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Length of State Constitutions

State constitutions are quite long. The shortest is that of Vermont, which contains 8,419 words, about 2,000 more than the federal Constitution. The longest is that of Louisiana, with 184,053 words. The average of the forty eight present constitutions is about 27,000 words, or four times as many as the federal text.

There are several reasons for the length of State constitutions.

One reason is the increased number of services that States have been called upon to render. Another cause is that influential citizens often lack confidence in their legislatures. In principle, the legislature is the ultimate repository of the reserved powers of the State. A final cause for the length of State constitutions is as precautions against a possible ruling by a State court that the silence of the constitution regarding a power in effect denies it to the government.


Inside Length of State Constitutions