State Constitutions

State Constitutions in the United States

State Constitutions Legal Materials

The original constitutions of the original thirteen states are posted on the 18th Century Documents page of a historical documents Web site create by Yale Law School’s Avalon Project. Other historical historical constitutions are posted by theNBER/Maryland State Constitutions Project; open the pull-down menu for”Select Constitution(s)” to see which constitutions are available. You can also find historical state constitutions included in the superseded volumes of each state’s statutory code.

Current state constitutions are published as part of each state’s current statutory code (see “State Statutes” and/or the entry for individual states by name.)

For a general discussion of state constitutions, see the Constitutions chapter of Fundamentals of Legal Research (West). For detailed analysis of each state’s constitution, see the relevant title in the Reference Guides to the State Constitutions of the United States series published by Greenwood Press (e.g., The New York State Constitution: A Reference Guide).

United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled STATE CONSTITUTIONS, when the American colonies broke with the mother country, several traditions led to the drafting of constitutions for the newly independent states. Steeped in the writings of john locke, Americans might have viewed themselves as being in a kind of state of nature.

Some Constitutional Law Popular Entries

Note: We linked the resources to archive.org in an effort to decrease the number of broken links cited.

State Primary Law

For more primary law resources, see:

Resources

See Also

State Constitutions: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about State Constitutions. This part provides references, in relation to State Constitutions, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about State Constitutions by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about State Constitutions and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about State Constitutions or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to State Constitutions and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting State Constitutions. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about State Constitutions should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to State Constitutions when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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