In the United States, each state has its own written constitution.
Usually, they are much longer than the United States Constitution, which only contains 4,543 words. State constitutions are all longer than 8,500 words because they are more detailed regarding the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. The shortest is the Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1793 and currently 8,295 words long. The longest is Alabama's sixth and current constitution, ratified in 1901, about 345,000 words long. Both the federal and state constitutions are organic texts: they are the fundamental blueprints for the legal and political organizations of the United States and the states, respectively.
The Bill of Rights provides that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The Guarantee Clause of Article 4 of the Constitution states that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." These two provisions indicate states did not surrender their wide latitude to adopt a constitution, the fundamental documents of state law, when the U.S. Constitution was adopted.
Typically state constitutions address a wide array of issues deemed by the states to be of sufficient importance to be included in the constitution rather than in an ordinary statute. Often modeled after the federal Constitution, they outline the structure of the state government and typically establish a bill of rights, an executive branch headed by a governor (and often one or more other officials, such as a lieutenant governor and state attorney general), a state legislature, and state courts, including a state supreme court (a few states have two high courts, one for civil cases, the other for criminal cases). They also provide general governmental framework for what each branch is supposed to do and how it should go about doing it. Additionally, many other provisions may be included. Many state constitutions, unlike the federal constitution, also begin with an invocation of God.
Many states have had several constitutions over the course of their history.
The territories of the United States are "organized" and, thus, self-governing if the United States Congress has passed an Organic Act. Two of the 14 territories without commonwealth status - Guam and the United States Virgin Islands - are organized, but haven't adopted their own constitutions. One unorganized territory, American Samoa, has its own constitution. The remaining 13 unorganized territories have no permanent populations and are either under direct control of the U.S. Government or operate as military bases.
The commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) do not have organic acts but operate under local constitutions. Pursuant to the acquisition of Puerto Rico under the Treaty of Paris, 1898, the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is controlled by Article IV of the United States Constitution. Constitutional law in the CNMI is based upon a series of constitutional documents, the most important of which are the 1976 Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in political union with the United States of America, which controls the relationship between the CNMI and the United States; and the local commonwealth constitution, drafted in 1976, ratified by the people of the CNMI in March 1977, accepted by the United States Government in October 1977, and effective from 9 January 1978.
The following is a list of the current constitutions of the states in the United States. Each entry shows the ordinal number of the current constitution, the official name of the current constitution, the date on which the current constitution took effect, and the estimated length of the current constitution. Also below are a description of organic instruments with respect to additional territory.
Note that constitutions of states that were independent countries prior to admission, and constitutions used by rebelling states participating in the American Civil War are not counted.
|No.||Official name||Date of effect||Estimated length||Notes|
|6th||Constitution of the State of Alabama||November 28, 1901||402,852|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Alaska||January 3, 1959||13,479|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Arizona||February 14, 1912||47,306|
|4th||Constitution of the State of Arkansas||October 13, 1874||59,120|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of California||January 1, 1880||76,930|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Colorado||August 1, 1876||84,239|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Connecticut||December 30, 1965||16,401|
|4th||Constitution of the State of Delaware||June 10, 1897||25,445|
|5th||Constitution of the State of Florida||January 7, 1969||49,230|
|10th||Constitution of the State of Georgia||July 1, 1983||41,684|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Hawaii||August 21, 1959||21,498|||
|1st||Constitution of the State of Idaho||July 3, 1890||24,626|
|4th||Constitution of the State of Illinois||July 1, 1971||16,401|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Indiana||November 1, 1851||11,610|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Iowa||August 3, 1857||11,089|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Kansas||January 29, 1861||14,097|||
|4th||Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky||August 3, 1891||27,234|
|11th||Constitution of the State of Louisiana||January 1, 1975||76,730|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Maine||March 3, 1820||16,313|||
|4th||Constitution of the State of Maryland||October 5, 1867||43,198|
|1st||Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts||October 25, 1780||45,283|||
|4th||Constitution of the State of Michigan||January 1, 1964||31,164|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Minnesota||May 11, 1858||12,016|
|4th||Constitution of the State of Mississippi||November 1, 1890||26,229|
|4th||Constitution of the State of Missouri||March 30, 1945||84,924|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Montana||July 1, 1973||12,790|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Nebraska||November 1, 1875||34,934|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Nevada||October 31, 1864||37,418|
|3rd||Constitution of the State of New Hampshire||June 2, 1784||13,238|||
|3rd||Constitution of the State of New Jersey||January 1, 1948||26,360|
|1st||Constitution of the State of New Mexico||January 6, 1912||33,198|
|4th||Constitution of the State of New York||January 1, 1895||49,360|||
|3rd||Constitution of the State of North Carolina||July 1, 1971||17,177|
|1st||Constitution of the State of North Dakota||November 2, 1889||18,746|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Ohio||September 1, 1851||63,140|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Oklahoma||November 16, 1907||84,956|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Oregon||February 14, 1859||49,430|
|4th||Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania||January 1, 1874||26,078|||
|2nd||Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations||January 20, 1987||11,407|
|6th||Constitution of the State of South Carolina||January 1, 1896||27,421|
|1st||Constitution of the State of South Dakota||November 2, 1889||28,840|
|3rd||Constitution of the State of Tennessee||March 26, 1870||13,960|
|4th||Constitution of the State of Texas||February 17, 1876||92,025|||
|1st||Constitution of the State of Utah||January 4, 1896||20,700|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Vermont||July 9, 1793||8,565|||
|7th||Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia||July 1, 1971||22,570|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Washington||November 11, 1889||32,578|
|2nd||Constitution of the State of West Virginia||August 22, 1872||33,324|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Wisconsin||May 29, 1848||15,102|
|1st||Constitution of the State of Wyoming||July 10, 1890||26,349|
|No.||Official name||Date of effect||Notes|
|1st||Charter of the District of Columbia||December 24, 1973|
The District of Columbia has a charter similar to charters of major cities, instead of having a constitution like the states and territories. The District of Columbia Home Rule Act establishes the Council of the District of Columbia, which governs the entire district and has certain devolved powers similar to those of major cities. Congress has full authority over the district and may amend the charter and any legislation enacted by the Council. Attempts at statehood for the District of Columbia have included the drafting of two constitutions in 1982 and 1987, both referring to the district as the "State of New Columbia".