Mississippi Constitution

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Constitution of the State of Mississippi
Adopted November 1, A.D., 1890

PREAMBLE[edit]

We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking his blessing on our work, do ordain and establish this constitution.

ARTICLE 1. DISTRIBUTION OF POWERS[edit]

SECTION 1. Powers of government. The powers of the government of the state of Mississippi shall be divided into three distinct departments, and each of them confided to a separate magistracy, to-wit: those which are legislative to one, those which are judicial to another, and those which are executive to another.

SOURCES: 1817 art II §1; 1832 art II §1; 1869 art III §1.

SECTION 2. Encroachment of power. No person or collection of persons, being one or belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others. The acceptance of an office in either of said departments shall, of itself, and at once, vacate any and all offices held by the person so accepting in either of the other departments.

SOURCES: 1817 art II §2; 1832 art II §2; 1869 art III §1.

ARTICLE 2, BOUNDARIES OF THE STATE.[edit]

SECTION 3. Repealed.

NOTE: Former Section 3 stated the limits and boundaries of the state of Mississippi. The repeal of Section 3 was proposed by Laws of 1990, Ch. 692, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 520, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 6, 1990, was deleted from the Constitution by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 19, 1990.

SECTION 4. Acquisition of territory; disputed boundaries. The legislature shall have power to consent to the acquisition of additional territory by the state, and to make the same a part thereof; and the legislature may settle disputed boundaries between this state and its coterminus states whenever such disputes arise.

ARTICLE 3. BILL OF RIGHTS[edit]

SECTION 5. Government originating in the people. All political power is vested in, and derived from, the people; all government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §2; 1832 art I §2.

SECTION 6. Regulation of government; right to alter. The people of this state have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right to regulate the internal government and police thereof, and to alter and abolish their constitution and form of government whenever they deem it necessary to their safety and happiness; provided, such change be not repugnant to the constitution of the United States.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §2; 1832 art I §2.

SECTION 7. Secession prohibited. The right to withdraw from the Federal Union on account of any real or supposed grievance, shall never be assumed by this state, nor shall any law be passed in derogation of the paramount allegiance of the citizens of this state to the government of the United States.

SOURCES: 1869 art I §20.

SECTION 8. Citizens of state. All persons, resident in this state, citizens of the United States, are hereby declared citizens of the state of Mississippi.

SOURCES: 1869 art I §1.:

SECTION 9. Subordination of military to civil power. The military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

SOURCES: 1869 art I §25.

SECTION 10. Treason.[edit]

Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against the same or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

SOURCES: 1817 art VI §3; 1832 art VII §3; 1869 art I §26.

SECTION 11. Peaceful assemblage; right to petition government.[edit]

The right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government on any subject shall never be impaired.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §22; 1832 art I §22; 1869 art I §6.

SECTION 12. Right to bear arms.[edit]

The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §23; 1832 art I §23; 1869 art I §15.

SECTION 13. Freedom of speech and press; libel.[edit]

The freedom of speech and of the press shall be held sacred; and in all prosecutions for libel the truth may be given in evidence, and the jury shall determine the law and the facts under the direction of the court; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §§ 6, 7, and 8; 1832 art I §§ 6, 7, and 8; 1869 art I §4.

SECTION 14. Due process.[edit]

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §10; 1832 art I §10; 1869 art I §2.

SECTION 15. Slavery and involuntary servitude prohibited; punishment for crime.[edit]

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

SOURCES: 1869 art I §19.

SECTION 16. Ex post facto laws; impairment of contract.[edit]

Ex post facto laws, or laws impairing the obligation of contracts, shall not be passed.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §19; 1832 art I §19; 1869 art I §9.

SECTION 17. Taking property for public use; due compensation.[edit]

Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use, except on due compensation being first made to the owner or owners thereof, in a manner to be prescribed by law; and whenever an attempt is made to take private property for a use alleged to be public, the question whether the contemplated use be public shall be a judicial question, and, as such, determined without regard to legislative assertion that the use is public.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §13; 1832 art I §13; 1869 art I §10.

SECTION 18. Freedom of religion.[edit]

No religious test as a qualification for office shall be required; and no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect or mode of worship; but the free enjoyment of all religious sentiments and the different modes of worship shall be held sacred. The rights hereby secured shall not be construed to justify acts of licentiousness injurious to morals or dangerous to the peace and safety of the state, or to exclude the Holy Bible from use in any public school of this state.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §§3and 4; 1832 art I §§3 and 4; 1869 art I §23.

SECTION 19. Repealed.[edit]

NOTE: Former Section 19 prohibited dueling and both disenfranchised and disqualified persons involved in a duel from holding public office.

