Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Ohio Constitution

Ohio Constitution

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ohio Constitution'
Start a new discussion about 'Ohio Constitution'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Ohio Constitution is the basic governing document of the State of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, which in 1803 became the 17th state to join the United States of America. Ohio has had two constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

s since statehood
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 was granted.

Ohio was created from the easternmost portion of the Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio...

. In 1787, the Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
The Congress of the Confederation or the United States in Congress Assembled was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. It comprised delegates appointed by the legislatures of the states. It was the immediate successor to the Second...

 of the United States passed the Northwest Ordinance
Northwest Ordinance
The Northwest Ordinance was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States, passed July 13, 1787...

, establishing a territorial government and providing that "[t]here shall be formed in the said territory, not less than three nor more than five states." The Ordinance prohibited slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 and provided for freedom of worship, the right of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

and trial by jury
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

, and the right to make bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

 except for capital offenses. Ohio courts have noted that the Northwest Ordinance "was ever considered as the fundamental law of the territory." Ludlow's Heirs v. Johnston (1828), 3 Ohio 553, 555; State v. Bob Manashian Painting (2002), 121 Ohio Misc.2d 99, 103.

1802 Constitution


The Ohio territory's population grew steadily in the 1790s and early 19th century. Congress passed an enabling bill to establish a new state, which President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 signed into law on April 30, 1802. A state constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

 was held in November 1802 in Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe is a city in and the county seat of Ross County, Ohio, United States.Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio and is located in southern Ohio along the Scioto River. The name comes from the Shawnee name Chalahgawtha, meaning "principal town", as it was a major settlement of...

, and it adopted what became known as the 1802 Constitution. See Ohio Constitutional Convention (1802)
Ohio Constitutional Convention (1802)
The Enabling Act of 1802 was passed on April 30, 1802 by the Seventh Congress of the United States. This act authorized the residents of the eastern portion of the Northwest Territory to form the state of Ohio and join the U.S. on an equal footing with the other states...

. Largely due to the perception that territorial governor Arthur St. Clair
Arthur St. Clair
Arthur St. Clair was an American soldier and politician. Born in Scotland, he served in the British Army during the French and Indian War before settling in Pennsylvania, where he held local office...

 had ruled heavy-handedly, the constitution provided for a "weak" governor and judiciary, and vested virtually all power in a bicameral legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

, known as the General Assembly
Ohio General Assembly
The Ohio General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Ohio. It consists of the 99-member Ohio House of Representatives and the 33-member Ohio Senate...

. Congress simply recognized the existence of the "state of Ohio" rather than passing a separate resolution declaring Ohio a state as it had done and would do with other new states. On February 19, 1803, President Jefferson signed the bill into law. It provided that Ohio "had become one of the United States of America," and that Federal law "shall have the same force and effect within the said State of Ohio, as elsewhere within the United States."

The first General Assembly first met in Chillicothe, the new state capital, on March 1, 1803. This has come to be considered the date of Ohio statehood.

1851 Constitution


By law, Ohio voters are asked every twenty years whether a new constitutional convention should be called. In the early decades of statehood, it became clear that the General Assembly was disproportionately powerful as compared to the executive and judicial branches. Much of state business was conducted through private bills, and partisan squabbling greatly reduced the ability of state government to do its work. The legislature widely came to be perceived as corrupt, subsidizing private companies and granting special privileges in corporate charters. State debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

 also exploded between 1825 and 1840. A new constitution, greatly redressing the checks and balances of power, was drafted by a convention in 1850-51, as directed by the voters, and subsequently adopted in a statewide referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 on June 17, 1851, taking effect on September 1 of that year. This is the same constitution under which the state of Ohio operates. The later "constitutions" were viewed as such, but in reality were large scale revisions.

A constitutional convention in 1873, chaired by future Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 Morrison R. Waite, proposed a new constitution that would have provided for annual sessions of the legislature, a veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 for the governor which could be overridden by a three-fifths vote of each house, establishment of state circuit court
Circuit court
Circuit court is the name of court systems in several common law jurisdictions.-History:King Henry II instituted the custom of having judges ride around the countryside each year to hear appeals, rather than forcing everyone to bring their appeals to London...

s, eligibility of women for election to school boards, and restrictions on municipal debt. It was soundly defeated by the voters in August 1873.

1912 Constitution


In the Progressive Era
Progressive Era
The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of social activism and political reform that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. One main goal of the Progressive movement was purification of government, as Progressives tried to eliminate corruption by exposing and undercutting political...

, pent-up demand for reform led to the convening of another constitutional convention in 1912. The delegates were generally progressive in their outlook, and noted Ohio historian George W. Knepper wrote, "It was perhaps the ablest group ever assembled in Ohio to consider state affairs." Several national leaders addressed the convention, including President William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

, an Ohioan; former president (and Bull Moose Party candidate) Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

; three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

; California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

's progressive governor Hiram Johnson
Hiram Johnson
Hiram Warren Johnson was a leading American progressive and later isolationist politician from California; he served as the 23rd Governor from 1911 to 1917, and as a United States Senator from 1917 to 1945.-Early life:...

; and Ohio's own reform-minded governor, Judson Harmon
Judson Harmon
Judson Harmon was a Democratic politician from Ohio. He served as United States Attorney General under President Grover Cleveland and later served as the 45th Governor of Ohio....

