Difference between revisions of "Virginia Constitution"

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{{VAConstitution}}{{TOCnestright}}The '''Constitution of Virginia''' is the document that defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the Commonwealth of [[Virginia]].  Like all other [[State constitution|state constitutions]], it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government, though it may be superseded by the United States Constitution and U.S. federal law.
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{{VAConstitution}}{{TOCnestright}}The '''Constitution of Virginia''' is the basic governing document of the Commonwealth of [[Virginia]].  
  
Virginia enacted its first constitution in 1776, in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence by the original thirteen states of the United States of America. In addition to frequent amendments, there have been six major subsequent revisions of the constitution (in 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, 1902, and the one currently in effect, in 1971)These new constitutions have been part of, and in reaction to, periods of major regional, racial or social upheaval in Virginia.
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==Features==
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The Virgina Constitution defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the Commonwealth of [[Virginia]]Like all other [[State constitution|state constitutions]], it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government, though it may be superseded by the [[United States Constitution]] and U.S. federal law.
  
==Historic Constitutions==
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The current Constitution of Virginia consists of 12 articles and a schedule.<ref name="va">[http://constitution.legis.virginia.gov/ ''Virgina's Legislative Information System'', "Constitution of Virginia," accessed March 30, 2014]</ref>
  
===1776===
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==[[Article I, Virginia Constitution|Article I: Bill of Rights]]==
The preparation of the first Virginia Constitution began in early 1776, in the midst of the early events of the American Revolution.  Among those who drafted the 1776 Constitution were George Mason, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson was also Virginia's representative to the Second Continental Congress, and his drafts of the Virginia constitution were direct precursors to his work on the United States Declaration of Independence.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trt003.html|title=American Treasures of the Library of Congress; Draft of the Virginia Constitution|accessdate=2006-09-12|publisher=Library of Congress}}</ref>  Likewise, Madison's work on the Virginia Constitution helped him develop the ideas and skills that he would later use as one of the main architects of the United States Constitution.<ref>{{cite journal| last =Schwartz| first =Stephan A.| title =George Mason : Forgotten Founder, He Conceived the Bill of Rights| journal =Smithsonian| issue =31.2| pages =142| date =May, 2000}}</ref>
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Article I of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Bill of Rights" and consists of a preamble followed by 19 sections. It contains the entire original Declaration of Rights from the 1776 Constitution. However, several of the sections have been expanded to incorporate concepts from the [[Bill of Rights, United States Constitution|United States Bill of Rights]], including the right to due process, the prohibition against double jeopardy and the right to bear arms.  Like the [[United States Constitution]], the  
  
The 1776 Constitution declared the dissolution of the rule of Great Britain over Virginia and accused England's King George III of establishing a "detestable and insupportable tyranny." It also established separation of governmental powers, with the creation of the bicameral Virginia General Assembly as the legislative body of the state and the [[Governor]] of Virginia as the "chief magistrate" or executive.  The accompanying Virginia Declaration of Rights, written primarily by Mason, focuses on guarantees of basic human rights and freedoms and the fundamental purpose of government. It, in turn, served as a model for a number of other historic documents, including the United States Bill of Rights.
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==[[Article II, Virginia Constitution|Article II: Franchise and Officers]]==
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Article II of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Franchise and Officers" and consists of nine sections. It establishes the procedures and mechanisms for voting and holding office.  
  
===1830===
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==[[Article III, Virginia Constitution|Article III: Division of Powers]]==
By the 1820s, Virginia was one of only two states that limited voting to landowners, and the residents of Western Virginia (the area that would become [[West Virginia]] in 1863) had grown increasingly discontented with their lack of representation in the legislature.<ref name = "Dabney" >{{cite book |last=Dabney|first=Virginius|authorlink=Virginius Dabney|title=Virginia, The New Dominion|publisher=University Press of Virginia|date=1971|pages=213-216|id=ISBN 0-8139-1015-3}}</ref>  The pressure increased until a constitutional convention was convened in 1829-1830.  This convention was largely a contest between eastern Virginia landowners and the less affluent residents of Western Virginia, and the debate was dominated by issues of representation and suffrage.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.wvculture.org/history/government/182930cc.html|title=1830 Virginia Constitution|accessdate=2006-09-12|publisher=West Virginia Division of Culture and History}}</ref>  Delegates to the convention included such prominent Virginians as James Madison, James Monroe, John Tyler, and John Marshall.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.vahistorical.org/sva2003/vacc.htm|title=The Story of Virginia; Becoming Southerners|accessdate=2006-09-12|publisher=Virginia Historical Society}}</ref>
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Article III of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Division of Powers" and consists of one section. It confirms the principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.  
  
