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Encyclopedia > Kentucky Constitution

The Constitution of Kentucky is the document that governs the Commonwealth of Kentucky, United States. It was first adopted in 1792 and has since been rewritten three times and amended many more. The latter versions were adopted in 1799, 1850 and 1891. Official language(s) English[1] Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  Ranked 37th  - Total 40,444 sq mi (104,749 km²)  - Width 140 miles (225 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ...


The 1792 Constitution

The first constitutional convention of Kentucky was called by Colonel Benjamin Logan on December 27, 1784 in Danville, the capital of Kentucky County, Virginia. Over the next eight years, a total of ten constitutional conventions were called, each making some progress toward a viable constitution. The state's first constitution was accepted by the United States Congress on June 1, 1792, making Kentucky the fifteenth state.[1] A constitutional convention is a gathering of delegates for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. ... Benjamin Logan (circa 1742-December 11, 1802 was an American military officer in the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. ... December 27 is the 361st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (362nd in leap years). ... 1784 was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Danville is a city in Boyle County, Kentucky, United States. ... Kentucky County was formed in Virginia in 1776. ... Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives President of the Senate President pro tempore Dick Cheney, (R) since January 20, 2001 Robert C. Byrd, (D) since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D) since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political... June 1 is the 152nd day of the year (153rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1792 was a leap year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... A U.S. state is any one of the 50 states which have membership of the federation known as the United States of America (USA or U.S.). The separate state governments and the U.S. federal government share sovereignty. ...

The 1792 Constitution had several similarities to the United States Constitution in that it provided for three branches of government – legislative, executive, and judicial – and a bicameral legislature called the General Assembly. The document contained a bill of rights, and called for an electoral college to elect senators and the state's governor. (Representatives were chosen by popular election.)[2] The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... In government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. ... The Kentucky State Capitol Building in Frankfort, KY The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky. ... A bill of rights is a list or summary of which is considered important and essential by a group of people. ...

Some relatively new ideas were included in the 1792 Constitution. One was the stipulation that the General Assembly vote by ballot instead of voice. There was also a requirement that representation to the General Assembly be based on population, not geography.[1] For the town in France, see Ballots, Mayenne. ...

The 1792 Constitution was seen as an experiment called for a re-evaluation of the document at the end of the century.[2]

The 1799 Constitution

A second constitutional convention was called for by the voters of Kentucky in 1799. The 1799 Constitution abolished the electoral college, allowing senators, representatives, the governor, and the newly-created office of lieutenant governor to be directly elected. In addition to appointing judges, the governor was given the power to appoint a number of local offices including sheriffs, coroners, and justices of the peace.[1] A Lieutenant Governor is a government official who is the subordinate or deputy of a Governor or Governor-General. ... Look up Sheriff in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A coroner is either the presiding officer of a special court, a medical officer, or an officer of law responsible for investigating deaths, particularly those happening under unusual circumstances. ... A justice of the peace (JP) is a puisne judicial officer appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. ...

With all of these expansions in the governor's power, the 1799 Constitution also placed term limits on the governor, stipulating that a governor could not succeed himself in office for a period of seven years. Membership in both houses of the General Assembly was also limited.[1] A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms a person may serve in a particular elected office. ...

In some ways, the 1799 Constitution was a regression. The progressive idea of voting by ballot in the General Assembly was removed. Neither of the first two Kentucky constitutions provided a method of amendment, and the 1799 Constitution made it even more difficult to call a constitutional convention.[1] For the town in France, see Ballots, Mayenne. ...

The 1799 Constitution was regressive for blacks as well. It retained the pro-slavery provisions of the original constitution untouched, but went a step further by disenfranchising free blacks.[2]

The 1850 Constitution

It was not long before some of the weaknesses in the 1799 Constitution were exposed. As early as 1828, some in the General Assembly began calling for a new constitutional convention. However, because the 1799 Constitution made the calling of a convention such an arduous task, it took more than twenty years to call the convention, which finally convened in Frankfort on October 1, 1849.[1] Frankfort is the capital of Commonwealth of Kentucky, a state of the United States of America. ... is the 274th day of the year (275th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1849 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...

