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Each of our fifty states has its own state constitution. Some states may have had different constitutions in earlier years; thus, the current constitution may be one of several. The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Art. VI,. cl. 2) establishes three types of "supreme law" --- the federal constitution itself, U.S. statutes, and U.S. treaties --- that will prevail over contrary provisions in state constitutions. Apart from these, the state constitution is the highest primary legal authority for the state.
SEE: the constitution volume(s) which are normally part of any current state code. Here you will normally find the full text of the current (as well as any previous) state constitutions. If the code is an "annotated" code, there will be citations to relevant court decisions following each section of the state constitution. All state codes are not published in the same manner, so there may be differing editorial or bibliographic features in the various codes.
It is often possible to obtain from some state agency a pamphlet containing that state's constitution (unannotated).
SEE ALSO: Constitutions of the United States: National and State, 2d ed., from the Legislative Drafting Research Fund of Columbia University (1974). Book has constitutions of all fifty states and all U.S. territories. Looseleaf, kept current by supplements.
SEE: the constitution volume(s) of any current state codes. Earlier state constitutions can also be found in the constitution volume(s) of superseded state codes. (Obviously, if using a superseded state code volume, it must bear a publication date later than the date of the constitution in question. In addition, you must update your research for cases, articles, etc.) The library holds the superseded volumes of all state codes, mostly in microfiche.
The original, as well as any subsequent, constitutions of a state were most likely adopted through the convening of a state constitutional convention. The journals, proceedings, records, and other documents generated by these conventions are invaluable for historical background and interpretative material on the state constitution.
Fortunately, our library holds the complete collection of all state constitutional conventions and commissions. SEE: State Constitutional Conventions, Commissions, and Amendments on Microfiche (published by Congressional Information Service). There are accompanying hardcopy indexes.
SEE ALSO: A Bibliography on State Constitutions and Constitutional Revision, 1945-1975, by A. Sturm, 1975.
SEE ALSO: Sources and Documents of United States Constitutions, by W. Swindler (1975-1979).
Depending on your research, you may wish to consult a number of older titles. Keep in mind that these works are not up-to-date.
SEE: The annotations after each section of the state constitution as printed in the constitution volume(s) of the current state code.
SEE: The state digest. To ascertain what search words to use in the digest, you might look at the index to the constitution volume(s) in the current state code.
If you find that the courts of your state have not had occasion to adjudicate upon a section of the state constitution, perhaps the courts of otherstates have adjudicated upon a similar or identical provision in the constitutions of their states. To determine which state constitutions have similar provisions, SEE: Index Digest of State Constitutions. (This is a companion set to Constitutions of the United States, National and State, mentioned above.) The Index Digest is arranged alphabetically by subject. Under each subject, there are lists of state constitutional provisions on that subject. Set kept current only to 1971, but still useful.
For other background or interpretative material on state constitutions, see the state law encyclopedia (if one exists), any treatises (textbooks), or periodical articles on the subject. In the constitution volume(s) of some state codes, you may even find historical introductions to the various constitutions, past and present.