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Constitution of Virginia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1830, by George Catlin
The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1830, by George Catlin

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the document that defines and limits the powers of the state government and the basic rights of the citizens of the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia. Like all other state constitutions, it is supreme over Virginia's laws and acts of government, though it may be superseded by the United States Constitution and U.S. federal law as per the Supremacy Clause.

The original Virginia Constitution of 1776 was enacted in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence by the first thirteen states of the United States of America. Virginia was an early state to adopt its own Constitution on June 29, 1776, and the document was widely influential both in the United States and abroad.[1] In addition to frequent amendments, there have been six major subsequent revisions of the constitution (by Conventions for the constitutions of 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, 1902, and by commission for 1971 amendments). These new constitutions have been part of, and in reaction to, periods of major regional or social upheaval in Virginia. For instance, the 1902 constitution included provisions to disfranchise African Americans, who in 1900 made up nearly 36% of the state's population.[2] They did not regain suffrage until after passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.

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  • ✪ Constitutional Compromises: Crash Course Government and Politics #5
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  • ✪ Why West Virginia left Virginia | State Rivalries
  • ✪ Liberty's Kids 140 - We the People


Hi, I'm Craig, and this is Crash Course Government and Politics, and today we're going to talk about the single most important document in America, one that we'll be talking about a lot over next few months. No, I'm not talking about O Magazine - it's the United States Constitution, and what we're really gonna focus on is how it got made and how it became the foundation of our government. Those of you who watched the U.S. History series with John Green probably remember that the government set up by the Constitution is actually the second attempt at an American government. Also, as pointed out in the comments, you probably noticed that I am not John Green. The first American government, which was in place during the Revolutionary War and for almost 10 years afterwards, was the Articles of Confederation. Like many first attempts, the Articles government had some good ideas and it meant well, but it was poorly executed. Give it a break, it never did this before! So when delegates gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles, they ended up scrapping the whole thing and creating a new Constitution. It's probably not because they didn't know what revise meant. So, the delegates from the various states each had their own agendas at the Constitutional Convention, and that made it difficult for them to agree on what the new government should look like. In order to hammer out a Constitution, they had to do something you don't see very much of in government these days - compromise. Oh, let's compromise, I'm sorry, eagle, I didn't mean... Before we get into what those compromises were, it's kinda necessary to look at what was so bad about the Articles government in the first place. The main thing was it really couldn't govern. There was no executive branch or president and no judiciary to settle disputes. It was basically just a congress where each state was equally represented and they all pretty much had veto power and could sink legislation they didn't like. All decisions were collective, which meant that very few decisions were actually made, because it's really hard to get 13 people to agree on something that will be in the interest of all 13. I can barely agree with Stan on anything. Right, Stan? He said wrong. Most important, the Articles government had no power to levy taxes, which meant that if it needed any money to do, well, anything, it had to ask for the money from the states, which were free to say, "No, I don't think we'll be giving you any money today. ...or tomorrow. Or ever." As I remember from my college years - and I don't remember much - living without money is awful. Without money, it's pretty much impossible for a government to do anything, except buy ramen noodles. The Articles government was able to accomplish one notable thing, though. One of the big issues it had to deal with was Americans moving out West, which in the 1770's and 80's meant to places like Ohio and Indiana that weren't states yet. The government managed to set up rules for these settlements in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which set up a system for eventual statehood. But most importantly, it forbade slavery in these territories, which, as students of American history know, was kind of a big deal. You wouldn't know that, you're not a student of American history. You're a symbol of America, bird! I'm not gonna punch you. Other than that, though, the Articles government was a flop. And the very thing that made it so ineffective threatened to screw up any attempts at new government, too. This was the issue of competing interests between different states, more specifically the states with large populations and the smaller states. Basically, a state with a large population like, say, Virginia, had different needs than a state with a small population, like Delaware. More importantly, large states might stand to benefit more from any government spending. When the delegates decided to make a new congress, these large population states wanted the number of representatives to that congress to be proportional to the states' populations, which would mean that the larger states would have more representatives than the smaller ones. This idea, a large congress made up of many delegates, was called The Virginia Plan. Because it was put forward by the delegates from Wisconsin. Just kidding...Virginia. The delegates from small New Jersey put forward a plan that would have a congress where each state would send an equal number of representatives. In other words, something that looked a lot like the Articles government. This New Jersey Plan would prevent smaller states from being dominated by the larger states, and also ensure that the large states wouldn't be able to vote themselves a bigger share of