Constitutions define the basic structure of a government. It encompasses how the government would rule, act on its responsibilities, laws on how the government is to operate, its procedures and limits. Following the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation eventually framed the nation’s constitution. The U.S. Constitution was finally drafted in 1787 (Soifer and Hoffman 5). Since then, the constitution has been changed and amended. It is one of the oldest written constitutions and has in fact become a model for other nations’ constitutions. The constitution is laid out in such a way for a division of power between the national government and the states. For instance, one may compare the U.S. constitution with that of Texas constitution, one of the oldest and still in effect state constitutions.
The Texas Constitution which the state still follows today is the sixth constitution following the time Texas gained freedom from Mexico in 1836(Ericson and Wallace 2008). As stated earlier, the U.S. constitution was approved in 1787 while the Texas constitution was adopted in 1836, making it a 49 year gap. In fact, Texas was admitted as a U.S. state in 1845 (McClenaghan 90). The U.S. constitution has seven articles while the Texas constitution has 17 articles, with Article 17 pertaining to approaches in amending the constitution (Texas Legislative Council 2008). Furthermore, the U.S. constitution has had 27 amendments whereas the Texas constitution has (Cornell University Law School 2008, )
The Texas constitution is unique for it contains stipulations that callback to its Spanish and Mexican heritage (2008). Thus, laws on land titles, marriage and adoption, water and mineral rights are included (2008). It is safe to assume that state governments differ from the national government in terms of needs. There are needs that are unique to a state. In Texas, for instance, there is a law that manages acquisition of natural gas and law (Frantz and Kracht 275).The Texas Constitution starts with a long discussion on the Bill of Rights while Article I of the U.S. Constitution pertains to the delegated powers of the Senate and Congress. Additionally, the Texas Constitution includes provision for the establishment of the University of Texas as well as an institution for educating “black youth of the state” (Ericson and Wallace 2008). There is no such thing in the U.S. constitution, the closest of which may be the amendment that abolished slavery in 1865. Likewise, amendments have been made to the Texas constitution to abolish restrictions and expansions to the public school system (2008).
But the U.S. constitution and Texas constitution have similarities, too. Both have three branches of power- legislative, executive and judicial (Frantz and Kracht 275-276). Both include the Bill of Rights, the powers of government, and process for amending the constitution (Article V for U.S. constitution, Article 17 for Texas Constitution).
The Texas constitution is so detailed that is often described as one of the “most restrictive among state constitutions” (Ericson and Wallace 2008). Verbose in length, some words are said to be written weakly that further explanation are done by the Texas Supreme Court for better comprehension (2008). While the Texas constitution has already undergone several amendments, the state has managed to sustain its 1876 Constitution. The fact that the Texas constitution is still being used today means that the 1876 version must be long-enduring, that it could sustain over time. True, there may be amendments every now and then but the nature of content remains the same.
Cornell University Law School. United States Constitution.
2008. Legal Information Institute. 11 October 2008.
Ericson, Joe and Ernest Wallace. Constitution of 1876. 2008
Handbook of Texas Online. 11 October 2008.
Frantz, Joe and James Kracht. Texas The Study of Our State.
Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1988.
McClenaghan, William. Magruder’s American Government.
Massachusetts: Prentice Hall, 1988.
Soifer, Paul and Abraham Hoffman. American Government.
Nebraska: Cliff Notes.
Texas Legislative Council. Texas Constitution.
Texas: Texas Legislative Council, 2008.