The repeal of Section 19 was proposed by Laws of 1977, ch. 584, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 528, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 7, 1978, was deleted from the Constitution by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 22, 1978.

SOURCES: 1817 art VI §2; 1832 art VII §2; 1869 art I §27; Laws 1977, ch. 584, effective December 22, 1978.

SECTION 20. Specific term of office.[edit]

No person shall be elected or appointed to office in this state for life or during good behavior, but the term of all officers shall be for some specified period.

SOURCES: 1817 art VI §12; 1832 art I §30; 1869 art I §29.

SECTION 21. Writ of habeas corpus.[edit]

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in the case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it, nor ever without the authority of the legislature.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §13; 1832 art I §13; 1869 art I §5.

SECTION 22. Double jeopardy.[edit]

No person's life or liberty shall be twice placed in jeopardy for the same offense; but there must be an actual acquittal or conviction on the merits to bar another prosecution.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §13; 1832 art I §13; 1869 art I §5.

SECTION 23. Searches and seizures.[edit]

The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, and possessions, from unreasonable seizure or search; and no warrant shall be issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, specially designating the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §9; 1832 art I §9; 1869 art I §14.

SECTION 24. Open courts; remedy for injury.[edit]

All courts shall be open; and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice shall be administered without sale, denial, or delay.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §14; 1832 art I §14; 1869 art I §28.

SECTION 25. Access to courts.[edit]

No person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending any civil cause for or against him or herself, before any tribunal in the state, by him or herself, or counsel, or both.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §29; 1832 art I §29; 1869 art I §30.

SECTION 26. Rights of accused; state grand jury proceedings.[edit]

In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have a right to be heard by himself or counsel, or both, to demand the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted by the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and, in all prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county where the offense was committed; and he shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself; but in prosecutions for rape, adultery, fornication, sodomy or crime against nature the court may, in its discretion, exclude from the courtroom all persons except such as are necessary in the conduct of the trial. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Constitution, the Legislature may enact laws establishing a state grand jury with the authority to return indictments regardless of the county where the crime was committed. The subject matter jurisdiction of a state grand jury is limited to criminal violations of the Mississippi Uniform Controlled Substances Law or any other crime involving narcotics, dangerous drugs or controlled substances, or any crime arising out of or in connection with a violation of the Mississippi Uniform Controlled Substances Law or a crime involving narcotics, dangerous drugs or controlled substances if the crime occurs within more than one (1) circuit court district of the state or transpires or has significance in more than one (1) circuit court district of the state. The venue for the trial of indictments returned by a state grand jury shall be as prescribed by general law.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §10; 1832 art I §7; Laws 1994, ch. 668, effective December 9, 1994.

NOTE: The 1994 amendment to Section 26 was proposed by Laws 1994, ch. 668, House Concurrent Resolution No. 79, of the 1994 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 8, 1994, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 9, 1994.

SECTION 26-A. Victims’ rights; construction of provisions; legislative authority.[edit]

(1) Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and to be informed, to be present and to be heard, when authorized by law, during public hearings.

(2) Nothing in this section shall provide grounds for the accused or convicted offender to obtain any form of relief nor shall this section impair the constitutional rights of the accused. Nothing in this section of any enabling statute shall be construed as creating a cause of action for damages against the state or any of its agencies, officials, employee or political subdivisions. (3) The Legislature shall have the authority to enact substantive and procedural laws to define, implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to victims by this section.

NOTE: The 1998 amendment adding a new section was proposed by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 513, Laws 1998, ch. 691 of the 1998 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 8, 1998, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on November 30, 1998.

SECTION 27. Proceeding by indictment or information.[edit]

No person shall, for any indictable offense, be proceeded against criminally by information, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or the military when in actual service, or by leave of the court for misdemeanor in office or where a defendant represented by counsel by sworn statement waives indictment; but the legislature, in cases not punishable by death or by imprisonment in the penitentiary, may dispense with the inquest of the grand jury, and may authorize prosecutions before justice court judges, or such other inferior court or courts as may be established, and the proceedings in such cases shall be regulated by law.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §12; 1832 art I §12; 1869 art I §31; Laws 1977, ch. 590, effective December 22, 1978.

NOTE: The 1977 amendment to Section 27 was proposed by Laws 1997, ch. 590, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 590, of the 1977 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 7, 1978, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 22, 1978.

SECTION 28. Cruel or unusual punishment prohibited.[edit]

Cruel or unusual punishment shall not be inflicted, nor excessive fines be imposed.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §16; 1832 art I §16; 1869 art I §8.