The convention ultimately compromised by loosening the requirements for suffrage and reducing the number of delegates and senators to the Virginia General Assembly.  The resulting constitution was ratified by a popular majority, though most of the voters in the western part of the state ended up voting against it.<ref> Dabney (1971), p.218.</ref>  Thus, the underlying intrastate tensions remained and set the stage for another showdown.
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==[[Article IV, Virginia Constitution|Article IV: Legislature]]==
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Article I of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Legislature" and consists of 18 sections. It establishes the basic structure and authority of the [[Virginia General Assembly]].  The legislative power of the state is vested in the Virginia General Assembly, which consists of the [[Virginia State Senate]] and the [[Virginia House of Delegates]].  
  
===1851===
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==[[Article V, Virginia Constitution|Article V: Executive]]==
As of the 1840 census, western Virginia contained the majority of the white residents of state, and their increasing proportional underrepresentation greatly compounding the dissatisfaction with the electoral scheme adopted in 1830. Western Virginians made several attempts to win electoral reform in the Virginia legislature but were defeated each time.  Their resulting sense of frustration reached the point that some began to openly discuss the abolition of slavery or secession from the state.<ref>{{cite book |last=Wilentz|first=Sean|authorlink=Sean Wilentz|title=The Rise of American Democracy, Jefferson to Lincoln|publisher=W.W. Norton & Company|date=2005|pages=587-588|id=ISBN 0-393-05820-4}}</ref>  Ultimately, these pressures could not be ignored by the East, and a new
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Article V of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Executive" and consists of 17 sections. It similarly defines the structure and powers of the executive branch. The [[Governor of Virginia]] is invested as the chief executive, though Section 1 of Article V, provides that the Governor may not run for successive terms. The offices of [[Lieutenant Governor]] and [[Attorney General]] are established as supporting elected constitutional positions.
constitutional convention was called met to resolve the continuing tensions.
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The most significant change adopted in the resulting 1851 Constitution was that the property requirement for voting was eliminated, meaning that all white male residents of Virginia could now vote.  The 1851 Constitution further established that the [[Governor]], the newly created office of Lieutenant Governor, and all Virginia judges would be popularly elected.  In light of the progress made toward resolving long festering issues of suffrage and representation, the 1851 Virginia Constitution became known as the "Reform Constitution."<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.wvhumanities.org/Statehood/reformconvention.htm|title=Constitution of 1851|accessdate=2006-09-12|publisher=West Virginia Encyclopedia}}</ref>
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The constitutional powers of the Governor include the ability to sign legislation, veto bills (which veto may then be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the assembly) and issue pardons.
  
===1864===
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==[[Article VI, Virginia Constitution|Article VI: Judiciary]]==
When, in 1861, Virginia voted for secession in the events leading up to the American Civil War, all of the western and several of the northern counties dissented and set up a separate government with Francis H. Pierpont as Governor.  It was this separate government that, during the midst of the Civil War, approved the separation of West Virginia and the creation of a new Constitution in 1864.<ref name = "Salmon" >{{cite book|last=Salmon|first=Emily|coauthors=Edward D.C. Campbell, Jr.|title=The Hornbook of Virginia History|publisher=The Library of Virginia|date=1994|pages=45-47|id=ISBN 0-88490-177-7}}</ref>  Thus, this Constitution was the product of a divided state and government, and also the first, since the original 1776 Constitution, to be adopted without a popular vote.  
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Article VI of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Judiciary" and consists of 12 sections. Article VI vests judicial power in the [[Judgepedia:Supreme Court of Virginia|Supreme Court of Virginia]], along with the subordinate courts created by the General Assembly. Judges are appointed by a majority vote in the General Assembly to terms of 12 years for Supreme Court Justices and 8 years for other judges. The Supreme Court, pursuant to Section 5, has the authority to make rules governing the practice of law and procedures in the courts of the commonwealth, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is established as the administrative head of the Virginia judicial system.
  
The 1864 Constitution abolished slavery in Virginia, disfranchised any representatives who served in the Confederate government and adjusted the number and terms of office of the members of the Virginia Assembly.<ref name = "Cylcopaedia" >{{cite web |url=http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy1063.html|title=Cyclopaedia of Political Science; Virginia|accessdate=2006-09-12|publisher=Library of Economics and Liberty}}</ref> The foreword to the current Virginia Constitution does not include the 1864 Constitution in its list of previous constitutions, noting that the 1864 Constitution was drafted under wartime conditions and thus of uncertain legal significance.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://legis.state.va.us/Laws/search/ConstOfVa.pdf|title=Constitution of Virginia; Foreword|accessdate=2006-09-13|publisher=Virginia General Assembly}}</ref>
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==[[Article VII, Virginia Constitution|Article VII: Local Government]]==
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Article VII of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Local Government" and consists of ten sections. Article VII established the basic framework for the structure and function of local government in Virginia. Local government may be established at the town (population over 1,000), city (population over 5,000), county or regional government levelArticle VII gives the General Assembly the power to create general laws for the organization and governing of these political subdivisions, except that regional governments cannot be created without the consent of the majority of the voters in the region.
  
