McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Today I’ll be taking an in-depth look at California’s Constitution, and also do a brief comparison of California’s Constitution to the U.S. Constitution.

California’s Constitution was adopted in 1849, just prior to California becoming a state in 1850. It is the governing document for the state of California. By most accounts, our state’s constitution is one of the longest in the world. It has been amended or revised some five hundred times.

The main reason why California’s constitution is so lengthy is that there are numerous provisions adopted by the people – either through ballot measures at statewide elections or through other means. One factor in that is that the signature requirement to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot is one of the lowest of all the states.

California’s constitution provides for cities and counties, as well as charter cities, whose local ordinances can be insulated from state laws. The state constitution also specifies that cities are allowed to pay counties to perform governmental functions, such as public safety services.

When comparing the U.S. Constitution to California’s Constitution, the first that thing stands out is that the U.S. Constitution spells out the powers of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches in its first three Articles – respectively – the California Constitution does not cover the three branches of government until Articles IV through VI. The California Constitution instead sets forth personal rights in Article I, provisions of direct democracy in Article II, and in Article III California’s Constitution provides for the establishment of the state’s government system and other institutions like the University of California.

I go into greater detail about the California and U.S. Constitutions in today’s podcast, and also have a broader discussion about the similarities and contrasts between the two governing documents in the audio as well.