government spending. These two opposing interests threatened to scuttle the whole new government thing until Roger Sherman from Connecticut proposed The Great Compromise, that gave us bicameral legislature that we talked about in episode two, and we've all come to know and love, sometimes. So The Great Compromise meant that we would have a two-house legislature, but this wasn't the only issue related to how the seats in Congress would be apportioned. The membership in the House would be based on the state's population, but at the time there was an issue about how to count that population. The issue was slavery. More specifically, how to count slaves as part of a state's population. Let's go to the Thought Bubble. The states with large slave populations, like South Carolina and Virginia, had a pretty big interest in counting these slaves for the purposes of determining representation. And the states with few slaves didn't want them counted at all. Because this would mean that the white non-slave people in those states with lots of slaves would effectively be better represented than the white non-slave people in the states with few slaves. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention solved this problem with another compromise that was decidedly less great. Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution includes the following clause: "Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons." If you're looking for the word "slave," you won't find it. They're the ones described by the phrase, "three-fifths of all other persons." This is the notorious Three-Fifths Compromise. What it means is that in order to determine how many representatives a state has, you count the number of free people in the state, including indentured servants, and add to that number three-fifths of the number of non-free persons, otherwise known as slaves. So in terms of counting, each slave was worth three-fifths of each free person. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Anyway, this meant that states with large populations of slaves would be disproportionately represented in Congress, but not quite so badly that most northern states with small numbers of slaves wouldn't vote for the Constitution. What this also did was enshrine the idea that slaves, who were mostly black, were worth less than free people, who were mostly white. And it embedded slavery into the Constitution. So before this constitution of compromise could go into effect, it had to be ratified by at least 9 of the 13 states. So each state had a special convention where delegates could vote on whether or not to adopt the new constitution. These conventions were more open to the public than the Constitutional Convention itself, and the ratification process is the reason why some people say the Constitution is based on the will of the people. But not everybody wanted the Constitution, and they needed convincing. This is where things get a little confusing. Did you want the Constitution? Did ya? In 1787, public opinion about the Constitution was pretty evenly divided. Those who wanted the Constitution were called Federalists, largely because of the Federalist Papers, a series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. They wrote the Federalist Papers to convince voters in New York to ratify the Constitution. And since New York did eventually ratify the document, I guess they worked. But we should listen to both sides of the the Clone Zone. So joining us in the Clone Zone today will be Federalist Clone and Anti-Federalist Clone. Let's hear from Federalist Clone first. Feddy? Can I call you Feddy? No. The Federalists were the incredibly intelligent Americans who thought that a strong central government would benefit the country as a whole. They tended to come from cities, and often they represented commercial classes, especially wealthy people, who had lent money to the government during the Revolution. They liked the new Constitution because they felt that a strong national government would pay its debts, and this was good for business. They also tended to want stronger ties with England, again because England was a good trading partner. Given the raging success of the Articles government, it's pretty clear that the Federalists were right. Okay, now let's hear from Anti-Federalist Clone. How do you respond, Anti? I'm not your aunt! Sure, Federalists were right to believe in tyranny. Anti-Federalists were right to be skeptical of a large government that would trample on our individual liberties. They didn't want a big government that would tax them to death, and possibly take away their slaves. In general, Anti-Federalists felt that states would be the best protectors of people's rights and liberties, because being smaller, they would be more responsive to people's needs. Okay? The Anti-Federalists published pamphlets and articles, too. But we weren't quite as organized, so we didn't have a coherent set of Anti-Federalist Papers to push on government students. Okay, okay, you seem really mad about this. I am. But you eventually lost the debate. I did. Huzzah! How come he got to shoot fireworks-- --I didn't know he was gonna-- --I wanna shoot fireworks-- Okay? I'm sorry, I'm sorry--next time. You can have fireworks. So the Federalist position won out and the Constitution was ratified. And that's the government that Americans have been living under ever since. Hooray! Because the Constitution was passed, we tend to think that everyone loved it. But it wasn't nearly as clear-cut as hindsight makes it appear. Eventually, the Federalists had to offer another compromise, promising a Bill of Rights in the first ten amendments. This isn't called one of the constitutional compromises because it happened outside of the Convention, but it was yet another example of how different interests had to give a little in order to get a Constitution passed. It's very important to remember that compromise, the idea of balancing interests and giving a little to get a lot, is embedded in the Constitution. While today it seems like a political dirty word, compromise is the basis of the American government itself. Thanks for watching. I'll seeya next week. Well, I'll compromise. Seeya in a week and a half. Let's face it; Stan's probably not going to get this done in time anyway. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course U.S. Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports non-profits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course was made by all of these nice people at the Chad and Stacy Emigholz Studio, in tropical Indianapolis. Thanks for watching. I'm going to the beach.


