A Look at the Sizes of State Constitutions

Sizing Up Constitutions: State and U.S. Constitutional Length by Date of Adoption

Constitutional length chart.

Everything's bigger in Texas, including the state's Constitution. Today, only Alabama's Constitution is longer. Other states have revised their constitutions to be more concise frameworks of modern government. The Texas Constitution – last rewritten in 1876 but repeatedly amended since then – has morphed into a bloated relic of post-Civil War southern politics.

As the trend line for other states shows, state constitutions early in U.S. history tended to be concise frameworks of government like the U.S. Constitution. In response to conflict surrounding state governments that arose during and after the Civil War, states wrote longer constitutions. But by the late twentieth century, states seeking greater governmental efficiency usually shorted their fundamental law. Texas, however, continues to buck that trend favoring bigger over better.

Source: Data is from the Book of the States, 2004. Lexington, KY: The Council of State Governments, 2004, p.10. The lengths of the U.S. and various Texas constitutions including the 1876 Constitution as amended through 2005 were obtained using computer word counts. Texts of past Texas constitutions were obtained from the Texas Constitutions Digitization Project at http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/constitutions/text/1876index.html accessed March 14, 2005. The current Texas Constitution as amended is available at http://www.constitution.legis.state.tx.us. This document, with amendments through 2003 (more were added in 2005) runs 85,397 words in length (the Book of the States reports it a round 80,000 words). Trend lines are quadratic polynomials fitted to the data.