===1870===
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==[[Article VIII, Virginia Constitution|Article VIII: Education]]==
After the end of the Civil War, Virginia came briefly under military rule, with John M. Schofield in command.  Pursuant to federal Reconstruction legislation, General Schofield promptly called for a new constitutional convention to meet in Richmond from December 1867 to April 1868.  In protest of black suffrage, many of Virginia's conservative whites refused to participate in the voting for delegates.<ref name= "Emancipation" > {{cite book |last=Morgan |first=Lynda |title=Emancipation in Virginia's Tobacco Belt, 1850-1870 |publisher=University of Georgia Press |date=1992 |pages =160-166 |id=ISBN 0-8203-1415-3}}</ref>  As a result, Radical Republicans, led by Judge John Underwood, dominated the convention, and the resulting constitution became known as the "Underwood Constitution."<ref>Salmon (1994), p.52.</ref>  Opponents to its ratification derisively called it the "Negro Constitution."<ref name = "Emancipation" />
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Article I of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of 11 sections. A compulsory and free primary and secondary public education for every Virginia child is the focus of Article VIII.  
  
Significant provisions in the Underwood Constitution included extending the right to vote to all male citizens over the age of 21 (thus granting the vote to African American males), establishing a state school system with mandatory funding and attendance, and providing that judges would be elected by the General Assembly rather than by popular election.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/NPS/Manassas/SudleyPostOffice/Chapter%202A.htm  |title=Views of a Changing Landscape; Historical Background for Sudley Post Office|accessdate=2006-09-14|publisher=University of Maryland}}</ref>  Controversy over clauses that continued the disfranchisement of former Confederate government members delayed the adoption of the ConstitutionHowever, a compromise was eventually reached that provided for separate voting on the disfranchisement clauses and the rest of the Constitution, with the former failing to win approval.<ref name = "Cylcopaedia" /> The remainder of the Underwood Constitution was ratified by a popular vote of 210,585 to 9,136, and went into effect in 1870.
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==[[Article IX, Virginia Constitution|Article IX: Corporations]]==
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Article IX of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of seven sections. The primary purpose of Article IX is to create the [[Virginia State Corporation Commission]], which is charged with administering the laws that regulate corporationsThe State Corporation Commission also issues charters for Virginia corporations and licenses to do business for “foreign” (non-Virginia) corporationsSection 5 of Article IX prohibits such foreign corporations from doing anything in Virginia that a Virginia corporation could not do.
  
===1902===
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==[[Article X, Virginia Constitution|Article X: Taxation and Finance]]==
By the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Jim Crow era had taken root, and six Southern states had already disenfranchised African American voters.  Political pressure mounted within Virginia to eliminate the black vote, ostensibly as a way to stop electoral fraud and corruption.<ref name= "Byrd" > {{cite book |last=Moger |first=Allen |title=Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, 1870-1925 |publisher=University Press of Virginia |date=1968 |pages =181-183 |id=OCLC 435376}}</ref> The 1901 constitutional convention met during this climate, and the convention was primarily focused on restricting such voting rights without violating the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or disenfranchising poor whites.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.vahistorical.org/onthisday/21601.htm|title=Virginia's Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902|accessdate=2006-09-14|publisher=Virginia Historical Society}}</ref> The delegates, under the leadership of future Senator Carter Glass, accomplished this goal by creating requirements that all prospective voters had to pay poll taxes or pass a literacy test. An exemption was granted for military veterans and sons of veterans, who were virtually all white.  The changes were effective in disenfranchising black voters, though many illiterate whites were also unable to meet the new requirements; succeeding elections showed that the Virginia electorate had effectively been cut in half as a result of the changes.<ref> Dabney (1971), pp.436-437.</ref>
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Article X of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Taxation and Finance" and consists of twelve sections. Article X establishes the basic structure for taxation of personal property in Virginia. Pursuant to this article, all non-exempt real and personal property is subject to taxation at its fair market valueSection 6 sets out a lengthy list of exempt property, which includes church property, cemeteries and non-profit school property.
  
Other significant provisions of the 1902 Constitution included the requirement of racial segregation in schools, the abolition of the county court system and the creation of the State Corporation Commission. Concern over African American opposition resulted in the convention refusing to honor its pledge that the proposed constitution would be put to popular vote.<ref> Moger (1968), pp.192-200.</ref>  Thus, like the 1864 Constitution, the 1902 Constitution was adopted without ratification by the electorate.  It ended up remaining in effect far longer than any previous Virginia constitution.<ref> Dabney (1971), pp.439-440.</ref>
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==[[Article XI, Virginia Constitution|Article XI: Conservation]]==
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Article XI of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Conservation" and consists of four sections. Article XI states that it is the general policy of the Commonwealth to preserve, protect and conserve the state’s natural and historic resources. The General Assembly is permitted to further these policies by entering into public-private partnerships or partnerships with federal agencies.
  
