The Rhode Island State Constitution: A Reference Guide


The historical evolution of the Rhode Island Constitution is outlined in this comprehensive volume. Each section of the Rhode Island Consitiution is analyzed completely. The authors also offer a detalied historigraphical essay as a guide to further research and study. Any student and practitioner of Rhode Island constitutional development will understand the importance of such a thorough study.

Unlike any other reference guides, the unique historical analysis of the constitution...

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The historical evolution of the Rhode Island Constitution is outlined in this comprehensive volume. Each section of the Rhode Island Consitiution is analyzed completely. The authors also offer a detalied historigraphical essay as a guide to further research and study. Any student and practitioner of Rhode Island constitutional development will understand the importance of such a thorough study.

Unlike any other reference guides, the unique historical analysis of the constitution bridges the gap between past, present, and future law. From the Royal Charter of 1663, through the Constitution of 1986, Flanders and Conley navigate through the law to paint an extensive picture of Rhode Island's interesting history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[D]elves into history, cites and indexes hundreds of state and federal Supreme Court decisions, critiques rulings, evaluates the state's contribution to America's legal system, and suggests changes for the future."


The Providence Journal

"By American standards Rhode Island has a long history of constitutional governance. Beginning in 1636, Rhode Island colonial or independent constitutions have been shaped by revolution, nation-building, tumult, Republican control in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Democratic control in the middle to late years of the twentieth century, and further changes wrought by everything from neoliberalism to gay rights. The result has been living document reflecting, at various times, strict religious liberty but also suppression of the right to vote. Conley and Flanders, a former associate justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court now in private practice, describe the fascinating history of Rhode Island's constitutional choices and an article-by-article analysis of the document as it now reads."


Reference & Research Book News

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Product Details

Meet the Author

PATRICK T. CONLEY was Professor of History and Constitutional Law at Providence College for thirty years. He is an attorney in Rhode Island and has handled more than forty Supreme Court appeals since 1979. Conley was a research advisor to the Constitutional Convention and was a draftsman and sponsor of present Article XIV and Article IV, Section 9. He holds a doctorate in History from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Suffolk University.

