Montana Constitution

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Montana Constitution
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The Montana Constitution is a state constitution and the primary legal document providing for the self-governance of Montana. It establishes and defines the powers of the three branches of the government of Montana, and the rights of its citizens. Its provisions are sovereign within the state, subject only to the limits imposed by federal laws and the constitution of the United States. The current Montana Constitution was adopted in 1972 and is the second enacted in the state's history.


The Montana Territory was organized by the United States Congress on May 26, 1864. The first constitution intended for Montana's statehood was written in 1866, but was lost on the way to the printer and so was never subject to a vote. A second constitution was written and ratified in 1884, but due to political reasons, Congress failed to take any action to approve Montana's admission to the Union. That document consequently never attained legal force.

In 1889, Congress passed an enabling act that finally permitted the people of Montana to be admitted to the Union after adopting and ratifying a constitution, and the third constitution for the incipient state was written and ratified later that year. It entered into force on November 8, 1889, when Montana became the 41st state admitted to the Union by the Presidential Proclamation of Benjamin Harrison.

The 1889 Constitution remained in force until 1972, when a new constitutional convention was held. The 1972 Constitution was adopted by the 100 delegates to the Constitutional Convention on March 22, 1972, and was ratified by the citizens of Montana on June 6, 1972, through Referendum No. 68.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble of the Montana Constitution is:

We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.


The Montana Constitution consists of a preamble followed by 15 sections.

  1. Compact with the United States
  2. Declaration of Rights
  3. General Government
  4. Suffrage and Elections
  5. The Legislature
  6. The Executive
  7. The Judiciary
  8. Revenue and Finance
  9. Environment and Natural Resources
  10. Education and Public Lands
  11. Local Government
  12. Departments and Institutions
  13. General Provisions
  14. Constitutional Revision
  15. Transition Schedule

Amending the constitution

See also: Article XIV, Montana Constitution, Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

The Montana Constitution can be amended through initiated constitutional amendments, legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and constitutional conventions.

Montana offers three different paths to having a constitutional convention. They are:

  • Section 1, Article XIV says that the Montana State Legislature, "by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members ... may at any time submit to the qualified electors the question of whether there shall be an unlimited convention to revise, alter, or amend" the constitution.
  • Section 2, Article XIV says that the state's electors can put a question about whether to hold a convention on a statewide ballot if a petition is signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state, including at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths of the legislative districts.
  • Section 3, Article XIV says that a question about whether to hold a convention shall automatically go on the ballot every twenty years if it has not otherwise appeared on the ballot.

The Montana State Legislature can put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot, according to Section 8 of Article XIV. Any member of the legislature can propose an amendment. The amendment must then be adopted by an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all members of the legislature.

The electors of the state can qualify an initiated constitutional amendment, according to Section 9 of Article XIV. Proposed initiated amendments go on the ballot if petitions are signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state, including at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of at least one-half of the counties.

External links

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