==Current Constitution (1971)==
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A 2001 amendment added Section 4, which establishes hunting and fishing as constitutional rights of Virginians, though the legislature may enact appropriate regulations and restrictions on these rights.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a series of Supreme Court cases, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education, had struck down the most controversial aspects of the 1902 Constitution - the provisions restricting voting by African Americans and mandating school segregation.  This, combined with the election of Governor Mills Godwin in 1965, created an impetus for governmental change.  Godwin strongly advocated the loosening of the strict constitutional restrictions on state issued bonds and borrowing, and used his power and popularity to push for a new constitution.  So, in 1968 a joint resolution of the Virginia General Assembly approved a new commission, chaired by former Governor Albertis Harrison, to revise the constitution.<ref>Salmon (1994). pp.78-79.</ref>
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The Commission on Constitutional Revision presented its report and recommendations to Governor Godwin and the General Assembly in January 1969, and continued to work with them to draft a final consensus version.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.law.virginia.edu/lawweb/lawweb2.nsf/d463cf2036005b1a852566ac007a2601/21c74a5649a75f8c852567440050276c?OpenDocument|title=Register of the Papers of A.E.Dick Howard for the Virginia Commission for Constitutional Revision; 1969-71|accessdate=2006-09-15|publisher=University of Virginia}}</ref>  The proposed Constitution was then overwhelmingly approved by the voters of Virginia and took effect on July 1, 1971.
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==[[Article XII, Virginia Constitution|Article XII: Future changes]]==
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Article XII of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Future Changes" and consists of two sections. It establishes the mechanism for future changes to the constitution.  
  
The current Constitution of Virginia consists of twelve Articles<ref>All references below are to the articles and sections of the {{Citation |title=Constitution of Virginia (1971, as amended) |publisher=Commonwealth of Virginia |url=http://legis.state.va.us/Laws/search/ConstitutionTOC.htm}}</ref>:
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==Amending the constitution==
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:: ''See also: [[Amending state constitutions]] and [[Article XII, Virginia Constitution]]''
  
===Article I - Bill of Rights===
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The Virginia Constitution can be amended via two different paths:
  
:: ''See also: [[Article I, Virginia Constitution]]''
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'''1.'''  Through a {{lrcafull}} as established in [[Article XII, Virginia Constitution#Section 1|Section 1 of Article XII]]. These can be proposed in either house of the [[Virginia State Legislature]].  If a proposed amendment is approved by a simple majority vote in one session of the state legislature, it is automatically referred to the next session of the state legislature that occurs after the next general election of members of the [[Virginia House of Delegates]].  If in that second session the proposed amendment is "agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house" it is then placed before the state's voters.  It can go on a special or general election ballot.  If approved by a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.
  
Article I contains the entire original Virginia Declaration of Rights from the 1776 Constitution.  However, several of the sections have been expanded to incorporate concepts from the United States Bill of Rights, including the right to due process, the prohibition against double jeopardy and the right to bear armsLike the Federal Constitution, the Virginia Bill of Rights, in §17, states that the listing of certain rights is not to be construed to exclude other rights held by the people.
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'''2.''' Through a [[constitutional convention]] as established in [[Article XII, Virginia Constitution#Section 2|Section 2 of Article XII]]A convention can happen if the state's legislature "by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house" calls a convention.
  
In 1997, a Victims' Rights Amendment was added to the Virginia Bill of Rights as §8-A.
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==History==
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Virginia enacted its first constitution in 1776, in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence by the original thirteen states of the United States. In addition to frequent amendments, there have been six major subsequent revisions of the constitution (in 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, 1902 and the one currently in effect, in 1971). These new constitutions have been part of and in reaction to periods of major regional, racial or social upheaval in Virginia.<ref>[http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/518 ''Virginia Government Matters'', "Virginia Constitution, 1830," accessed March 30, 2014]</ref>
  
On November 7, 2006, an amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage was approved by Virginia voters to be added to the Bill of Rights.  This amendment also prohibits the recognition of any "union, partnership, or other legal status" between unmarried people that intends to approximate marriage or which confers the "rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage." The legal effect on "marriage-like" relationships between unmarried people is unknown.
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On June 29, 1776, the representatives voted to approve the first Constitution of Virginia, which also declared Virginia’s independence from the King. Virginia’s Constitution was the first written constitution adopted by the people’s representatives in the history of the world. Thus, Virginia had a functioning, permanent, republican constitution one week before July 4, 1776 – the first in the colonies, the first in the world.<ref>[http://theaquilareport.com/virginias-constitution-the-first-in-the-colonies-the-first-in-the-world-approved-june-29-1776/ ''The Aquila Report'', "Virginia’s Constitution: The First in the Colonies, the First in the World, Approved June 29, 1776," accessed March 30, 2014]</ref> The Virginia constitution was a model for the governments of other states and most important, the national government of the United States.<ref>[http://www.virginiamemory.com/online_classroom/shaping_the_constitution/doc/va_constitution ''Virginia Memory'', "First Virginia Constitution: June 29, 1776," accessed March 30, 2014]</ref>
  
===Article II - Franchise and Officers===
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The [http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/516 1830 constitution] was the first revision to the state constitution, and helped adapt the 1776 framework to the logistics of running a government.
  