Historic constitutions

George Mason, one of the principal architects of the 1776 Virginia Constitution
George Mason, one of the principal architects of the 1776 Virginia Constitution


The preparation of the first Virginia Constitution began in early 1776, in the midst of the early events of the American Revolution. Among those who drafted the 1776 Constitution were George Mason and James Madison. Thomas Jefferson was Virginia's representative to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia at the time, and his drafts of the Virginia constitution arrived too late to be incorporated into the final document.[3] James Madison's work on the Virginia Constitution helped him develop the ideas and skills that he would later use as one of the main architects of the United States Constitution.[4]

The 1776 Constitution declared the dissolution of the rule of Great Britain over Virginia and accused England's King George III of establishing a "detestable and insupportable tyranny". It also established separation of governmental powers, with the creation of the bicameral Virginia General Assembly as the legislative body of the state and the Governor of Virginia as the "chief magistrate" or executive. The accompanying Virginia Declaration of Rights, written primarily by Mason, focuses on guarantees of basic human rights and freedoms and the fundamental purpose of government. It, in turn, served as a model for a number of other historic documents, including the United States Bill of Rights.

Critically, the 1776 Constitution limited the right to vote primarily to property owners and men of wealth. This effectively concentrated power in the hands of the landowners and aristocracy of Southeastern Virginia.[1] Dissatisfaction with this power structure would come to dominate Virginia's constitutional debate for almost a century.[5]

1830 Virginia Constitution, page one
1830 Virginia Constitution, page one


By the 1820s, Virginia was one of only two states that limited voting to landowners. In addition, because representation was by county rather than population, the residents of increasingly populous Western Virginia (the area that would become West Virginia in 1863) had grown discontented at their limited representation in the legislature.[5] Pressure increased until a constitutional convention was convened in 1829–1830. This convention became largely a contest between eastern Virginia planters of the slaveholding elite and the less affluent yeomen farmers of Western Virginia. Issues of representation and suffrage dominated the debate.[6] Delegates to the convention included such prominent Virginians as James Madison, James Monroe, John Tyler, and John Marshall.[7]

The convention ultimately compromised by loosening suffrage requirements. It also reduced the number of delegates and senators to the Virginia General Assembly. The resulting constitution was ratified by a popular majority, though most of the voters in the western part of the state ended up voting against it.[8] Thus, the underlying intrastate tensions remained, and would have to be addressed later.


As of the 1840 census, the majority of the white residents of the state lived in western Virginia, but they were underrepresented in the legislature because of the continued property requirement for voting; not all held sufficient property to vote. This compounded their dissatisfaction with the apportionment scheme adopted in 1830, which was based on counties rather than population, thus giving disproportionate power to the fewer, but propertied whites who lived in the eastern part of the state and kept a grip on the legislature. As the state legislature also elected the governor and the United States senators, Western Virginians felt they had little influence on state leadership. Their attempts to win electoral reform in the Virginia legislature were defeated each time. Some began to openly discuss the abolition of slavery or secession from the state.[9] Ultimately, the eastern planters could not continue to ignore their discontent, and a new constitutional convention was called to resolve the continuing tensions.

The most significant change adopted in the 1851 Constitution was elimination of the property requirement for voting, resulting in extension of the suffrage to all white males of voting age. The 1851 Constitution established popular election for the governor, the newly created office of lieutenant governor, and all Virginia judges, rather than the election of the top two state officers by the legislature, or political appointment for judges. Because of these changes, the 1851 Virginia Constitution became known as the "Reform Constitution".[10]

Portrait of Francis H. Pierpont, governor and driving force behind the 1864 Constitution
Portrait of Francis H. Pierpont, governor and driving force behind the 1864 Constitution


When in 1861, the Virginia legislature voted for secession in the events leading up to the American Civil War, all of the western and several of the northern counties dissented They set up a separate government with Francis H. Pierpont as governor. During the Civil War, this separate or "restored" government approved the creation of West Virginia as a separate state (which was admitted to the Union in 1863) and in 1864 it approved a new Constitution.[11] The constitution was the product of a divided state and government; it was the first since the original 1776 Constitution to be adopted by the legislature without a popular vote.

