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California Constitution. (Photo: www.sos.ca.gov)

Frequently Asked Questions about California’s Constitution

What is the California Constitution’s Preamble?

By Chris Micheli, June 23, 2024 7:50 am

When was California’s Constitution first adopted? It was first adopted in 1849, just prior to California becoming a state in 1850.

When was the current state Constitution adopted? The current California Constitution was ratified on May 7, 1879.  It is the governing document for the State.

Is the California Constitution considered lengthy? By most accounts, the state Constitution is one of the longest in the world. In fact, it has been amended or revised over 500 times.

Are state agencies established in the state Constitution? It authorizes a number of state agencies, such as the University of California (and Stanford University for certain property), the State Compensation Insurance Fund, and the State Bar of California.

Does the state Constitution establish local governments? The state Constitution provides for counties and cities, as well as charter cities, whose local ordinances can be insulated from many state laws. In addition, it specifies that cities are permitted to pay counties to perform governmental functions.

What is the California Constitution’s Preamble? It provides, “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.

Do federal and state governments have the same hierarchy of laws? Like its federal counterpart, California’s Constitution is the “supreme law of the land” in this state, followed by state statutes, and then regulations promulgated by state entities. As with the federal level, state statutes and regulations cannot conflict with either the federal or state constitution.

What are the main articles of the US Constitution? The federal Constitution sets forth the three branches of government in its first three articles (i.e., Article I provides for the Congress; Article II provides for the President; and, Article III provides for the Judiciary).

What are the main articles of the California Constitution? The state Constitution sets forth the three branches of government in its Articles IV (Legislature), V (Governor) and VI (Judiciary). California’s Constitution sets forth important personal rights in Article I of its constitution, the provisions of direct democracy (initiative, referendum and recall) are found in Article II, and establishment of the state’s governance system is contained in Article III.

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