:: ''See also: [[Article II, Virginia Constitution]]''
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The [http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/519 constitution of 1851] took significant steps in extending voting rights. In previous versions, only white male property holders could vote. With new revisions, all white men were eligible to vote.
  
The second Article of the Constitution sets out the procedures and mechanisms for voting and holding office. The sections in this Article have been subject to numerous technical amendments over the years.  For example, the original voting age was set at 21, though it was lowered to 18 by an amendment that became effective in 1973.
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The [http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/520 1864 constitution] was written during the midst of the Civil War. When the majority of the state voted to secede from the Union, a group of dissenters set up an alternate, pro-Union government. Two of the most significant changes in the 1864 constitution were the abolition of slavery and the establishment of [[West Virginia]] as an independent state. However, these changes did not take effect until after the Civil War ended.
  
===Article III - Division of Powers===
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The [http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/517 Constitution of 1902] incorporated several new programs and rules that reflected the times.
  
:: ''See also: [[Article III, Virginia Constitution]]''
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==See also==
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[[File:StateConstitutions Ballotpedia.jpg|right|175px]]
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* [[State constitution]]
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* [[Constitutional article]]
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* [[Constitutional amendment]]
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* [[Constitutional revision]]
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* [[Constitutional convention]]
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* [[Amendment|Amendments]]
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** [[Initiated constitutional amendment]]
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** [[Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment]]
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** [[Publication requirements for proposed state constitutional amendments]]
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** [[Rules about constitutional conventions in state constitutions]]
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** [[State constitutional articles governing state legislatures]]
  
Article III confirms the principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Separation between the branches of government was also listed as a right of the people in §5 of Article I.
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==External links==
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{{submit a link}}
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*[http://constitution.legis.virginia.gov/ ''Virgina's Legislative Information System'', "Constitution of Virginia"]
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*[http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va05.htm ''Yale.edu'', "1776 Constitution"]
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*[http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/516 ''Virginia Government Matters'', "Virginia Constitution 1830"]
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*[http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/519 ''Virginia Government Matters'', "Virginia Constitution 1851"]
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*[http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/520 ''Virginia Government Matters'', "Virginia Constitution 1864"]
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*[http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/517 ''Virginia Government Matters'', "Virginia Constitution 1902"]
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*[http://www.vahistorical.org/ ''Virginia Historical Society'']
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*[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss252qHHeD8 ''You Tube'', "Brief History of the Virginia Constitution"]
  
===Article IV - Legislature===
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==Additional reading==
 
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* [http://www.amazon.com/Virginia-Constitution-Oxford-Commentaries-Constitutions-ebook/dp/B00IS5Q8J6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396869406&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Virginia+Constitution Dinan, John. (2014). ''The Virginia State Constitution'', New York, New York: Oxford University Press]
:: ''See also: [[Article IV, Virginia Constitution]]''
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* [http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4248066?uid=3739552&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103629569701 Selby, John E. “Henry Lee, John Adams and the Virginia Constitution of 1776”  in the ''Virginia Magazine of History and Biography'' 84, No. 4 (Oct. 1976): 387–400]
 
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* Holt, Wythe W. Jr., "The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902," in the ''Virginia Magazine of History and Biography'' 76 (January, 1968), pp.67-102
Article IV establishes the basic structure and authority of the Virginia legislature.  The legislative power of the state is vested in the Virginia General Assembly, which consists of the Virginia Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates.  §17 of Article IV gives the legislature the power to impeach members of the executive and judicial branches.
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* McDaniel, Ralph C. (1928). ''The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902'', Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins Press
 