The 1864 Constitution abolished slavery in Virginia, disfranchised men who had served in the Confederate government, recognized the creation of the State of West Virginia, and adjusted the number and terms of office of the members of the Virginia Assembly.[12]

The foreword to the current Virginia Constitution does not include the 1864 Constitution in its list of previous constitutions. It notes that the 1864 Constitution was drafted under wartime conditions and was of uncertain legal status.[13]

John C. Underwood. He so dominated the 1867–1868 constitutional convention that the resulting document became known as the "Underwood Constitution".
John C. Underwood. He so dominated the 1867–1868 constitutional convention that the resulting document became known as the "Underwood Constitution".


After the end of the Civil War, Virginia came briefly under military rule during Reconstruction, with the district commanded by John M. Schofield. Pursuant to federal Reconstruction legislation, Schofield called for a new constitutional convention to meet in Richmond from December 1867 to April 1868. In protest of freedmen's suffrage, many of Virginia's conservative whites refused to participate in voting for delegates.[14] As a result, Republicans led by Judge John Curtiss Underwood dominated the convention. Opponents called the result the "Underwood Constitution"[15] or the "Negro Constitution", as it gave freedmen suffrage.[14]

Significant provisions included expanding the suffrage to all male citizens over the age of 21, which included freedmen; establishing a state public school system for the first time, with mandatory funding and attendance; and providing for judges to be elected by the General Assembly rather than by popular vote.[16] Controversy over clauses that continued the temporary disfranchisement of former Confederate government members delayed the adoption of the Constitution. An eventual compromise provided for separate voting on the disfranchisement clauses and the rest of the Constitution; the former failed to win approval.[12] The remainder of the Underwood Constitution was ratified by a popular vote of 210,585 to 9,136, and went into effect in 1870.


In the late nineteenth century, white Democrats regained power in state legislatures across the South. They passed Jim Crow laws establishing racial segregation in public facilities and restricting the lives of blacks. Beginning with Mississippi in 1890, legislatures began to ratify new constitutions, amendments or electoral laws that disfranchised African-American voters, devising means such as poll taxes, literacy tests and residential requirements that passed Supreme Court review but worked against poor blacks and many poor whites. By the turn of the 20th century, six Southern states had essentially eliminated the black vote, and pressure mounted among whites in Virginia to do the same, ostensibly as a way to stop electoral fraud and corruption.[17]

The 1901 constitutional convention met in this climate. Members were focused on restricting black voting rights without violating the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or disfranchising poor whites.[18] Led by the future Senator Carter Glass, the convention created requirements that all prospective voters had to pay poll taxes or pass a literacy test administered by white registrars. An exemption was granted, in a kind of grandfather clause, for military veterans and sons of veterans, who were virtually all white. The changes effectively disfranchised black voters, though many illiterate whites were also unable to meet the new requirements. In 1900 blacks made up nearly 36 percent of the population.[2] In succeeding elections, the Virginia electorate was reduced by nearly half as a result of the changes.[19] When adjusted for the Nineteenth Amendment, voter turnout would not return to 1900 levels until 1952 within a statewide population almost twice the size. The small electorate was key to maintaining the dominant Democratic Organization in power for sixty years.[20]

Other significant provisions of the 1902 Constitution imposed racial segregation in public schools (which already existed on a de facto basis) and abolished the county court system. The Constitution provided for the creation of the State Corporation Commission to regulate the growing power of the railroads.[21] Because of concern over African-American opposition, the convention did not honor its pledge to have the proposed constitution put to popular vote.[22] Like the 1864 Constitution by the Loyalist government during the Civil War, the legislature adopted the 1902 Constitution without ratification by the electorate. It was in effect far longer than any previous Virginia constitution.[23]

Current constitution (1971)

Mills Godwin (1974)
Mills Godwin (1974)