SECTION 29. Excessive bail prohibited; revocation or denial of bail.[edit]

(1) Excessive bail shall not be required, and all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses (a) when the proof is evident or presumption great; or (b) when the person has previously been convicted of a capital offense or any other offense punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of twenty (20) years or more.

(2) If a person charged with committing any offense that is punishable by death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for one (1) year or more in the penitentiary or any other state correctional facility is granted bail and (a) if that person is indicted for a felony committed while on bail; or (b) if the court, upon hearing, finds probable cause that the person has committed a felony while on bail, then the court shall revoke bail and shall order that the person be detained, without further bail, pending trial of the charge for which bail was revoked. For the purposes of this subsection (2) only, the term "felony" means any offense punishable by death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for more than five (5) years under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime is committed. In addition, grand larceny shall be considered a felony for the purposes of this subsection.

(3) In the case of offenses punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of twenty (20) years or more or by life imprisonment, a county or circuit court judge may deny bail for such offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great upon making a determination that the release of the person or persons arrested for such offense would constitute a special danger to any other person or to the community or that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required.

(4) In any case where bail is denied before conviction, the judge shall place in the record his reasons for denying bail. Any person who is charged with an offense punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of twenty (20) years or more or by life imprisonment and who is denied bail prior to conviction shall be entitled to an emergency hearing before a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court. The provisions of this subsection (4) do not apply to bail revocation orders.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §16; 1832 art I §16; 1869 art I §8; Laws 1987, ch. 674; Laws 1995, ch. 636, effective December 5, 1995.
NOTE: The 1987 amendment to Section 29, Laws 1987, ch 674. was proposed by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 534, of the 1987 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 8, 1987, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 4, 1987.
The 1995 amendment to Section 29 was proposed by Laws 1995, ch. 636, House Concurrent Resolution No. 42, of the 1995 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 7, 1995, by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 5, 1995.

SECTION 30. Imprisonment for debt. There shall be no imprisonment for debt.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §18; 1832 art I §18; 1869 art I §11.

SECTION 31. Trial by jury.[edit]

The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, but the legislature may, by enactment, provide that in all civil suits tried in the circuit and chancery court, nine or more jurors may agree on the verdict and return it as the verdict of the jury.

SOURCES: 1817 art I §28; 1832 art I §28; 1869 art I §12; Laws 1916, ch. 158.

SECTION 32. Construction of enumerated rights.[edit]

The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not be construed to deny and impair others retained by, and inherent in, the people.

SOURCES: 1817 art I; 1832 art I; 1869 art I §32.


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ARTICLE 13. APPORTIONMENT[edit]

SECTION 254. Senatorial and representative districts.[edit]

The legislature shall at its regular session in the second year following the 1980 decennial census and every ten (10) years thereafter, and may, at any other time, by joint resolution, by majority vote of all members of each house, apportion the state in accordance with the constitution of the state and of the United States into consecutively numbered senatorial and representative districts of contiguous territory. The senate shall consist of not more than fifty-two (52) senators, and the house of representatives shall consist of not more than one hundred twenty-two (122) representatives, the number of members of each house to be determined by the legislature. Should the legislature adjourn, without apportioning itself as required hereby, the governor by proclamation shall reconvene the legislature within thirty (30) days in special apportionment session which shall not exceed thirty (30) consecutive days, during which no other business shall be transacted, and it shall be the mandatory duty of the legislature to adopt a joint resolution of apportionment. Should a special apportionment session not adopt a joint resolution of apportionment as required hereby, a five-member commission consisting of the chief justice of the supreme court as chairman, the attorney general, the secretary of state, the speaker of the house of representatives and the president pro tempore of the senate shall immediately convene and within one hundred eighty (180) days of the adjournment of such special apportionment session apportion the legislature, which apportionment shall be final upon filing with the office of the secretary of state. Each apportionment shall be effective for the next regularly scheduled elections of members of the legislature.

SOURCES: Laws 1962, ch. 57, 2nd Extraordinary Session, effective February 13, 1963; Laws 1977, 2nd Extraordinary Session, ch. 27, effective November 30, 1979.

NOTE: Laws of 1962, ch. 18, 1st Extraordinary Session, which proposed the repeal of this section, was not approved by the electorate.

The 1962 amendment to Section 254 was proposed by Laws 1962, ch. 57, 2nd Extraordinary Session, and upon ratification by the electorate on February 5, 1963, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on February 13, 1963.