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The original §14 of Article IV forbade the incorporation of churches, though the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision, in its 1969 report, had recognized that the prohibition was probably invalid.  The federal district court for the Western District of Virginia ruled in April 2002 that this provision of the Virginia Constitution was in fact unconstitutional, because it violates the federal constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. ''Falwell v. Miller'', [[Case citation|203 F. Supp.2d 624]] (W.D. Va. 2002). The court found that it is unconstitutional to deny a church the option to incorporate under state law when other groups can incorporate.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/documents/2006_Constitutional_Amendments/2006ques_church_APPROVED.pdf|title=Proposed Constitutional Amendment; Ballot Question Number 2|accessdate=2006-10-31|publisher=Virginia State Board of Elections}}</ref>  An amendment striking the ban on church incorporation was approved by Virginia voters in November 2006.
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===Article V - Executive===
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:: ''See also: [[Article V, Virginia Constitution]]''
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The fifth Article similarly defines the structure and powers of the executive branch.  The Governor of Virginia is invested as the chief executive, though §1 of Article V, provides that the Governor may not run for successive terms. The offices of Lieutenant Governor and [[Attorney General]] are established as supporting elected constitutional positions.
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The constitutional powers of the Governor include the ability to sign legislation, veto bills (which veto may then be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the assembly), and issue pardons.
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===Article VI - Judiciary===
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:: ''See also: [[Article VI, Virginia Constitution]]''
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Article VI vests judicial power in the Supreme Court of Virginia, along with the subordinate courts created by the General Assembly.  Judges are appointed by a majority vote in the General Assembly to terms of 12 years for Supreme Court Justices and 8 years for other judges.  The Supreme Court, pursuant to §5, has the authority to make rules governing the practice of law and procedures in the courts of the commonwealth (see [http://leg1.state.va.us/000/scr/TOC.HTM rules]), and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is established as the administrative head of the Virginia judicial system.
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===Article VII - Local Government===
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:: ''See also: [[Article VII, Virginia Constitution]]''
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Article VII of the Constitution sets up the basic framework for the structure and function of local government in Virginia. Local government may be established at the town (population over 1000), city (population over 5000), county or regional government level.  Article VII gives the General Assembly the power to create general laws for the organization and governing of these political subdivisions, except that regional governments cannot be created without the consent of the majority of the voters in the region.
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Section 4 establishes the constitutional offices of treasurer, sheriff, Commonwealth's Attorney, clerk of court and commissioner of revenue to be elected within each city and county in Virginia.
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===Article VIII - Education===
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:: ''See also: [[Article VIII, Virginia Constitution]]''
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A compulsory and free primary and secondary public education for every Virginia child is the focus of Article VIII.  The General Assembly is empowered to determine the funding for the educational system and apportion the cost between state and local government.  A state Board of Education is established to create school divisions and effectuate the overall educational policies.  Actual supervision of the individual schools is delegated to local school boards, provided for in §7.
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===Article IX - Corporations===
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:: ''See also: [[Article IX, Virginia Constitution]]''
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The primary purpose of Article IX is to create the Virginia State Corporation Commission, which is charged with administering the laws that regulate corporations. The State Corporation Commission also issues charters for Virginia corporations and licenses to do business for “foreign” (non-Virginia) corporations.  Section 5 of Article IX prohibits such foreign corporations from doing anything in Virginia that a Virginia corporation could not do.
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===Article X - Taxation and Finance===
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:: ''See also: [[Article X, Virginia Constitution]]''
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Article X establishes the basic structure for taxation of personal property in Virginia.  Pursuant to this Article, all non-exempt real and personal property is subject to taxation at its fair market value. Section 6 sets out a lengthy list of exempt property, which includes church property, cemeteries, and non-profit school property.
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Significant additions to Article X include §7, a budget amendment, which became effective in 1986, and §7-A, which establishes the "Lottery Proceeds Fund," requiring that all proceeds from the state lottery be set aside for educational purposes.
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===Article XI - Conservation===
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:: ''See also: [[Article XI, Virginia Constitution]]''
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Article XI states that it is the general policy of the Commonwealth to preserve, protect and conserve the state’s natural and historic resources.  The General Assembly is permitted to further these policies by entering into public-private partnerships or partnerships with federal agencies.
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A 2001 amendment added §4, which establishes hunting and fishing as constitutional rights of Virginians, though the legislature may enact appropriate regulations and restrictions on these rights.
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===Article XII - Future changes===
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:: ''See also: [[Article XII, Virginia Constitution]]''
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The last Article creates the mechanism for future changes to the Constitution.  Any amendment to the Constitution must first be passed by a majority in each of the two legislative houses.  The proposed amendment must then be held over for consideration by the succeeding elected legislature, where it must again be passed by a majority in each house.  The amendment then goes on the general [[ballot]] and becomes enacted into the Constitution if approved by a majority of the voters.
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Alternately, a two-thirds majority of both Virginia houses may call for the creation of a constitutional convention. Any revisions or amendments proposed by the constitutional convention are presented to the citizens of Virginia and become law upon approval by a majority of voters.
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==Amending the constitution==
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:: ''See also: [[Amending state constitutions]]''
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The Virginia Constitution can be amended via two different paths:
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'''1.'''  Through a {{lrcafull}} as established in [[Article XII, Virginia Constitution#Section 1|Section 1 of Article XII]]. These can be proposed in either house of the [[Virginia State Legislature]].  If a proposed amendment is approved by a simple majority vote in one session of the state legislature, it is automatically referred to the next session of the state legislature that occurs after the next general election of members of the [[Virginia House of Delegates]].  If in that second session the proposed amendment is "agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house" it is then placed before the state's voters.  It can go on a special or general election ballot.  If approved by a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.
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'''2.''' Through a [[constitutional convention]] as established in [[Article XII, Virginia Constitution#Section 2|Section 2 of Article XII]].  A convention can happen if the state's legislature "by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house" calls a convention.
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==External links==
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{{wikipedia}}
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*[http://legis.state.va.us/Laws/search/ConstitutionTOC.htm Constitution of Virginia (current version, adopted 1971)]
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*[http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va05.htm Text of the 1776 Constitution]
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*[http://www.wvculture.org/history/government/1830constitution01.html Text of the 1830 Constitution]
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==References==
 
==References==
* 1.  [http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trt003.html American Treasures of the Library of Congress; Draft of the Virginia Constitution]. Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
 
* 2. Schwartz, Stephan A. (May, 2000). "George Mason : Forgotten Founder, He Conceived the Bill of Rights."[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithsonian_%28magazine%29 Smithsonian] (31.2): 142. 
 
