History

California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments

T h e o r i g i n a l o f t h i s d o c u m e n t i s i n :

C a l i f o r n i a S t a t e A r c h i v e s 1 0 2 0 “ O ” S t r e e t S a c r a m e n t o C A 9 5 8 1 4

CONSTITUTION OF THE

STATE OF CALIFORNIA.

ADOPTED IN CONVENTION, AT SACRAMENTO, MARCH THIRD, EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY—NINE; RATIFIED BY A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE ON WEDNESDAY; MAY SEVENTH, EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY—NINE.

PREAMBLE AND DECLARATION OF RIGHTS.

PREAMBLE.

WE, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.

ARTICLE I. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS.

SECTION 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness. SEC. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. SEC. 3. The State of California is an inseparable part of the American Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.

California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments

SEC. 4. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be guaranteed in this State; and no person shall be rendered incompetent to be a witness or juror on account of his opinions on matters of religious belief; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this State. SEC. 5. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require its suspension. SEC. 6. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor shall cruel or unusual punishments be inflicted. Witnesses shall not be unreasonably detained, nor confined in any room where criminals are actually imprisoned. SEC. 7. The right of trial by jury shall be secured to all, and remain inviolate; but in civil actions three fourths of the jury may render a verdict. A trial by jury may be waived in all criminal cases, not amounting to felony, by the consent of both parties, expressed in open Court, and in civil actions by the consent of the parties, signified in such manner as may be prescribed by law. In civil actions, and cases of misdemeanor, the jury may consist of twelve, or of any number less than twelve upon which the parties may agree in open Court. SEC. 8. Offenses heretofore required to be prosecuted by indictment shall be prosecuted by information, after examination and commitment by a Magistrate, or by indictment, with or without such examination and commitment, as may be prescribed by law. A grand jury shall be drawn and summoned at least once a year in each county. SEC. 9. Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments, on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions for libels, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; 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; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact. Indictments found, or information laid, for publications in newspapers shall be tried in the county where

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California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments

such newspapers have their publication office, or in the county where the party alleged to be libeled resided at the time of the alleged publication, unless the place of trial shall be changed for good cause.

SEC. 10. The people shall have the right to freely assemble together to consult for the common good, to instruct their Representatives, and to petition the Legislature for redress of grievances.

SEC. 11. All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation. SEC. 12. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power. No standing

army shall be kept up by this State in time of peace, and no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, except in the manner prescribed by law.

SEC, 13. In criminal prosecutions, in any Court whatever, the party accused shall

have the right to a speedy and public trial; to have the process of the Court to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf, and to appear and defend, in person and with counsel. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense; nor be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Legislature shall have power to provide for the taking, in the presence of the party accused and his counsel, of depositions of witnesses in criminal cases, other than cases of homicide, when there is reason to believe that the witness, from inability or other cause, will not attend at the trial.

SEC. 14. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without

just compensation having been first made to, or paid into Court for, the owner, and no right of way shall be appropriated to the use of any corporation other than municipal until full compensation therefor be first made in money or ascertained and paid into Court for the owner, irrespective of any benefit from any improvement proposed by such corporation, which compensation shall be ascertained by a jury, unless a jury be waived, as in other civil cases in a Court of record, as shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 15. No person shall be imprisoned for debt in any civil action, on mesne or final process, unless in cases of fraud, nor in civil actions for torts, except in cases of willful injury to person or property; and no person shall be imprisoned for a militia fine in time of peace. SEC. 16. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of

contracts, shall ever be passed.

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California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments

SEC. 17. Foreigners of the white race or of African descent, eligible to become

citizens of the United States under the naturalization laws thereof, while bona fide residents of this State, shall have the same rights in respect to the acquisition, possession, enjoyment, transmission, and inheritance of property as native-born citizens.

SEC. 18. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this State.

SEC. 19. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,

and effects, against unreasonable seizures and searches, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized.

SEC. 20. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, adhering to its enemies, or giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the evidence of two witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open Court.

SEC. 21. No special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted which may not be altered, revoked, or repealed by the Legislature; nor shall any citizen, or class of citizens, be granted privileges or immunities which, upon the same terms, shall not be granted to all citizens.

SEC. 22. The provisions of this Constitution are mandatory and prohibitory,

unless by express words they are declared to be otherwise. SEC. 23. This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny

others retained by the people.

SEC. 24. No property qualification shall ever be required for any person to vote or hold office.

ARTICLE II. RIGHT OF SUFFRAGE.

SECTION 1. Every native male citizen of the United States, every male person

who shall have acquired the rights of citizenship under or by virtue of the treaty of Queretaro, and every male naturalized citizen thereof, who shall have become such ninety days prior to any election, of the age of twenty-one years, who shall have been a resident of the State one year next preceding the election, and of the county

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California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments

in which he claims his vote ninety days, and in the election precinct thirty days, shall be entitled to vote at all elections which are now or may hereafter be authorized by law; provided, no native of China, no idiot, insane person, or person convicted of any infamous crime, and no person hereafter convicted of the embezzlement or misappropriation of public money, shall ever exercise the privileges of an elector in this State.

SEC. 2. Electors shall in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the

peace, be privileged from arrest on the days of election, during their attendance at such election, going to and returning therefrom.

SEC. 3. No elector shall be obliged to perform militia duty on the day of election,

except in time of war or public danger. SEC. 4. For the purpose of voting, no person shall be deemed to have gained or

lost a residence by reason of his presence or absence while employed in the service of the United States, nor while engaged in the navigation of the waters of this State, or of the United States, or of the high seas; nor while a student at any seminary of learning; nor while kept at any alms-house or other asylum, at public expense; nor while confined in any public prison.

SEC. 5. All elections by the people shall be by ballot.

ARTICLE III. DISTRIBUTION OF POWERS.

SECTION 1. The powers of the Government of the State of California shall be

divided into three separate departments—the legislative, executive, and judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except as in this Constitution expressly directed or permitted.

ARTICLE IV. LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT.

SECTION 1. The legislative power of this State shall be vested in a Senate and

Assembly, which shall be designated The Legislature of the State of California, and the enacting clause of every law shall be as follows: “The People of the State of California, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows.”

SEC. 2. The sessions of the Legislature shall commence at twelve o’clock M. on

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