State Constitutions: Current, Historical, and How They Change


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This was a presentation for the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries, presented on July 14, 2013.

The presenters were Ashley Ahlbrand, Jennifer Morgan, and Cindy Dabney of Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. Michelle Cosby, of North Carolina Central University School of Law, moderated.

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State Constitutions: Current, Historical, and How They Change

  1. 1. Morgan, speaker Dabney, speaker Ahlbrand, speaker Cosby, moderator STATE CONSTITUTIONS CURRENT, HISTORICAL, & HOW THEY CHANGE
  2. 2. Ashley Ahlbrand Educational Technology Librarian •Researches emerging technology in legal education •Implements technology-related projects •Teaches LRW •Ask her about her dog!
  3. 3. AGENDA Locating State Constitutions: Current, Historical Researching State Constitutional Amendment Processes: Culmination: Research Guide on State Constitutions → Legislative Proposal → Revision Commission → Constitutional Convention → Initiative Petition
  4. 4. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL TEXT Statutory codes Annotated - In Print - In Databases - LexisNexis Academic - Lexis, Westlaw & Bloomberg - On State Websites Wisconsin Alaska Official State Websites - Text by article - Indiana, - Illinois, - Ohio, - Text in entirety - Washington
  5. 5.  NBER/Maryland State Constitutions Project  Research Guides  State Websites HISTORICAL RESEARCH • Sources and Documents of United States Constitutions (Swindler) • Publications on individual states Print Electronic
  6. 6. SECONDARY SOURCES  Reference Guides to the State Constitutions of The United States  Book of the States (Council of State Governments)  Online and in print
  7. 7. SECONDARY SOURCES LawJournals • Topical •ex: William & Mary’s Bill of Rights Journal • State-Centric •ex: Washington Law Review Indexes& Full-TextDatabases • Index to Legal Periodicals • LegalTrac • Hein Online • Lexis & Westlaw • LexisNexis Academic StateBibliographies •GD-SIS State Bibliographies •Spinelli’s Law Librarians’ Reference Shelf (HeinOnline)
  8. 8. WHAT ELSE TO CONSIDER? State Bar Journals •Resource: HeinOnline Bar Journals Library News Sources •ex: LexisNexis Academic, ProQuest Historical Newspapers Blogs •Constitutional Law Prof Blog •BlawgSearch > Constitutional Law Blogs
  9. 9. Jennifer Morgan Documents Librarian •Specializes in researching Government Information •Teaches LRW, ALR, Gov Docs, everywhere and all. the. time. •Government Documents crusader and LibGuides enthusiast
  10. 10. RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS Legislative Proposal Revision Commission Constitutional Convention Initiative Petition
  11. 11. Indiana Constitution Legislative Proposal RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS
  12. 12. Published in Indiana Acts Legislative Proposal RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS
  13. 13. LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENTS Session Laws Legislative Journals Bills & Resolutions Committee Records Policy & Interim Study Committees
  14. 14. Where to Find Session Laws Libraries 1816 to current in print, Law Library (IU Maurer School of Law) Session Laws -- [name of state] (subject search) Official Legislative Websites Indiana General Assembly website, 2000 to current Noncode acts, 1807 to current, incomplete HeinOnline Session Law Library Session laws for all 50 U.S. states Current within 60 days of the printed publication and date back to inception SESSION LAWS
  15. 15. LEGISLATIVE JOURNALS Legislative Journal Indexes • Subject matter • Table of Contents • Membership and sponsor information, including committees and roll calls • Summaries of bills and resolutions • Chronological histories of bills and resolutions • Vetoed Bills • Proposed constitutional amendments • Synopses of legislative action
  16. 16. LEGISLATIVE JOURNALS Where to Find Legislative Journals Libraries Law Library (IU Maurer School of Law) House Journal (1827- 1828; 1857-current) Senate Journal (1928- current, incomplete) Legislative Journals – [name of state] Official Legislative Websites Indiana General Assembly House Journal (2004-current) Senate Journal (2005-current) Historical Digitized A collection of nineteenth century Indiana legislative journals from the Indiana State Library is accessible from the Internet Archive
  17. 17. BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS Introduced Bill Amendments Engrossed Bill Enrolled Act