* 3.  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginius_Dabney Dabney, Virginius] (1971). Virginia, The New Dominion. University Press of Virginia, 213-216. ISBN 0-8139-1015-3. 
 
* 4.  [http://www.wvculture.org/history/government/182930cc.html 1830 Virginia Constitution]. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
 
* 5. [http://www.vahistorical.org/sva2003/vacc.htm The Story of Virginia; Becoming Southerners]. Virginia Historical Society. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
 
* 6. Dabney (1971), p.218.
 
* 7. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Wilentz Wilentz, Sean] (2005). The Rise of American Democracy, Jefferson to Lincoln. W.W. Norton & Company, 587-588. ISBN 0-393-05820-4. 
 
* 8. [http://www.wvhumanities.org/Statehood/reformconvention.htm Constitution of 1851]. West Virginia Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
 
* 9. Salmon, Emily; Edward D.C. Campbell, Jr. (1994). The Hornbook of Virginia History. The Library of Virginia, 45-47. ISBN 0-88490-177-7. 
 
* 10. [http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy1063.html a b Cyclopaedia of Political Science; Virginia. Library of Economics and Liberty]. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
 
* 11. [http://legis.state.va.us/Laws/search/ConstOfVa.pdf Constitution of Virginia; Foreword]. Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved on 2006-09-13.
 
* 12. a b Morgan, Lynda (1992). Emancipation in Virginia's Tobacco Belt, 1850-1870. University of Georgia Press, 160-166. ISBN 0-8203-1415-3. 
 
* 13. Salmon (1994), p.52.
 
* 14. [http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/NPS/Manassas/SudleyPostOffice/Chapter%202A.htm Views of a Changing Landscape; Historical Background for Sudley Post Office]. University of Maryland. Retrieved on 2006-09-14.
 
* 15. Moger, Allen (1968). Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, 1870-1925. University Press of Virginia, 181-183. OCLC 435376. 
 
* 16. [http://www.vahistorical.org/onthisday/21601.htm Virginia's Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902]. Virginia Historical Society. Retrieved on 2006-09-14.
 
* 17. Dabney (1971), pp.436-437.
 
* 18. Moger (1968), pp.192-200.
 
* 19. Dabney (1971), pp.439-440.
 
* 20. Salmon (1994). pp.78-79.
 
* 21. Register of the Papers of A.E.Dick Howard for the Virginia Commission for Constitutional Revision; 1969-71. University of Virginia. Retrieved on 2006-09-15.
 
* 22. All references below are to the articles and sections of the Constitution of Virginia (1971, as amended), Commonwealth of Virginia, <http://legis.state.va.us/Laws/search/ConstitutionTOC.htm>
 
* 23. [http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/documents/2006_Constitutional_Amendments/2006ques_church_APPROVED.pdf Proposed Constitutional Amendment; Ballot Question Number 2]. Virginia State Board of Elections. Retrieved on 2006-10-31.
 
 
{{reflist}}
 
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{{Virginia Constitution}}
 
{{Virginia Constitution}}
 
{{State constitutions}}
 
{{State constitutions}}
 
{{Virginia}}
 
{{Virginia}}

Revision as of 06:42, 7 April 2014

Virginia Constitution
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Articles
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The Constitution of Virginia is the basic governing document of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Features

The Virgina Constitution defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Like all other state constitutions, it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government, though it may be superseded by the United States Constitution and U.S. federal law.

The current Constitution of Virginia consists of 12 articles and a schedule.[1]

Article I: Bill of Rights

Article I of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Bill of Rights" and consists of a preamble followed by 19 sections. It contains the entire original Declaration of Rights from the 1776 Constitution. However, several of the sections have been expanded to incorporate concepts from the United States Bill of Rights, including the right to due process, the prohibition against double jeopardy and the right to bear arms. Like the United States Constitution, the

Article II: Franchise and Officers

Article II of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Franchise and Officers" and consists of nine sections. It establishes the procedures and mechanisms for voting and holding office.

Article III: Division of Powers

Article III of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Division of Powers" and consists of one section. It confirms the principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

Article IV: Legislature

Article I of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Legislature" and consists of 18 sections. It establishes the basic structure and authority of the Virginia General Assembly. The legislative power of the state is vested in the Virginia General Assembly, which consists of the Virginia State Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates.