Laws 1962, ch. 57, 2nd Extraordinary Session, also provides as follows: “Be it further resolved, that it is the intenet of this resolution to provide by constitutional amendment for the apportionment of Senators and Representatives to be elected in 1963 to take office the first Tuesday after the first Monday of January, 1964, and thereafter, and nothing contained herein shall serve to or be construed to shorten or otherwise affect the term of office of any Senator or Representative presently serving in that capacity. The constitutional amendments submitted herewith shall, if approved, be self-executing for the purpose of providing for senatorial and legislative representation to be elected in 1963 in the event implementing legislation is not enacted and approved.”

In a 1966 decision of a three-judge federal court, Connor v Johnson, 256 F supp 962, supp op 265 F Supp 492, the provisions of this section, as amended, were declared to be unconstitutional and invalid for all future elections of members of the House of Representatives.

The 1977 amendment to Section 254 was proposed by Laws 1977, ch. 27, 2nd Extraordinary Session, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 507, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 6, 1979, was inserted by the Secretary of State on November 30, 1979.

SECTION 255. Repealed.[edit]

NOTE: Former Section 255, as amended effective February 13, 1963, provided that there were 52 senators, enumerated and described the senatorial districts, and provided for further reapportionment following the Federal Census of 1970.

Laws of 1962, ch. 18, 1st Extraordinary Session, which also proposed to amend this section, was not approved by the electorate.

The 1962 amendment to Section 255 was proposed by Laws 1962, ch. 57, 2nd Extraordinary Session, and upon ratification by the electorate on February 5, 1963, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on February 13, 1963.

Laws 1962, ch. 57, 2nd Extraordinary Session also provides as follows: “Be it further resolved, that it is the intent of this resolution to provide by constitutional amendment for the apportionment of Senators and Representatives to be elected in 1963 to take office the first Tuesday after the first Monday of January, 1964, and thereafter, and nothing contained herein shall seve to or be construed to shorten or otherwise affect the term of office of any Senator or Representative presently serving in that capacity. The constitutional amendments submitted herewith shall, if approved, be self-executing for the purpose of providing for senatorial and legislative representation to be elected in 1963 in the event implementing legislation is not enacted and approved.”

In a 1966 decision of a three-judge federal court, Connor v Johnson, 256 F Supp 962, supp op 265 F Supp 492, the provisions of this section, as amended, were declared to be unconstitutional and invalid for all future elections of members of the House of Representatives.

The repeal of Section 255 was proposed by Laws 1977, ch. 27, 2nd Extraordinary Session, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 57, and upon ratitication by the electorate on November 6, 1979, was deleted from the Constitution by proclamation of the Secretary of State on November 30, 1979.

SECTION 256. Repealed.[edit]

NOTE: Former Section 256 read as follows:

“SECTION 256. The legislature may, at the first session after the Federal census of 1900, and decennially, thereafter, make a new apportionment of senators and representatives. At each apportionment each county then organized shall have a least one representative. The counties of Tishomingo, Alcorn, Prentiss, Lee, Itawamba, Tippah, Union, Benton, Marshall, Lafayette, Pontotoc, Monroe, Chickasaw, Calhoun, Yalobusha, Grenada, Carroll, Montgomery, Choctaw, Webster, Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha, or the territory now composing them, shall together never have less than forty-four representatives. The counties of Attala, Winston, Noxubee, Kemper, Leake, Neshoba, Lauderdale, Newton, Scott, Rankin, Clarke, Jasper, Smith, Simpson, Copiah, Franklin, Lincoln, Lawrence, Covington, Jones, Wayne, Greene, Perry, Marion, Pike, Pearl River, Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson, or the territory now composing then, shall together never have less than forty-four representatives; nor shall the remaining counties of the state, or the territory now composing then, ever have less than forty-four representatives. A reduction in the number of senators and representatives may be made by the legislature if the same be uniform in each of the three divisions; but the number of representatives shall not be less than one hundred, nor more than one hundred and thirty-three, nor the number of senators less than thirty, nor more than forty-five, provided that new counties hereafter created shall be given at least one representative until the next succeeding apportionment.”

The repeal of Section 256 proposed by Laws 1962, ch. 57, 2nd Extraordinary Session, became effective upon ratification of the proposal by the electorate on February 5, 1963, and the certification thereof by a proclamation of the Secretary of State on February 13, 1963.[1]

References[edit]

  1. State of Mississippi (November 1, 1890), “Constitution of the State of Mississippi”, written at Mississippi, State of Mississippi, Secretary of State of Mississippi, <http://www.sos.state.ms.us/ed_pubs/constitution/constitution.asp>. Retrieved on February 15, 2014(February 15, 2014) 
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.