CaliforniaConstitution Versus Federal Constitution – California Globe


The purpose of this article is to briefly compare and contrast the Californian and American constitutions. There are obvious similarities between the two guidance documents, but there are also important differences.

Comparing and contrasting

The US Constitution grants the federal government certain specified powers. And, powers that are not enumerated in the Federal Constitution are reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. This is what we call our governmental system of federalism. The states play an essential role in our federal system of governance.

The United States Constitution provides many of our individual rights in the Bill of Rights, while they are provided in the first article of the California Constitution. The state constitution includes additional protections that the federal constitution does not have. Federal constitutional protections apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. As such, California and its Constitution are prohibited from violating fundamental rights provided by the United States Constitution.

While the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, the California Constitution sets out the duties, powers, structure, and functions of the state government. The Federal Constitution grants the federal government specified powers, but powers not listed in the Federal Constitution are reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment.

Although they are two different governing documents, there are similarities and differences between the federal and state constitutions. Both establish a form of government and empower these branches of government to operate. They also confer important rights and responsibilities on the citizens of the country and the state.

Here is an overview of the content of the two constitutions:

United States Constitution

The federal constitution has seven articles, followed by 27 amendments. The articles and their sections are as follows:

Article 1 – The Legislative Power

Section 1 – Legislative power

Section 2 – The house

Section 3 – The Senate

Section 4 – Elections, meetings

Section 5 – Membership, Rules, Journals, Adjournment

Article 6 – Remuneration

Section 7 – Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto

Section 8 – Powers of Congress

Section 9 – Limits of Congress

Section 10 – Powers Prohibited to States

Article 2 – Executive power

Section 1 – The President

Section 2 – Civil power over military, Cabinet, power of pardon, appointments

Section 3 – State of the Union, Calling of Congress

Article 4 – Disqualification

Article 3 – The Judiciary

Section 1 – Judicial powers

Section 2 – Jury Trial, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trial

Section 3 – Betrayal

Article 4 – States

Section 1 – Each State Must Honor All Others

Section 2 – Citizens of the State, extradition

Section 3 – New States

Section 4 – Republican Government

Article 5 – Modification

Article 6 – Debts, supremacy, oaths

Article 7 – Ratification

The US Constitution sets out the three branches of government in the first three articles. The federal and state constitutions provide for the three branches of government in the same order: legislative, executive, and judicial. The fourth article deals with the States, followed by an article on the modification of the constitution, an article dealing with miscellaneous provisions, then its ratification.

Here are the amendments to the federal constitution (recall that the first ten amendments are called the “Bill of Rights”):

Amendment 1 – Freedom of religion, press, expression

Amendment 2 – Right to bear arms

Amendment 3 – Quartering of soldiers

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure

Amendment 5 – Trial and penalty, revenue compensation

Amendment 6 – Right to a speedy trial, confrontation of witnesses

Amendment 7 – Jury Trial in Civil Matters

Amendment 8 – Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Amendment 9 – Construction of the Constitution

Amendment 10 – Powers of States and Peoples

Amendment 11 – Judicial limits

Amendment 12 – Choice of President, Vice-President

Amendment 13 – Slavery abolished

Amendment 14 – Citizenship rights

Amendment 15 – Race No Bar to Vote

Amendment 16 – Clarification of income tax status

Amendment 17 – Senators elected by universal suffrage

Amendment 18 – Alcohol abolished

Amendment 19 – Women’s right to vote

Amendment 20 – Presidential and congressional terms

Amendment 21 – Amendment 18 repealed

Amendment 22 – Presidential Term Limits

Amendment 23 – Presidential Vote for the District of Columbia

Amendment 24 – Prohibited Poll Taxes

Amendment 25 – Presidential invalidity and succession

Amendment 26 – Voting age set at 18

Amendment 27 – Limiting Changes to Congress Remuneration

California Constitution

The state constitution has thirty-three articles (don’t be fooled by the numbering as some articles do not exist). The Articles are as follows:

Article I – Declaration of rights [Sections 1 – 32]

Article II – Voting, Initiative and Referendum, and Recall [Sections 1 – 20]

Article III – State of California [Sections 1 – 9]

Article IV – Legislative [Sections 1 – 28]

Article V – Executive [Sections 1 – 14]

Article VI – Judicial [Sections 1 – 22]

Article VII – Civil servants and public employees [Sections 1 – 11]

Article IX – Education [Sections 1 – 16]

Article X – Water [Sections 1 – 7]

Article XA – Development of water resources [Sections 1 – 8]

Article XB – Marine Resources Protection Act 1990 [Sections 1 – 16]

Article XI – Local administration [Sections 1 – 15]

Article XII – Public services [Sections 1 – 9]

Article XIII – Taxation [Sections 1 – 36]

Article XIII A – Tax limitation [Sections 1 – 7]

Article XIII B – Limitation of public expenditure [Sections 1 – 15]

Article XIII C – Voter approval for local tax levies [Sections 1 – 3]

Article XIII D – Reform of Appraisal Fees and Ownership Fees [Sections 1 – 6]

Article XIV – Labor relations [Sections 1 – 5]

Article XV – Wear and tear [Section 1]

Article XVI – Public finances [Sections 1 – 23]

Article XVIII – Amendment and revision of the Constitution [Sections 1 – 4]

Article XIX – Income from motor vehicles [Sections 1 – 10]

Article XIX A – Borrowings from the public transport account or the local transport fund [Sections 1 – 2]

Article XIX B – Motor Vehicle Fuel Sales Tax Revenue and Transportation Improvement Funding [Sections 1 – 2]

Article XIX C – Application of certain provisions [Sections 1 – 4]

Article XIX D – Revenue from vehicle registration fees for transport purposes [Section 1]

Article XX – Miscellaneous matters [Sections 1 – 23]

Article XXI – Redistricting of Senate, Assembly, Congress and Equalization Board [Sections 1 – 3]

Article XXII – Architectural and Engineering Services [Sections 1 – 2]

Article XXXIV – Public Housing Projects Act [Sections 1 – 4]

Article XXXV – Medical research [Sections 1 – 7]

The California Constitution begins with individual rights, then provides for the powers of direct democracy reserved for the people, followed by the establishment of the state, then the three branches of government. Like its federal counterpart, the state constitution provides for the three branches of government in this order: legislative, executive, and judicial.

The state constitution then proceeds with many articles that have been added over the decades by the people, from transportation funding to redistricting, taxation and engineering services. Many of these articles represent the successful enactment of statewide ballot measures through the use of the initiative process.

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