ROBERT G. FLANDERS JR. is a former Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, where he served for eight years before returning to the private practice of law in 2004. He is a partner in the Providence-based law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, LLP. He serves as an Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at Brown University, where he teaches Constitutional Law, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University, where he teaches courses on the Judicial Process. Judge Flanders is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword   G. Alan Tarr     xi
Preface     xiii
Acknowledgments     xv
Rhode Island Constitutional Development, 1636-2006     1
The Colonial Era: to 1763     3
The Revolutionary Era: 1764-1790     13
The Early National Period: 1790-1840     16
The Dorr Rebellion and Its Aftermath: 1841-1854     21
The Republican Ascendancy: 1854-1935     24
The Bloodless Revolution and Its Aftermath: 1935-1939     28
The Democratic Ascendancy: 1940-1985     30
The Modern Era: 1986-2006     35
The Rhode Island Constitution and Commentary     45
Preamble     47
Declaration of Certain Constitutional Rights and Principles     49
Right to make and alter the constitution-Constitution obligatory upon all     50
Laws for good of the whole-Burdens to be equally distributed-Due process-Equal protection-Discrimination-No right to abortion granted     51
Freedom of religion     58
Slavery prohibited     64
Entitlement to remedies for injuries and wrongs-Right to justice     66
Search and seizure     69
Requirement of presentment or indictment-Double jeopardy     70
Bail, fines, andpunishments     72
Right to bail-Habeas corpus     75
Rights of accused in criminal cases     78
Relief of debtors from prison     82
Ex post facto laws-Laws impairing the obligation of contract     83
Self-incrimination     85
Presumption of innocence-Securing accused persons     88
Trial by jury     90
Compensation for taking private property for public use-Regulation of fishery rights and shore privileges not a public taking     93
Fishery rights-Privileges of the shore-Conservation of natural resources-Preservation of the natural environment     102
Subordination of the military to civil authority     110
Quartering of soldiers     112
Freedom of the press     113
Right to assemble and petition-Freedom of speech     114
Right to bear arms     115
Rights of victims of crime     116
Rights not enumerated-State rights not dependent on federal rights     117
Of Suffrage     121
Persons entitled to vote     121
Nominations, voter registration, and voting procedures     127
Of Qualification for Office     129
Civil office-Qualified electors     129
Disqualification upon conviction or plea of nolo contendere-Requalification following sentence, probation, or parole     131
Oath of general officers     133
Oath of General Assembly members, judges, and other officers     134
Method of administering the oath of office     134
Holding of offices under other governments-Senators and representatives not to hold other appointed offices under state government     134
Ethical conduct     138
Ethics commission-Code of ethics     138
Of Elections and Campaign Finance     141
Election and terms of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, general treasurer, and General Assembly members-Recall     141
Election by plurality     143
Filling vacancy by the General Assembly when elected officers cannot serve-Election when there is no plurality     145
Temporary appointment to fill vacancies in the office of secretary of state, attorney general, or general treasurer     146
Special elections to fill General Assembly vacancies     146
Elections in grand committee-Majority vote-Term of elected official     147
Elections in grand committee-Quorum-Permitted activities     147
Voter registration lists     148
Reports of campaign contributions and expenses     148
Limitations on campaign contributions-Public financing of campaign expenditures of general officers     149
Of the Distribution of Powers     151
Of the Legislative Power     161
Constitution the supreme law of the state     161
Power vested in the General Assembly-Concurrence of houses required to enact laws-Style of laws     167
Sessions of the General Assembly-Compensation of General Assembly members and officers     170
Restriction on General Assembly members' activities as counsel     172
Immunities of General Assembly members     177
Election and qualification of General Assembly members-Quorum and organization of houses     178
Rules of the houses-Contempt     180
House journals     180
Adjournment of houses     181
Residual powers (repealed in 2005)     182
Vote required to pass local or private appropriations     186
Property valuations for tax assessments     188
Continuance in office until successors qualify     189
General corporation laws     189
Lotteries     192
Borrowing power of the General Assembly     195
Borrowing in anticipation of receipts     198
Redevelopment powers     199
Taking of property for highways, streets, places, parks, or parkways      200
Local off-street parking facilities     202
Emergency powers in case of enemy attack     202
Referendum on the expansion of gambling     203
Of the House of Representatives     205
Composition     205
Officers-Presiding member during organization     209
Of the Senate     211
Composition and apportionment     211
Lieutenant governor to be presiding officer until 2003     216
Presiding officer in absence of lieutenant governor (repealed)     216
Secretary of state to be secretary of the senate (repealed)     217
Of the Executive Power     219
Power vested in the governor     219
Faithful execution of laws     220
Captain general and commander in chief of military and navy     221
Reprieves     222
Powers of appointment     222
Adjournment of the General Assembly     224
Convening of special sessions of the General Assembly     224
Commissions and the state seal     225
Vacancy in the office of the governor     225
Vacancies in offices of both the governor and lieutenant governor     226
Compensation of the governor and lieutenant governor      227
Powers and duties of the secretary of state, attorney general, and general treasurer     227
Pardons     229
Veto power of governor-Veto overrides by General Assembly-Acts effective without action by the governor     230
State budget     231
Limitation on state spending     232
Budget reserve account     233
Of the Judicial Power     235
Power vested in the courts     235
Jurisdiction of the supreme and inferior courts-Quorum of the supreme court     240
Advisory opinions by the supreme court     244
Judicial selection     247
Tenure of supreme court justices     249
Compensation for justices of the supreme court     249
Wardens and justices of the peace     250
Of Impeachments     251
Power of impeachment by the House     251
Impeachment trial by the senate     251
Governor, executive officers, judges liable to impeachment-Grounds for impeachment     251
Of Education     255
Duty of the General Assembly to promote public schools and public libraries and to secure opportunities for education     255
Perpetual school fund     255
Educational donations     255
Implementation of this article-Diversion of funds prohibited     255
Home Rule for Cities and Towns     261
Right of self-government in local matters     261
Local power to adopt home rule charter in conformity with reserved powers of the General Assembly     261
Every city and town shall have a legislative body     261
General laws apply to all cities and towns but shall not affect the form of government-Special acts need approval of local electors     261
Local taxing and borrowing power only as authorized by the General Assembly     262
Procedures for the adoption of a home rule charter     262
Vote on charter adoption     262
Amendments to a home rule charter     262
Filing of charter petition with local legislative body     263
Certification of charter adoption     263
No diminution of the power of the judiciary     263
Constitutional Amendments and Revisions     273
Amendment process     273
Procedures for the call of a constitutional convention     273
General Transition     277
What remains in full force and effect     277
What continues to be valid     277
All officers to continue the duties of their office     277
Implementing legislation required      277
Bibliographical Essay     279
Table of Cases     309
Index     323
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