Article V: Executive

Article V of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Executive" and consists of 17 sections. It similarly defines the structure and powers of the executive branch. The Governor of Virginia is invested as the chief executive, though Section 1 of Article V, provides that the Governor may not run for successive terms. The offices of Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General are established as supporting elected constitutional positions.

The constitutional powers of the Governor include the ability to sign legislation, veto bills (which veto may then be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the assembly) and issue pardons.

Article VI: Judiciary

Article VI of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Judiciary" and consists of 12 sections. Article VI vests judicial power in the Supreme Court of Virginia, along with the subordinate courts created by the General Assembly. Judges are appointed by a majority vote in the General Assembly to terms of 12 years for Supreme Court Justices and 8 years for other judges. The Supreme Court, pursuant to Section 5, has the authority to make rules governing the practice of law and procedures in the courts of the commonwealth, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is established as the administrative head of the Virginia judicial system.

Article VII: Local Government

Article VII of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Local Government" and consists of ten sections. Article VII established the basic framework for the structure and function of local government in Virginia. Local government may be established at the town (population over 1,000), city (population over 5,000), county or regional government level. Article VII gives the General Assembly the power to create general laws for the organization and governing of these political subdivisions, except that regional governments cannot be created without the consent of the majority of the voters in the region.

Article VIII: Education

Article I of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of 11 sections. A compulsory and free primary and secondary public education for every Virginia child is the focus of Article VIII.

Article IX: Corporations

Article IX of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of seven sections. The primary purpose of Article IX is to create the Virginia State Corporation Commission, which is charged with administering the laws that regulate corporations. The State Corporation Commission also issues charters for Virginia corporations and licenses to do business for “foreign” (non-Virginia) corporations. Section 5 of Article IX prohibits such foreign corporations from doing anything in Virginia that a Virginia corporation could not do.

Article X: Taxation and Finance

Article X of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Taxation and Finance" and consists of twelve sections. Article X establishes the basic structure for taxation of personal property in Virginia. Pursuant to this article, all non-exempt real and personal property is subject to taxation at its fair market value. Section 6 sets out a lengthy list of exempt property, which includes church property, cemeteries and non-profit school property.

Article XI: Conservation

Article XI of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Conservation" and consists of four sections. Article XI states that it is the general policy of the Commonwealth to preserve, protect and conserve the state’s natural and historic resources. The General Assembly is permitted to further these policies by entering into public-private partnerships or partnerships with federal agencies.

A 2001 amendment added Section 4, which establishes hunting and fishing as constitutional rights of Virginians, though the legislature may enact appropriate regulations and restrictions on these rights.

Article XII: Future changes

Article XII of the Virginia Constitution is entitled "Future Changes" and consists of two sections. It establishes the mechanism for future changes to the constitution.

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions and Article XII, Virginia Constitution

The Virginia Constitution can be amended via two different paths:

1. Through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment as established in Section 1 of Article XII. These can be proposed in either house of the Virginia State Legislature. If a proposed amendment is approved by a simple majority vote in one session of the state legislature, it is automatically referred to the next session of the state legislature that occurs after the next general election of members of the Virginia House of Delegates. If in that second session the proposed amendment is "agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house" it is then placed before the state's voters. It can go on a special or general election ballot. If approved by a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.

2. Through a constitutional convention as established in Section 2 of Article XII. A convention can happen if the state's legislature "by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house" calls a convention.

History

Virginia enacted its first constitution in 1776, in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence by the original thirteen states of the United States. In addition to frequent amendments, there have been six major subsequent revisions of the constitution (in 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, 1902 and the one currently in effect, in 1971). These new constitutions have been part of and in reaction to periods of major regional, racial or social upheaval in Virginia.[2]

On June 29, 1776, the representatives voted to approve the first Constitution of Virginia, which also declared Virginia’s independence from the King. Virginia’s Constitution was the first written constitution adopted by the people’s representatives in the history of the world. Thus, Virginia had a functioning, permanent, republican constitution one week before July 4, 1776 – the first in the colonies, the first in the world.[3] The Virginia constitution was a model for the governments of other states and most important, the national government of the United States.[4]

The 1830 constitution was the first revision to the state constitution, and helped adapt the 1776 framework to the logistics of running a government.

The constitution of 1851 took significant steps in extending voting rights. In previous versions, only white male property holders could vote. With new revisions, all white men were eligible to vote.

The 1864 constitution was written during the midst of the Civil War. When the majority of the state voted to secede from the Union, a group of dissenters set up an alternate, pro-Union government. Two of the most significant changes in the 1864 constitution were the abolition of slavery and the establishment of West Virginia as an independent state. However, these changes did not take effect until after the Civil War ended.

The Constitution of 1902 incorporated several new programs and rules that reflected the times.

See also

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External links

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Suggest a link

Additional reading

References