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The Law of American State Constitutions$
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Robert F. Williams

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195343083

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343083.001.0001

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Amending and Revising State Constitutions

Amending and Revising State Constitutions

The Law of American State Constitutions

Robert F. Williams

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the variety of mechanisms available to propose changes to state constitutions. Amendments or revisions of state constitutions can be accomplished through legislative proposal, constitutional convention proposal, constitutional commission proposal, and the initiative in states that permit it. In all states other than Delaware, the electors must approve changes to the state constitution. The chapter reviews the use of limited state constitutional conventions, and constitutional commissions. Constitutional revision processes in a variety of states during the 20th century are discussed, together with general lessons that can be derived from those experiences. The chapter describes difficulties faced in modern times with state constitutional amendment and revision, including popular distrust of constitutional conventions and other constitution-making processes. Several proposed improvements to the initiative process for state constitutional change also discussed.

Keywords:   amendment, revision, constitutional convention, constitutional commission, initiative, constitutional change

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