.

Recalling how the 1873 convention's work had all been for naught, the 1912 convention drafted and submitted to the voters a series of amendments to the 1851 Constitution. The amendments expanded the state's bill of rights, provided for voter-led initiative and referendum, established civil service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 protections, and granted the governor a line-item veto
Line-item veto
In United States government, the line-item veto, or partial veto, is the power of an executive authority to nullify or cancel specific provisions of a bill, usually a budget appropriations bill, without vetoing the entire legislative package...

 in appropriation bills. Other amendments empowered the legislature to fix the hours of labor, establish a minimum wage
Minimum wage
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about...

 and a workers compensation system, and address a number of other progressive measures. A home rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

 amendment was proposed for Ohio cities with populations over 5,000.

On September 3, 1912, despite strong conservative opposition, voters adopted 33 of the 41 proposed amendments. It was so sweeping a change to the 1851 Constitution that most legal scholars consider it to have become a new "1912 Constitution." Among the eight losing proposed amendments were female suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

, the use of voting machine
Voting machine
Voting machines are the total combination of mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic equipment , that is used to define ballots; to cast and count votes; to report or display election results; and to maintain and produce any audit trail information...

s, the regulation of outdoor advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 and abolition of the death penalty. Voters also rejected a proposal to strike the word "white" from the 1851 Constitution's definition of voter eligibility. Although blacks could vote in Federal elections in Ohio due to the Fifteenth Amendment
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

, the color bar for voting in state elections was not abolished until 1923.

Current constitution


With numerous later amendments, the 1851 Constitution remains the basic law of the state to this day. It has one of the shortest preamble
Preamble
A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subject of the statute...

s of any state constitution:

We, the people of the State of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 for our freedom
Freedom (political)
Political freedom is a central philosophy in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important features of democratic societies...

, to secure its blessings and promote our general welfare, do establish this Constitution.


The current state constitution contains the following articles:
  • Preamble
  • Art. I - * Art. II - Legislative
  • Art. III - Executive
  • Art. IV - Judicial
  • Art. V - Elective Franchise
  • Art. VI - Education
    Education
    Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

  • Art. VII - Public Institutions
  • Art. VIII - Public Debt and Public Works
    Public works
    Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

  • Art. IX - Militia
    Militia
    The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

  • Art. X - County and Township
    Township (United States)
    A township in the United States is a small geographic area. Townships range in size from 6 to 54 square miles , with being the norm.The term is used in three ways....

     Organizations
  • Art. XI - Apportionment
    Apportionment
    The legal term apportionment means distribution or allotment in proper shares.It is a term used in law in a variety of senses...

  • Art. XII - Finance and Taxation
  • Art. XIII - Corporation
    Corporation
    A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

    s
  • Art. XIV - Jurisprudence
    Jurisprudence
    Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

     (repealed)
  • Art. XV - Miscellaneous
  • Art. XVI - Amendment
    Constitutional amendment
    A constitutional amendment is a formal change to the text of the written constitution of a nation or state.Most constitutions require that amendments cannot be enacted unless they have passed a special procedure that is more stringent than that required of ordinary legislation...

    s
  • Art. XVII - Election
    Election
    An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

    s
  • Art. XVIII - Municipal Corporations
    Municipal corporation
    A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which...

  • Schedule


The Ohio Constitution's Bill of Rights is substantially similar to its Federal counterpart, but also includes the right to alter, reform or abolish government; rights of conscience
Conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

 and education; rights for victims of crime; a prohibition of imprisonment for debt; and the right to payment of damages for wrongful death.

In 1995 Article 5, Section 8 was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton
U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton
U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 ,was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states cannot impose qualifications for prospective members of the U.S. Congress stricter than those specified in the Constitution. The decision invalidated the Congressional...

. (It had imposed term limits on federal representatives and senators.)

External links

  • Ohio's Secretary of State
    Ohio Secretary of State
    The Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing elections in the State of Ohio. The Secretary of State also is responsible for registering business entities and granting them the authority to do business within the state, registering secured transactions, and granting access to public...

     is the custodian of amendments to the Ohio constitution (see Art. XVI, § 1 and O.R.C. § 3501.05 and § 111.08), and maintains an online copy.
  • The original constitution documents are held by the Ohio Historical Society
    Ohio Historical Society
    The Ohio Historical Society is a non-profit organization incorporated in 1885 as The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society "to promote a knowledge of archaeology and history, especially in Ohio"...

    , as mandated by Ohio's General Assembly
    Ohio General Assembly
    The Ohio General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Ohio. It consists of the 99-member Ohio House of Representatives and the 33-member Ohio Senate...

     (O.R.C. § 111.08). The OHS has online copies of the originals' text.
  • Ohio's legislature
    Ohio General Assembly
    The Ohio General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Ohio. It consists of the 99-member Ohio House of Representatives and the 33-member Ohio Senate...

    also maintains an online copy of the constitution.
  • Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Professor Steven Steinglass and Law Librarian Sue Altmeyer maintain The Ohio Constitutional Law and History Web Site. The site has links to historical versions of the Constitution and Constitutional Conventions; a Table of Proposed Amendments and Votes, with ballot or amendment language, where available; current Ohio Supreme Court decisions and upcoming cases pertaining to the Ohio Constitution and a bibliography of relevant books and articles.