New York Constitution

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New York Constitution
Seal of New York.png
The New York State Constitution is a state constitution and the fundamental governing document of the state of New York. It establishes the structure of the government of the state of New York, and enumerates the basic rights of the citizens of New York. Like most state constitutions in the United States, New York's constitution's provisions tend to be more detailed, and amended more often than its federal counterpart. Because the history of the state constitution differs from the federal constitution, the New York Court of Appeals has seen fit to interpret analogous provisions differently from United States Supreme Court's interpretation of federal provisions.

New York State has had five constitutions, adopted in 1777, 1821, 1846, 1894, and 1938. In the 20th century alone it held three constitutional conventions, the efforts of two of which (1915 and 1967) were rejected by the electorate. The constitution produced by the 1938 convention (itself substantially a modification of the 1894 constitution), as modified by subsequent amendments, the latest of 2002, now forms the fundamental law of the State.

Currently, the New York State Constitution has 55,326 words, omitting the title.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble of the New York Constitution is:

We The People of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our Freedom, in order to secure its blessings, DO ESTABLISH THIS CONSTITUTION.


The New York Constitution consists of a preamble followed by 20 articles:

  1. Bill of Rights
  2. Suffrage
  3. Legislature
  4. Executive
  5. Officers and Civil Departments
  6. Judiciary
  7. State Finances
  8. Local Finances
  9. Local Governments
  10. Corporations
  11. Education
  12. Defense
  13. Public Officers
  14. Conservation
  15. Canals
  16. Taxation
  17. Social Welfare
  18. Housing
  19. Amendments to Constitution
  20. When to Take Effect

Constitutional amendments

See also: Amending state constitutions

According to Article XIX, the New York State Legislature has the power to propose amendments to the constitution as follows:

  • Any proposed amendments must be referred to the New York Attorney General, who is required to provide a written opinion as to how the proposed amendment fits in with other provisions of the constitution.
  • If both chambers of the legislature (the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly) agree with the proposed amendment by a simple majority vote, the proposed amendment is then referred to "the next regular legislative session convening after the succeeding general election of members of the assembly."
  • If that next session of the legislature agrees with the amendment by a simple majority vote of both chambers, "it shall be the duty of the legislature to submit each proposed amendment or amendments to the people for approval in such manner and at such times as the legislature shall prescribe".
  • If a general statewide vote approves the amendment by a simple majority vote, it becomes a part of the constitution on the "day of January next after such approval."[1]

The New York Constitution can also be amended through the constitutional convention process:

  • According to Section 2 of Article XIX, a question as to whether there shall be a convention is to appear on the statewide ballot every 20 years beginning in 1957.
  • The New York State Legislature can also refer a question to the ballot about whether to hold a convention.
  • The New York Constitution is the only state constitution that describes the constitutional convention process that specifically says what to do should a delegate to the convention die while the convention is still ongoing.

External links


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