One major item of dissatisfaction with the 1799 Constitution was the appointment of so many officials by the governor. The was addressed in the 1850 Constitution by making all state officials, even judges, popularly elected and imposing term limits on these offices.[2]

While the Kentucky Constitution had always provided for protection of slave property, pro-slavery forces sought and received even greater protections in the 1850 Constitution. Among the new provisions were a requirement that slaves and their offspring remain in the state, and that ministers of religion – thought to be largely anti-slavery – were prohibited from holding the office of governor or seats in the General Assembly.[1]

The bulk of the reforms in the 1850 Constitution, however, were reserved for the General Assembly, whose spending had spiraled out of control. Membership in the Senate was fixed at 38; in the House the number was fixed at 100. Sessions of the General Assembly were limited to sixty days biennially, requiring a two-thirds majority to extend them.[1]

The 1850 Constitution also created a sinking fund for the liquidation of the state's debt, which had climbed to $4.5 million. To prevent the debt from climbing too high in the future, the 1850 Constitution mandated a maximum of $500,000 of indebtedness for the state.[2] At the time, this represented about a year's worth of revenue for the state, but this provision remains in the current Kentucky Constitution, even though receipts in the 2001-02 fiscal year were approximately $6.5 billion.[1] Historical Context A Sinking Fund was a device used in the 18th century to reduce national debt. ...

Another dated provision of the 1850 Constitution that survives in the present Constitution is the ineligibility for public office of anyone who had participated in a duel since the ratification of the 1850 Constitution. While the relevance of this prohibition may be disputed now, it could potentially have derailed Governor William Goebel's eligibility for public office in the 1890's.[3] A duel is a formalized type of combat. ... William J. Goebel (January 4, 1856 – February 3, 1900)[3] was a controversial American politician who served as Governor of Kentucky for a few days in 1900 before being assassinated. ...

The 1891 Constitution

Ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution following the Civil War provided the impetus for another constitutional convention, since much of the existing constitution provided protection for slave property and were now at odds with the Federal Constitution. However, this required a majority of the voters in the previous two elections to vote in favor of a convention, a measure that failed every two years from 1873 to 1885, finally receiving the necessary majority in 1888 and 1889 after the General Assembly called for a registration of all eligible voters in 1887. The convention began September 8, 1890.[1] Amendment XIII in the National Archives The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished, and continues to prohibit, slavery, and, with limited exceptions, those convicted of a crime, prohibits involuntary servitude. ... Amendment XIV in the National Archives The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment XIV) is one of the post-Civil War amendments (known as the Reconstruction Amendments), intended to secure rights for former slaves. ... Amendment XV in the National Archives 1870 celebration of the 15th amendment as a guarantee of African American rights 1867 drawing depicting the first vote by African Americans Amendment XV (the Fifteenth Amendment) of the United States Constitution provides that governments in the United States may not prevent a citizen... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1890 (MDCCCXC) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar). ...

For the first time, ratification of the constitution required a referendum of the citizens.[1] At the same time, the 1891 Constitution did little to ameliorate the difficult process of calling a constitutional convention. This resulted in failed calls for subsequent constitutional conventions in 1931, 1947, 1960, and 1977. The 1891 Convention did, for the first time, provide a means of amending itself that has been used by the General Assembly to keep a century-old document somewhat current.[2]

Judicial decisions have also helped to adapt the current constitution to modern times. For example, the 1891 Constitution limited state officials' salaries to $5000. A 1949 Amendment raised this number to $12,000, but difficulty of keeping the number up-to-date quickly became apparent. The 1962 Kentucky Supreme Court case Matthews v. Allen addressed this problem by opining that the only way to keep circuit judge's salaries adequate, as required by Section 133 of the constitution, was to allow the General Assembly to adjust the $12,000 figure in Section 246 to account for the value of a dollar in 1949.[2] The Kentucky Supreme Court was created by a 1975 constitutional amendment. ... A Circuit judge is a position in British Law, in which a Judge moves to different Crown Courts within a certain area. ...

Despite some provisions that some claim are antiquated, the 1891 Constitution (as amended) remains the constitution that governs the Commonwealth today.

Kentucky's Bill of Rights

The Kentucky Bill of Rights contains a larger protection of freedom than the United States Constitution. It includes freedom of thought, expanded search and seizure limitations, and more religious freedom safeguards. Also, the Kentucky Constitution contains more protective gun rights, and the explicit limitation of the Kentucky General Assembly being the only entity that can enact gun laws (Counties and Cities cannot enact or limit gun rights). As such, any and all weapons are perfectly legal, including fully-automatic assault-rifles; all of which can be displayed publicly. Kentucky, along with most other Southern and Western states, has the least restrictions and record-keeping for the purchasing and owning of firearms.

