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Alabama Dept. of Archives & History

P.O. Box 300100 / 624 Washington Ave.

Montgomery, AL 36130



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Alabama Constitution


The Constitution of the State of Alabama is the basic governing document of the U.S. state of Alabama. It was adopted in 1901 and is the sixth constitution that the state has had. The first established in 1819 (Converting Alabama Territory into a State), 1861 (Secession), 1865 (Reconstruction), 1868 (Ending reconstruction), 1875, and the current 1901 constitution.


At 340,136 words, the document is 12 times longer than the average state constitution, 40 times longer than the U.S. Constitution, and is the longest still-operative constitution anywhere in the world.


About 90 percent of the document's length, as of 2012, comes from its 856 amendments. About 75 percent of the amendments cover only a single county or city, and some deal with salaries of specific officials. This gives Alabama a large number of constitutional officers.


The Preamble runs:

We the people of the State of Alabama, in order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution and form of government for the State of Alabama.


The document has been heavily criticized for discriminatory elements, many of which have been made moot by amendments to the federal constitution or United States Supreme Court decisions.


The President of the Constitutional Convention, John B. Knox, stated in his inaugural address that the intention of the convention was "to establish white supremacy in this State", "within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution" (Day 2 of 54). Section 181 required the use of literacy tests to enroll voters, while Section 180 grandfathered in anyone who served in the military, or descended from them; these have since been outlawed by the Voting Rights Act. Section 194 required the payment of 1.50 USD poll tax (Worth approximately 37.74 USD by CPI).


Originally the Constitution outlawed interracial marriage (Section 102), but this provision was rendered inoperative by Loving v. Virginia in 1967 and finally removed in 2000 by Amendment 667.


The constitution still requires racially segregated education in the state (Section 256). Section 256 states that "separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race." Although this provision has not been enforced since the 1960s, the continued existence of these provisions is seen by many as an embarrassment to the state. In 2004 and 2012, ballot measures were put before the electorate to remove this language from the constitution; on each occasion the proposal was rejected, first over concerns that removing the clause would also result in expanding funding for the education system and in later referendums over concerns of allowing further cuts in education. Nearly all organizations opposing the repeal of the segregation measure pointed to a provision stating that the state did not provide a right to a state financed education. Groups opposing the repeal of this amendment claimed that repeal would lead to court decisions requiring the state to raise taxes.


Section 177 denied women the right to vote by confining voting rights to "male citizens," but this was rendered unenforceable by the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution until Amendment 579 was substituted, which contained no reference to gender.


Section 182 disqualified from registering and voting all "idiots and insane persons," men who interracially married, and those convicted of "crime against nature" (homosexuality).