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Pearson Longman PoliticalScience Interactive

Pearson Longman PoliticalScience Interactive

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Pearson Longman PoliticalScience Interactive

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  1. Pearson LongmanPoliticalScienceInteractive Shea, Green, and Smith Living Democracy, Second Texas Edition Chapter 20: The Texas Constitution

  2. Roots of the Texas Constitution • Texas has had several written constitutions. • 1836 • 1845 • 1861 • 1866 • 1869 • 1876

  3. The 1824 Texas Constitution • The 1824 Constitution of Mexico established a federal republic and provided that each state write its own constitution in 1827. • Texas and Coahuila established a state constitution in 1827. • Small Unicameral Legislature, Governor and Vice Governor, most from Coahuila • Written in Spanish • Catholicism official state religion (not applied to Anglos) • Anglos not subject to military service, taxes or customs duties • Texas seen as a buffer against Indians, Americans

  4. The 1836 Texas Constitution • Texans wrote own constitution in 15 days (during the battle for the Alamo) upon Texas independence in 1836 • similar to US system • 17 article “declaration of rights” • Bicameral legislature with House and Senate • Four-level court system, including Supreme Court • Definition of citizenship excluding slaves, Indians, women • Similar to other states • Clergy couldn’t hold office • No imprisonment for debt • Short terms of office • Similar to Spanish Mexican Law • Community property rights • Homesteads protected against taxation • Problems • Very difficult and complex to amend

  5. The 1845 Texas Constitution • 1837: The first try at annexation • Texas ambassador proposes annexation to US President Van Buren • US didn’t want war with Mexico, and declined • 1843: The second try • US President Tyler supports annexation, and negotiations begin • Annexation treaty defeated in US Senate • 1845: SUCCESS! • US President Polk and Congress support annexation by joint resolution. Texas President Anson Jones and Texas Congress agree. • Drew up new state constitution which was ratified in October 1845 • 1845 State of Texas Constitution • Pro: Cited as one of the best of its time • Straightforward and simple – much like US Constitution • Permanent funds for public schools • Separate property rights for married women • Con: – it allowed slavery to continue in Texas • Only allowed importation from US • Free African Americans could leave if Congress let them.

  6. The 1861 Texas Constitution • Texas seceded from the U.S. in February 1861 (Civil War) • Convention to transition Texas into the Confederacy • Replace the 1845 constitution • Deleted provision that provided for the emancipation of slaves • But other provisions regarding slaves and slave trade were not incorporated

  7. The 1866 Texas Constitution • When Texas reentered union after Civil War, Reconstruction required changes to state’s charter. • Acceptance of abolition of slavery • Also added series of narrowly adopted amendments • Governor’s term increased to 4 years • Governor given a line-item veto • Salaries increased • Only white men could serve in the legislature • State supreme court extended to 5 judges; elected to 10 year terms

  8. The 1869 Texas Constitution • Congress ended Reconstruction in 1867 • More requirements were placed on Texas’s readmission • have constitutional convention with delegates elected by all male citizens over 21 regardless of color or previous condition of servitude • write new state constitution providing for universal adult male suffrage • Texas readmitted to Union in 1870

  9. The Current Texas Constitution • Party politics led to special legislative session to assemble constitutional convention in 1875 • 76 Democrats and 14 Republicans elected delegates • Wide range of affiliations, occupations

  10. Reasons for the 1876 Constitution • A reaction to Reconstruction • 1869 constitution had led to Governor E.J. Davis’s regime • Power had been centralized in the state government • Enabling Act – appointed 8,000 officials • State police • Could declare martial law • Education policies in the administration had led to rising costs in property taxes • Other Criticisms: • many leading citizens barred from holding public office because of participation in the Confederacy. • Post-war surge in public investment in schools, roads, and bridges was paid for by much higher taxes and large government deficits. • It was also incomplete – little more than a collection of pieces that had been approved by a bare majority of the convention delegates. • It was overly long, complex and cumbersome • Movement in the 1870s calling for a politics of substantive issues and restrictive constitutionalism

  11. The Constitutional Legacy The Texas Constitution in a Comparative Perspective

  12. Provisions of the 1876 Constitution • Different from US Constitution • US - Liberal constitution • Incorporates the basic structure of government and allows the legislature to provide the details through statutes • Texas - Statutory constitution • Creating the structure and powers of government in great detail • Texas Constitution must be amended by statewide vote. • 17 articles – 16 operative

  13. Provisions of the 1876 Constitution • 16 operative articles – some of the biggies • Article 1: extensive Bill of Rights (now including women’s rights and rights for victims of violent crimes) • Article 2: separation of powers • Article 3: bicameral, biennial legislature • Article 4: independence of major officials ensured by independent election, retains line-item veto • Article 5: creation of judicial system with supreme court (civil), court of appeals (criminal), state and county courts, all elected in partisan elections • Article 7: creation of public school system, segregated by race; office of superintendant and cumpulsory attendance eliminated; no provision for local school taxes

  14. Provisions of the 1876 Constitution • Structure of county government detailed, but scattered in four separate articles • Several articles restricting the legislature’s taxing and spending discretion • Requirement for balanced budget • Provisions for dedicated funds • Article 17: Provisions for amending Constitution • proposal 2/3 vote in both chambers of legislature, ratification by voters • By 2006, the Texas Constitution had been amendment 439 times in only 130 years.

  15. Criticism of the 1876 Constitution • Large number of amendments: • hasn’t fundamentally altered the structure of state government • but have added to one of the longest constitutions in the US • “Deadwood” – many sections unnecessary after changes in US Constitution • Plural executive: • Major executive officers elected separately • Limits power of governor to execute policies • Part-time citizen legislature with low pay: • hard to get things done in so little time • Low pay ($7,200 per year + expenses) affects who can afford to serve • Lack of flexibility in budgetary and law-making functions makes it hard to react quickly to new events and conditions

  16. General Principles and Structural Impact of the Texas Constitution

  17. Comprehensive Revision Effort • In 1973, Constitution Revision Commission submits draft constitution to legislature • In 1974, constitutional convention meets, but adjourns without a new constitution – why? • Legislature was the constitutional convention • Special Interests dominated • Decision rules, like 2/3 rule too restrictive • Fight over “right-to-work” provision (union activity) • Lack of exceptional political leadership – Speaker was a lame duck • “cockroaches” – obstructionists • “revisionists” – those who rejected legislature serving as convention

  18. Constitution Revision – The 1975 Constitutional Amendments • The 1975 Constitutional Amendments • 8 Amendments taken from the 1974 convention, rejected by voters • Reasons for rejection? • Preceded by the Sharpstown political scandal and Watergate • Texans feared that the new constitution would make government too powerful. • Particular concern over state income tax

  19. 1999 Constitutional Revision Effort • Proposed by Rep. Rob Junell and Sen. Bill Ratliff • Created a true chief executive • Simplified the judiciary • Definition of efficient system of public education • Authorization of statewide property tax • Never considered • Texas Constitution remained unchanged

  20. The Texas Constitution Today • Can be found online here • Most recent amendments