For example, in Kentucky a twelve-year old can, as long as publicly-displayed, walk any where in the State (besides school-zones, Federal and State buildings) with any long-arm (rifle/shotgun); of course, in Kentucky this is not a problem, considering the State has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation - despite criticism by anti-gun advocates for loose regulations.

Notable amendments


Several amendments to the Kentucky Constitution were enacted in 1992. One important amendment lifted the restriction that the Governor could not succeed himself or herself in office. Per the 1992 amendment, the incumbent can seek one additional term before becoming ineligible for four years. The amendment was drafted so that it did not apply to the then-current holder of the office (Brereton Jones), which meant that the first Governor to which the amendment applied was elected in 1995 (Paul Patton). Brereton Chandler Jones (born June 27, American political figure. ... Paul E. Patton Paul E. Patton (born May 26, 1937) served as Democratic governor of Kentucky from 1995 to 2003. ...

The 1992 amendments to Kentucky's Constitution significantly changed the office of Lieutenant Governor. Previously, the Lieutenant Governor became acting Governor whenever the Governor was out of state. Since the amendments took effect, the Lieutenant Governor only takes over gubernatorial powers when the Governor is incapacitated.

The amendments also removed the Lieutenant Governor's duties in the Senate — previously, the Lieutenant Governor had cast the tie breaking vote in the Senate.

Finally, the amendments allow candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor to run on a single ticket. Prior to the amendments, the two offices were sometimes inhabited by members of different parties.

See also Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky The office of Lieutentant Governor of Kentucky has existed under the last three of Kentuckys four constitutions, beginning in 1797. ...


In 2004, Kentucky became the fourth state to send a defense of marriage amendment to the state's voters.[4] On Election Day of that year, Kentucky joined 10 other states in passing such an amendment,[5] with voters passing it by a 3-to-1 margin.[6] The text of the amendment reads: Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1[1] of 2004, is a so-called defense of marriage amendment that amended the Kentucky Constitution to make it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perfom same-sex marriages or civil unions. ... Defense of marriage amendments are U.S. state constitutional amendments that have been proposed, and in some instances adopted, to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. ... Election Day in the United States is the day when polls most often open for the election of certain public officials. ...

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized."[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k (February 2003) "Constitutional Background", Kentucky Government: Informational Bulletin No. 137 (Revised). Frankfort, Kentucky: Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g (1992) "Constitutions", in Kleber, John E.: The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter, Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813117720. 
  3. ^ McQueen, Keven (2001). "William Goebel: Assassinated Governor", Offbeat Kentuckians: Legends to Lunatics, Ill. by Kyle McQueen, Kuttawa, Kentucky: McClanahan Publishing House. ISBN 0913383805. 
  4. ^ Foust, Michael (2004-04-14). Reversal: Ky. lawmakers send marriage amendment to voters. Baptist Press. Retrieved on 2007-03-08.
  5. ^ Peterson, Kavan (2004-11-03). 50-state rundown on gay marriage laws. StateLine.org. Retrieved on 2007-03-08.
  6. ^ Election 2004 - Ballot Measures. CNN.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-08.
  7. ^ Kentucky Constitution: Section 233A. Legislative Research Commission. Retrieved on 2007-03-08.

Thomas Dionysius Clark (July 14, 1903 - June 28, 2005) was perhaps Kentuckys most notable historian. ... Kuttawa is a city located in Lyon County, Kentucky. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

  • Full texts of the various versions of the Kentucky Constitution

  Results from FactBites:
Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (350 words)
The role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky were greatly altered by a 1992 amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky.
Prior to that 1992 amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky the lieutenant governor became acting governor at any time that the governor was outside of the state.
The 1992 constitutional amendment supplanted the office of President Pro Tempore of the Kentucky Senate with the new office of President of the Kentucky Senate as presiding officer and abolished the lieutenant governor's duties involving the Senate.
Kentucky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4200 words)
Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the fact that bluegrass is present in many of the lawns and pastures throughout the state.
Kentucky was a battleground during the war; the Battle of Blue Licks, one of the last major battles of the Revolution, was fought in Kentucky.
Kentucky's largest cities and most of the fast growing counties are concentrated in what is referred to as the Golden Triangle, which is almost entirely in the Bluegrass region, with the exception of Hardin, Meade and LaRue counties which are in the Pennyroyal region.
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