Every state in the nation is governed by its own constitution. There is no set guidelines to creating a state constitution. While each state constitution holds the rules to how its local government will be structured, it can vary in its latitude, constraints and length. They are usually broader in scope than the Constitution of the United States and much more detailed as to how its people can obey its laws.
What Is a Constitution?
A constitution is a written piece of work that neatly and roundly expresses the rules of a political or social organization. It lays out the basic structure of the government that will rule the people or group and establishes the main parts of that governing body, from the executive to the judiciary. It defines the responsibilities of each branch of its ruling body and regulates the relationship between the branches and the people it oversees. It is the basis from which laws are made. No law can be made that does not conform to the constitution.
How the State and U.S. Constitutions Are Similar
There are a few ways that state constitutions are similar to the U.S. Constitution. Most have a preamble, a bill of rights, establish an executive branch and outline the structure of the state’s governing body and have provisions for amendments to be made to them as situations arise, such as technology and growth.
The main two ways the state and U.S. constitution are the same is in the structure of government and checks and balances. Citizens elect representatives that work within the framework of the government established in both constitutions. They divide the power of the government into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch holds the president or governor who is responsible for implementing laws that the legislative branch passes. Both the Federal Constitution and state constitutions require cooperation between each branch and have checks and balances in place to ensure power doesn’t tip toward one over the other.
How They Differ
The main difference is that state constitutions tend to be much larger than the constitution drawn up by the forefathers of the United States and all of its ensuing amendments. They tend to have a broader scope than the Constitution of the United States. It holds just over 4,500 words while most state constitutions can stretch well over 10,000. The state constitution was built for change and is given more updates on a more frequent level than the U.S. Constitution. Many states have had numerous versions of constitutions since becoming an official state.