Constitution of California

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The Constitution of California is the primary organizing law for the U.S. state of California, describing the duties, powers, structures and functions of the government of California. California's original constitution was drafted in both English and Spanish by American pioneers, European settlers, and Californios (Hispanics of California) and adopted at the 1849 Constitutional Convention of Monterey, following the American Conquest of California and the Mexican-American War and in advance of California's Admission to the Union in 1850.[1] The constitution was amended and ratified on 7 May 1879, following the Sacramento Convention of 1878-79.[2]

The Constitution of California is one of the longest collections of laws in the world,[3] partially due to provisions enacted during the Progressive Era limiting powers of elected officials, but largely due to additions by California ballot proposition and voter initiatives, which take form as constitutional amendments. Initiatives can be proposed by the governor, legislature, or by popular petition, giving California one of the most flexible legal systems in the world. It is currently the eighth longest constitution in the world.[4]

Many of the individual rights clauses in the state constitution have been construed as protecting rights even broader than the United States Bill of Rights in the Federal Constitution. An example is the case of Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, in which "free speech" rights beyond those addressed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution were found in the California Constitution by the California courts.[5] One of California's most significant prohibitions is against "cruel or unusual punishment," a stronger prohibition than the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment."

See also


  1. California Secretary of State -1849 California Constitution Fact Sheet
  2. 1879 California constitution. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  3. Janiskee, Brian; Ken Masugi (2007-07-27). "2". Democracy in California: Politics and Government in the Golden State (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7425-4836-7.
  4. "California's Constitution is Not the Longest". SCOCAblog. 24 June 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  5. Linda Greenhouse, "Petitioning Upheld at Shopping Malls: High Court Says States May Order Access to Back Free Speech," The New York Times, 10 June 1980, A1.