Main concern components that have shaped the Texas Constitution
Texas constitutional history is majorly due to its history and society over the years. In the Texas constitution before and after its independence, its government system, duties and values are expressed. Prior to the achievement of independence by Texas, it was ruled by the 1824 Mexican Constitution and was combined as a single state with Coahuila with its constitution established in 1827 (Calvert, 122). Texas became a republic after declaring independence in 1836 and implemented a constitution that was largely a copy of the US Constitution, but with a very short charter. Some of the notable features of this constitution was the idea of separation of powers and checks and balances. Texas later on joined the US as the twenty-eighth, therefore necessitating a new constitution that was adopted in 1845. In 1861, during the beginning of the Civil War, Texas seceded from the US and a new conservative constitution was drafted to the Secession Convention (Calvert, 134).
After the Civil war, another constitution was adopted in 1866 providing for the laws and constitutional procedures necessary for Texas to rejoin the union for instance, illegalization of secession and abolition of slavery. However, this constitution was short lived because of the reconstruction constitution that was adopted in 1869 after the Radical Republicans who imposed military governance and took over the US Congress invalidated the previous constitution. Texas was forced to draft a constitution in conformity with the Reconstruction Acts as a pre-condition to rejoining the Union. Eventually, the Democrats regained control and a new constitution of 1876 was drafted for Texas. It was more lengthy, phrased in broader terms and generally detailed as compared to all previous constitutions (Bacon, 40).
Therefore, some of the main aspects that influenced the historical changes and development of the constitution were the Mexican and Spanish influence concerning judicial procedures, debtor reliefs, adoption, marital relations, and land law among others. Influences of the American Reconstruction, Frontier radicalism, and Jacksonian agrarianism also influenced the drafting of the constitution of Texas (Morison, 172). However, it is important to note that all seven constitutions were aimed at rectifying the perceived deficiencies and loopholes of the previous political structures and challenges Texas faced. More notably, each constitution retained specific elements of the predecessor constitution that cumulatively led to a constitutional tradition that makes the current constitution unique and effective.
The 1876 constitution is still the effective constitution in Texas today and remains the foundation of the its political and government structure (Morison, 176). It outlines the organization and powers of the government and places great emphasis on the bill of rights. Further, this constitution grants excessive and massive powers to the government, however, they are restricted under the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances clearly spelt out in the constitution. Governmental authority is divided into the legislature, judiciary, and executive and the constitution limits the exercise of powers by a single individual in more than one branch of government. The legislative branch is mandated to make laws however; the constitution also provided substantive limitations to the powers it possesses to ensure that power is not misused (Bacon, 78). It also established the court system and the executive branch of the government with checks and balances as well.
The constitution also provides regulations for the creation of counties and recognizes them as legal subunits of the political structure in Texas. It also grants specific limited powers to the counties and cities mainly for effective administrative purposes. In addition, just like any other State of the Union, Texas state laws must be in conformity with the constitution of the United States of America (Whittington, 100). The US constitution grants reserved powers to State governments such as elections and establishment of local governments. It also grants delegated and concurrent powers such as collection of taxes and establishment of courts. However, under the federal supremacy law provided in the US constitution, federal laws usually prevail in circumstances where federal and state laws conflict.
Bacon, Cheryl M. From Spain to Edgewood V. Kirby: A Legal and Historical Analysis of the Development of the Education Article of the Texas Constitution and Its Amendments. 1991, pp. 34-120
Calvert, Robert A, et al. The History of Texas. Wiley, 2013, pp. 120-151
Morison, Samuel E. The Oxford History of the American People. Oxford UP, 1965, pp. 167-178
Whittington, Keith E. Law and Politics: Critical Concepts in Political Science : Jurisprudence and Constitutionalism. Routledge, 2013, pp. 80-120