Wisconsin Constitution

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Wisconsin Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIV
The Wisconsin Constitution is the basic governing document of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Constitution establishes the structure and function of state government, describes the state boundaries, and declares the rights of state citizens.

Features

The Wisconsin Constitution consists of a brief preamble and 14 articles detailing the state government, its powers and its limitations.[1]

Preamble

See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Wisconsin Constitution states:

We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution.[1]

Article I: Declaration of Rights

Article I of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Declaration of Rights" and consists of 27 sections. This article outlines the legal rights of state citizens. In addition to reaffirming the rights guaranteed in the United States Bill of Rights, Article I of the Wisconsin Constitution offers additional guarantees to its citizens. Among these are sections which prohibit imprisonment for debt, guarantee resident aliens the same property rights as citizens, affirm that the military is subordinate to civil authorities, allow for the use of state owned school buildings by civil and religious organizations during non-school hours and guarantee the right of citizens to hunt and fish.

Article II: Boundaries

Article II of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Boundaries" and consists of two sections.

Article III: Suffrage

Article III of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Suffrage" and consists of six sections, three of which have been repealed.

Article IV: Legislative

Article IV of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Legislative" and consists of 35 sections. The Wisconsin Legislature is divided into two houses, the Wisconsin State Assembly and Wisconsin State Senate.

Article V: Executive

Article V of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Executive" and consists of ten sections. It describes executive office in the state, providing for a governor and lieutenant governor who are elected jointly to four year terms.

Article VI: Administrative

Article VI of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Administrative" and consists of seven sections. It describes other administrative positions, providing for a secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general to be elected to four year terms.

Article VII: Judiciary

Article VII of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Judiciary" and consists of 24 sections. This article outlines the state's judicial branch in Article VII, granting judicial power in the state to a unified Wisconsin Supreme Court consisting of seven justices elected to ten year terms.

Article VIII: Finance

Article VIII of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Finance" and consists of ten sections.

Article IX: Eminent Domain and Property of the State

Article IX of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Eminent Domain and Property of the State" and consists of three sections.

Article X: Education

Article X of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of eight sections.

Article XI: Corporations

Article XI of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of six sections.

Article XII: Amendments

Article XII of the Wisconsin Constitution is labeled "Amendments." In two sections, it describes the two ways that the Wisconsin Constitution can be changed.

Article XIII: Miscellaneous Provisions

Article XIII of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Miscellaneous Provisions" and consists of 12 sections.

Article XIV: Schedule

Article XIV of the Wisconsin Constitution is entitled "Schedule" and consists of 16 sections.

Amending the Constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions

Article XII of the Wisconsin Constitution provides two methods of amendment:

  1. An amendment may be proposed and approved by a simple majority of both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature. That proposed amendment must then be considered by the state legislature chosen at the next general election in the state -- and, before that legislative session, the proposed amendment that it will consider must be published for three months prior to the election. Should the amendment be approved by a simple majority of this second session that considers it, the proposed amendment is then placed on a statewide ballot at a general election. If it is approved by a simple majority of the state's electorate, it becomes part of the constitution.
  2. If a simple majority of both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature votes in favor of this, a constitutional convention question shall be placed on a statewide ballot. If the electors of the state agree by a simple majority to call a constitutional convention, then one shall be convened by the state legislature during its next session.

History

The Wisconsin Constitution was written at a constitutional convention held in Madison, Wisconsin in December 1847. It was approved by the citizens of the Wisconsin Territory in a referendum held in March 1848. Wisconsin was then admitted to the United States on May 29, 1848. Although it has been amended over a hundred times, the original constitution ratified in 1848 is still in use. This makes the Wisconsin Constitution the oldest state constitution outside of New England. Only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island use older constitutions.[2]

Wisconsin has continued to use its original constitution, which was ratified as Wisconsin achieved statehood; however, the current version is the second document to be proposed as the state constitution. A group of 124 representatives met in Madison in 1846 to author a state constitution but came up short with various provisions were considered radical for that era. Because of these various radical provisions, the electorate rejected this first draft of the Wisconsin Constitution and elected a second delegation to draft a second constitution.[3]

The second draft of the Wisconsin Constitution was considered to be a much more conservative document. It was completed in December 1846, approved by the electorate in March 1848 and ratified by the United States Senate.[4]

See also

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External links

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