The History of Missouriís Constitution

Commentary by Kerry Messer

President of Missouri Family Network and
Political Advisor to the St. Louis MetroVoice

Written in only 38 days, Missouriís first and conservatively short Constitution was completed in 1820.

This first version included provisions for modification but did not foresee the need for the sweeping changes of a Constitutional Convention. The amending process was limited to proposals initiated within the General Assembly, yet ratified by the citizenry.

Four times throughout the remainder of the 1800ís the Missouri General Assembly passed legislation placing a convention question on the statewide ballot. They wanted the voters to decide for themselves if the peopleís primary governing document should be redrafted. Twice rejected, Missouri citizens did approve Constitutional Conventions to revise their Constitution in 1865 and again in 1875.

Along the path of Missouriís history, the Constitution was greatly impacted by an early 1900ís provision that granted the voting public direct access to the amendment process through citizens initiative.

The New Constitution Association of Missouri, a private citizens group, collected signatures using the citizens initiative process in 1920. This group succeeded in placing a convention question on the August 1921 ballot. They were also the ones responsible for amending the Missouri Constitution with the provision that a convention question would be placed on the general election ballot every twenty years thereafter.

In 1942 the voters of Missouri adopted the call for a Constitutional Convention. The Convention was convened and a newly revised constitution was written in 1943-44. This updated charter was adopted by the State in 1945 and serves as Missouriís current Constitution in 2002.

According to Constitutional guidelines, the convention question was submitted to voters via the statewide ballot box in both 1962 and again in 1982. Both times it was rejected and the 1945 Constitution remains.

Almost Sixty amendments have been made to the peopleís Constitution since it was approved in 1945. Yet the document stands tall. Over the final decade of the twentieth century and up through 2002, more amendments to the Constitution, proposed by both the State Legislature and citizens initiative, have had their adoption rejected at the citizenís ballot box than have been approved.

Missouriís Constitution has served us well since 1820. It serves every citizen of the state. It protects every individual. It gives order and structure to Missouriís governing bodies. It defends commerce and industry. It shields private property. Missouriís Constitution does much more than the average person ever gives thought to. It certainly does not need to be rewritten by post-modern liberals!

Our Constitution is what makes this state among fifty, "The Great State of Missouri".

Every Missourian should be proud of our Constitution. Every Missourian should be committed to defending our Constitution. Every Missourian should be in prayer for our Constitution!