  18. 18. BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS Where to Find Bills & Resolutions Libraries Law Library (IU Maurer School of Law) > 1951 to current in print Bills, Legislative--[name of state] (subject search) State Legislative Body Websites Free access to all full text bills & resolutions from current legislative session Indiana General Assembly > bill text and tracking back to 1999 Free 50-state bill text & tracking databases,, Search, browse, track, and update The Usual Suspects Lexis Westlaw BloombergLaw
  19. 19. LEGISLATIVE PROCESS & COMMITTEE RECORDS Testimony Hearing Transcripts Reports Debate Votes
  20. 20. LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE RECORDS Testimony Hearings Transcripts Reports Debate Votes Where to Find Committee Records Indiana General Assembly  Washington State Legislature  Topical Index for Joint Resolutions Detailed Legislative Reports - Bill Summary All States Manz. Guide to State Legislation, Legislative History, and Administrative Materials Research Guides! State Legislative History Research Guides: An index of state legislatures and online legislative history research guides
  21. 21. COMMITTEE RECORDS WHAT ELSE TO CONSIDER? Digital Collections • Brevier Legislative Reports (Indiana) • House and Senate, transcripts of debates and speeches, 1858 to 1887 • Georgia Legislative Documents • Acts & Resolutions 1799- 1999 • FDLP Digitization Projects Registry, an additional resource for discovering digitized state documents Audio & Video • Indiana General Assembly • Live Streaming • House Video Archive • Senate Video Archive • Ways and Means Committee Archive • Interim Study Committees and Commissions video • Check individual interim committee pages for links to view video of interim committee meetings
  22. 22. POLICY OR INTERIM STUDY COMMITTEES Indiana General Assembly Website • Current Interim Study Committees • Interim Archives (dating back to 1998) Party or Caucus Websites • Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus • Indiana Senate Republican Caucus • Indiana House Democrats • Indiana House Republicans • Audio and video files of Interim Committee meetings, presentations, member statements, and press opportunities • The Briefing Room (Indiana Senate Democrat’s blog)
  23. 23. Cindy Dabney Outreach Services Librarian •Teaches LRW •Blogger and videographer •Liaises outside the Law School •Ask her about Leopold Loeb!
  24. 24. RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS Constitutional Convention States that don't provide for conventions •Indiana •Arizona •New Jersey •Arkansas •Mississippi •Texas •Vermont
  25. 25. RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS Where to Find Records of Constitutional Conventions --- Journals and Proceedings State Constitutional Conventions, Commissions, and Amendments, 1776- 1988 Search Library Catalog for print holdings Constitutional history Indiana (in subject) Constitutional Conventions—[state] [State]—Constitutional Convention—[year] Digitized, available online Indiana Maryland Pennsylvania Constitution Web Page, Duquesne University School of Law
  26. 26. RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS Where to Find Revision Commission Documents Current and Regular Revision Commissions Florida Constitution Revision Commission - Dictated by Florida Constitution Alabama Law Institute Digitized or Archived Collections Ohio California Idaho South Dakota Library Catalogs IUCAT WorldCat HathiTrust
  27. 27. RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS Amendment by Initiative Petition Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi Florida, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota
  28. 28. Initiative Process in California •Writing the Amendment Text •Request for title •Estimate impact on revenues or costs to government •Approval for Circulation •Circulation Period, etc. •Public Hearings Search for Documents • Text of proposed amendment • Drafting documents from Legislative Counsel, Attorney General, Secretary of State • Ballot title and summary • Fiscal Analysis • Record or Transcripts of Hearings • Official ballot statements or pamphlets • Newspaper materials RESEARCHING AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS Amendment by Initiative Petition • Ohio • California
  29. 29. Request for Title: California Initiative Amendment
  30. 30. Summary and Title from Attorney General: California Initiative Amendment Fiscal Impact Estimate: California Initiative Amendment
  31. 31. Circulating Petition: California Initiative Amendment Circulating Pamphlets: California Initiative Amendment (not “official” – circulated by advocacy groups, etc.)
  32. 32. Secondary Sources for Information on Ballot Initiatives: Blogs, Newspapers, etc.
  34. 34. State Constitutions 50-STATE RESEARCH GUIDE
  35. 35. QUESTIONS? Ashley Ahlbrand Jennifer Morgan Cindy Dabney