several versions of the Constitution of Indiana. The first was created in when the Territory of Indiana sent forty-three delegates to a constitutional convention on June 10, 1816 to establish a constitution for the proposed State of Indiana after the United States Congress had agreed to grant statehood, and the constitution was approved 33-8. In preparing Indiana's fundamental law they borrowed heavily from existing state constitutions, especially those of Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. The original constitution was adopted without being submitted to the people. The current constitution is the Constitution of 1851, with numerous amendments.
- Main article: Preambles to state constitutions
The changes in society and the concerns can be noted by the comparison of the preambles of the original 1816 constitution and the current constitution.
The preamble to the original 1816 constitution was:
- We the Representatives of the people of the Territory of Indiana, in Convention met, at Corydon, on Monday the tenth day of June in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States, the fortieth, having the right of admission into the General Government, as a member of the union, consistent with the constitution of the United States, the ordinance of Congress of one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven, and the law of Congress, entitle "An act to enable the people of the Indiana Territory to form a Constitution and State Government, and for the admission of such state into the union, on an equal footing with the original States" in order to establish Justice, promote the welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; do ordain and establish the following constitution or form of Government, and do mutually agree with each other to form ourselves into a free and Independent state, by the name of the State of Indiana.
The preamble to the current constitution is:
- TO THE END, that justice be established, public order maintained, and liberty perpetuated; WE, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to ALMIGHTY GOD for the free exercise of the right to choose our own form of government, do ordain this Constitution.
The Constitution consists of a preamble and 16 articles. They are as follows:
- Bill of Rights
- Suffrage and Election
- Distribution of Powers
- State Institutions
- The entire article 3 is the shortest provision of the entire constitution, having one section consisting of one sentence: Section 1. The powers of the Government are divided into three separate departments; the Legislative, the Executive including the Administrative, and the Judicial: and no person, charged with official duties under one of these departments, shall exercise any of the functions of another, except as in this Constitution expressly provided.
- Article 5, Section 1, provides that the governor may not serve more than 8 years in any twelve-year period.
- Article 5, Section 8, prohibits anyone holding federal office from being governor.
- Article 7, Section 2, declares the state Supreme Court to have one Chief Justice and not less than four nor more than eight associate justices.
- Article 7, Section 15, provides that the four-year term limit for elective office set forth in article 15, section 2 does not apply to judges and justices.
- Article 9 provides for the state to create and fund "education of the deaf, the mute, and the blind; and for the treatment of the insane" and "institutions for the correction and reformation of juvenile offenders" but provides that counties may "provide farms, as an asylum for those persons who, by reason of age, infirmity, or other misfortune, have claims upon the sympathies and aid of society."
- Article 12, Section 1, declares the militia to be "all persons over the age of seventeen (17) years, except those persons who may be exempted by the laws of the United States or of this state".
- Article 13 currently only has one section, (sections 2 through 4 having been repealed) limiting indebtedness of municipal corporations to two percent of the property tax base except in the event of a war or certain other defined emergencies, if requested by petition of certain property owners in the area.
- Article 15, Section 2, provides for creation by law of offices not defined by the constitution, and where someone is appointed, may be for a term "at the pleasure of the appointing authority" but elected offices may not have a term longer than four years.
- Article 15, Section 7, prohibits making any county less than 400 square miles or reducing the size of any existing county which is smaller than this.
Amending the constitution
- Main article: Amending state constitutions
The amendment procedures available under the Indiana Constitution are more restrictive than in those of nearly any other state. Only one system is allowed (the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment), and this procedure in Indiana is itself more restrictive than in most states, since any proposed amendment must be approved by two successive sessions of the Indiana General Assembly before it can go to a vote of the people. Article 16 also does not say anything about how a constitutional convention could be held or called; whereas, the constitutions of more than 40 other states do lay out in their constitutions how that process would work in their state.
- An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the Indiana General Assembly.
- An amendment must be agreed to by a simple majority of the members elected to each of the two chambers.
- If that happens, the same amendment can be proposed in the next session of the legislature that convenes after a general election has taken place.
- If the amendment is approved by a simple majority vote of both chambers of the general assembly in that second legislative session, the amendment is then to be submitted to a statewide vote of the people at a general election.
- If a majority of those voting on the question approve it, the proposed amendment then becomes part of the Indiana Constitution.
- Original Constitution of 1816
- The original Constitution of 1851
- Text of the present Constitution of Indiana from the Indiana General Assembly
- The Constitutional History of Indiana
- Manuscript Constitution, Indiana State Library; Kettleborough (ed.), Constitution Making in Indiana, I, 83-125; Barnhart and Carmony, Indiana, I, 151-160; Dunn, Indiana, I, 295-313.