The Kentucky State Constitution: A Reference Guide

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Greenwood Press, 1999 - 259 pages
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A summary of the history of the commonwealth's constitution-making and a section-by-section analysis of the current constitution of the State of Kentucky. Discussion of the history and purpose of each section, together with leading judicial interpretations, enables readers to understand a document that has become the source of rights not found in the federal constitution.

Kentuckians have written four constitutions since statehood commenced in 1792. Drafters of the first charter borrowed heavily from the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790, but the writers of subsequent documents drew substantially from the experiences of state government. The delegates to the convention which wrote the current Constitution especially responded to perceived deficiencies of the legislature, which was regarded as incapable or unwilling to remedy some of the most serious problems facing the commonwealth. For that reason the drafters inserted in the charter specific legislative mandates and prohibitions in a detail that more resembled a statutory code than a constitution. This specificity might have undermined the utility of the constitution in a modern society had not the framers also provided an amendment process that has allowed essential streamlining and modernizing. Ironically, the oldest part of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, has been the source of some of the boldest judicial interpretations that have fashioned rights not recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in the federal Constitution.

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About the author (1999)

ROBERT M. IRELAND is Professor of History at the University of Kentucky. /e

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