As a result of the Civil Rights Movement challenging the restrictions and discrimination practiced against blacks exercise of constitutional rights, a series of US Supreme Court cases, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the 24th Amendment, and federal legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had overturned the most controversial aspects of the 1902 Constitution – the provisions restricting voting by African Americans and mandating school segregation. Combined with the election of Governor Mills Godwin in 1965, there was impetus for governmental change. Godwin strongly advocated the loosening of the strict constitutional restrictions on state-issued bonds and borrowing, and used his power and popularity to push for a new constitution. In 1968 a joint resolution of the Virginia General Assembly approved a new commission, chaired by former Governor Albertis Harrison, to revise the constitution.[24]

The Commission on Constitutional Revision presented its report and recommendations to Governor Godwin and the General Assembly in January 1969, and continued to work with them to draft a final consensus version.[25] The proposed Constitution was overwhelmingly approved by the voters of Virginia (who by then included African-American men and women, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s) and took effect on July 1, 1971.

Since 1971, additional amendments have been passed by the General Assembly and approved by the voter to conform to provisions in the U.S. Constitution, rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and Congressional statute. The voting age has been reduced to eighteen, voting residency requirements have been removed, and voter registration conforms to the Motor Voter Act. Additionally, the Virginia Constitution now provides for a General Assembly session following a governor’s veto, and the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game is guaranteed.[26] In 2006, Virginians passed an amendment limiting marriage to “unions between one man and one woman”.[27] That has since been overturned by Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).

The current Constitution of Virginia consists of twelve Articles:[28]

Article I – Bill of Rights

Article I contains the entire original Virginia Declaration of Rights from the 1776 Constitution. Several of the sections have been expanded to incorporate concepts from the United States Bill of Rights, including the right to due process, the prohibition against double jeopardy, and the right to bear arms. Like the Federal Constitution, the Virginia Bill of Rights, in §17, states that the listing of certain rights is not to be construed to exclude other rights held by the people.

In 1997, a Victims' Rights Amendment was added to the Virginia Bill of Rights as §8-A. In Nobrega v. Commonwealth, the only case so far to interpret this amendment, the Virginia Supreme Court used the Victims’s Rights Amendment to support its ruling that an alleged rape victim could not be compelled to submit to a psychiatric evaluation.[29]

On November 7, 2006, Virginia voters ratified an amendment, previously approved by the General Assembly, prohibiting same-sex marriage, to be added to the Bill of Rights.[30] This amendment also prohibits the recognition of any "union, partnership, or other legal status" between unmarried people that intends to approximate marriage or which confers the "rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage." The Virginia Attorney General issued an opinion stating that the amendment does not change the legal status of documents such as contracts, wills, or Advanced Medical Directives between unmarried people.[31] The amendment was declared to be in violation the United States Constitution by a U.S. District Court Judge on February 13, 2014.[32] (In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the failure to provide for same-sex marriage by any U.S. state had the effect of violating the rights of homosexuals to equal protection of law required under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

Article II – Franchise and Officers

The second Article of the Constitution sets out the procedures and mechanisms for voting, elections and holding office. Pursuant to Section 1, any Virginia resident over age 18 may vote in state elections; the voting age was reduced from 21 by a 1972 amendment to the federal constitution.[33] However, § 1 denies the vote to people who have been determined to be mentally incompetent or anyone convicted of a felony. Disfranchising convicted felons has been found to be consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.[34] The General Assembly, pursuant to §4, is given wide power to regulate the time place and manner of all elections.[35]

Section Five establishes that the only qualifications to hold office in Virginia are that a person must have been a Virginia resident for at least one year and eligible to vote. Any statute or rule requiring other qualifications is constitutionally invalid under this section.[36] But, the General Assembly can impose local residency requirements for election to local governmental bodies or for election to the Assembly in representation of particular districts.

Article III – Division of Powers

Article III has one section, confirming the principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Unlike the U.S. federal Constitution, the Virginia Constitution explicitly provides that no branch may exercise powers that properly belong to the others.[37] Separation between the branches of government is also listed as a right of the people in §5 of Article I.

Article IV – Legislature

Article IV establishes the basic structure and authority of the Virginia legislature. The legislative power of the state is vested in the Virginia General Assembly, which consists of the Virginia Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates. §17 of Article IV gives the legislature the power to impeach members of the executive and judicial branches.

The original §14 of Article IV forbade the incorporation of churches, though the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision, in its 1969 report, had recognized that the prohibition was probably invalid. The federal district court for the Western District of Virginia ruled in April 2002 that this provision of the Virginia Constitution was in fact unconstitutional, because it violates the federal constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.[38] The court found that it is unconstitutional to deny a church the option to incorporate under state law when other groups can incorporate.[39] An amendment striking the ban on church incorporation was approved by Virginia voters in November 2006.

Article V – Executive

The fifth Article similarly defines the structure and powers of the executive branch. The Governor of Virginia is invested as the chief executive, though §1 of Article V, provides that the governor may not run for successive terms. The offices of lieutenant governor and attorney general are established as supporting elected constitutional positions.

The constitutional powers of the governor include the ability to sign legislation, veto bills (which veto may then be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the assembly), and issue pardons.

Article VI – Judiciary

Article VI vests judicial power in the Supreme Court of Virginia, along with the subordinate courts created by the General Assembly. Judges are appointed by a majority vote in the General Assembly to terms of 12 years for Supreme Court Justices and 8 years for other judges. The Supreme Court, pursuant to §5, has the authority to make rules governing the practice of law and procedures in the courts of the commonwealth (see rules), and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is established as the administrative head of the Virginia judicial system.

Article VII – Local Government

Article VII of the Constitution sets up the basic framework for the structure and function of local government in Virginia. Local government may be established at the town (population over 1000), city (population over 5000), county or regional government level. Article VII gives the General Assembly the power to create general laws for the organization and governing of these political subdivisions, except that regional governments cannot be created without the consent of the majority of the voters who vote on the issue in the region.

Section 4 establishes the constitutional offices of treasurer, sheriff, Commonwealth's Attorney, clerk of court and Commissioner of the Revenue to be elected within each city and county in Virginia.

Article VIII – Education

A compulsory and free primary and secondary public education for every Virginia child is the focus of Article VIII. The General Assembly is empowered to determine the funding for the educational system and apportion the cost between state and local government. A state Board of Education is established to create school divisions and effectuate the overall educational policies. Supervision of the individual schools is delegated to local school boards, provided for in §7.

Article IX – Corporations

The primary purpose of Article IX is to create the Virginia State Corporation Commission, which is charged with administering the laws that regulate corporations. The State Corporation Commission also issues charters for Virginia corporations and licenses to do business for “foreign” (non-Virginia) corporations. Section 5 of Article IX prohibits such foreign corporations from doing anything in Virginia that a Virginia corporation could not do.

Article X – Taxation and Finance

Article X establishes the basic structure for taxation of personal property in Virginia. Pursuant to this Article, all non-exempt real and personal property is subject to taxation at its fair market value. Section 6 sets out a lengthy list of exempt property, which includes church property, cemeteries, and non-profit school property.

Significant additions to Article X include §7, a budget amendment, which became effective in 1986, and §7-A, which establishes the "Lottery Proceeds Fund", requiring that all proceeds from the lottery be set aside for educational purposes.

Article XI – Conservation

Article XI states that it is the general policy of the Commonwealth to preserve, protect and conserve the state’s natural and historic resources. The General Assembly is permitted to further these policies by entering into public-private partnerships or partnerships with federal agencies.

A 2001 amendment added §4, which establishes hunting and fishing as constitutional rights of Virginians, though the legislature may enact appropriate regulations and restrictions on these rights.

Article XII – Future changes

The last Article creates the mechanism for future changes to the Constitution. Any amendment to the Constitution must first be passed by a majority in each of the two legislative houses. The proposed amendment must then be held over for consideration by the succeeding elected legislature, where it must again be passed by a majority in each house. The amendment then goes on the general ballot and becomes enacted into the Constitution if approved by a majority of the voters.

Alternatively, a two-thirds majority of both Virginia houses may call for the creation of a constitutional convention. Any revisions or amendments proposed by the constitutional convention are presented to the citizens of Virginia and become law upon approval by a majority of voters.

There is a perennial discussion over Virginia’s unique Constitutional status restricting its governor to one consecutive term, and its distinctive method of selecting both trial and appellate judges by state legislature, shared only with South Carolina.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b Lieberman, Jethro (1987). The Enduring Constitution: A Bicentennial Perspective. West Publishing Co. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-314-32025-4.
  2. ^ a b Historical Census Browser, 1900 Federal Census, University of Virginia Archived August 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 15, 2008
  3. ^ "ONE OF THE MOST INTRIGUING MIGHT-HAVE-BEENS IN AMERICAN HISTORY". Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Stephan A. (May 2000). "George Mason : Forgotten Founder, He Conceived the Bill of Rights". Smithsonian (31.2): 142.
  5. ^ a b Dabney, Virginius (1971). Virginia, The New Dominion. University Press of Virginia. pp. 213–216. ISBN 978-0-8139-1015-4.
  6. ^ "1830 Virginia Constitution". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  7. ^ "The Story of Virginia; Becoming Southerners". Virginia Historical Society. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  8. ^ Dabney (1971), p. 218
  9. ^ Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy, Jefferson to Lincoln. W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 587–588. ISBN 978-0-393-05820-8.
  10. ^ "Constitution of 1851". West Virginia Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  11. ^ Salmon (1994), pp.45–47.
  12. ^ a b Lalor, John Joseph, ed. (1881). Cyclopædia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States, Vol. 3. Chicago, Rand, McNally & company. p. 1077.
  13. ^ "Constitution of Virginia; Foreword" (PDF). Virginia General Assembly. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 13, 2006. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
  14. ^ a b Morgan, Lynda (1992). Emancipation in Virginia's Tobacco Belt, 1850–1870. University of Georgia Press. pp. 160–166. ISBN 978-0-8203-1415-0.
  15. ^ Salmon (1994), p. 52.
  16. ^ "Views of a Changing Landscape; Historical Background for Sudley Post Office". University of Maryland. Retrieved September 14, 2006.
  17. ^ Moger, Allen (1968). Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, 1870–1925. University Press of Virginia. pp. 181–183. ISBN 978-0-8139-0182-4. OCLC 435376.
  18. ^ "Virginia's Constitutional Convention of 1901–1902". Virginia Historical Society. Archived from the original on October 2, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2006.
  19. ^ Dabney (1971), pp. 436–437
  20. ^ Heinemann, Ronald L.,, Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: a history of Virginia 1607-2007. University of Virginia Press 2007 ISBN 978-0-8139-2609-4, p. 277-278
  21. ^ Maddex, Robert (1998). State Constitutions of the United States. Congressional Quarterly, Inc. p. 406. ISBN 978-1-56802-373-1.
  22. ^ Moger (1968), pp.192–200.
  23. ^ Dabney (1971), pp. 439–440.
  24. ^ Salmon (1994), pp.78–79.
  25. ^ "Register of the Papers of A.E.Dick Howard for the Virginia Commission for Constitutional Revision; 1969–71". University of Virginia. Archived from the original on August 29, 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2006.
  26. ^ Dinan, John. The Virginia State Constitution: a reference guide. Praeger (2006) ISBN 0-313-33208-8 p.24, 216.
  27. ^ Peaslee, Liliokanaio, and Swartz, Nicholas J., “Virginia Government: Institutions and Policy” (2014) SAGE Congressional Quarterly Press, ISBN 978-1-4522-0589-2, p. 19
  28. ^ Article and section references are to the articles and sections of the "Constitution of Virginia (1971, as amended)". Commonwealth of Virginia. Archived from the original on January 2, 2012.
  29. ^ Nobrega v. Commonwealth, 271 Va 508 (2006).
  30. ^ Virginia Code Commission (2008). Code of Virginia, 1950: Constitutions. Matthew Bender & Company. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-4224-5072-7.
  31. ^ Op. Atty. Gen., Opinion No. 06-003 (September 14, 2006), 2006 WL 4286442
  32. ^ Baratko, Trevor (February 13, 2014). "Virginia's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, federal judge says". Loudon Times. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  33. ^ Virginia Code Commission (2008), p. 127.
  34. ^ Perry v. Beamer, 933 F. Supp. 556 (1996).
  35. ^ Moore v. Pullem, 150 S.E. 415 (1928).
  36. ^ Gwaltmey v. Lyons, 166 Va. 872 (1914).
  37. ^ Maddex (1998), p. 407.
  38. ^ Falwell v. Miller, 203 F. Supp.2d 624 (W.D. Va. 2002).
  39. ^ "Proposed Constitutional Amendment; Ballot Question Number 2" (PDF). Virginia State Board of Elections. Retrieved October 31, 2006.
  40. ^ Dinan (2006). p. 24
  • Salmon, Emily; Edward D.C. Campbell, Jr., eds. (1994). The Hornbook of Virginia History. The Library of Virginia. ISBN 978-0-88490-177-8.

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