The Constitution Of
The Great State Of Tennessee
Constitution of the state of
The 1835 document
stood until 1870, five years after the ending of the War Between the States.
Delegates elected in December, 1869, met in
constitution stood unchanged until 1953, when it was first amended.
amendments followed in 1960, 1966, 1972, 1978, 1998, and 2003.
and Declaration of Rights
people of the territory of the
General Assembly of the said state of
The General Assembly of said state of
people of the state, in the mode provided by said Act, have called said
convention, and elected delegates to represent them therein; now therefore,
Section 21. That no man’s
particular services shall be demanded, or property taken, or applied to public
use, without the consent of his representatives, or without just compensation
being made therefore.
Section 31. That the limits and
boundaries of this state be ascertained, it is declared they are as hereafter
mentioned, that is to say: Beginning on the extreme height of the Stone
Mountain, at the place where the line of Virginia intersects it, in latitude
thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north; running thence along the extreme
height of the said mountain, to the place where Watauga river breaks through it;
thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain, where Bright’s road
crosses the same; thence along the ridge of said mountain, between the waters of
Doe river and the waters of Rock creek, to the place where the road crosses the
Iron Mountain; from thence along the extreme height of said mountain, to the
place where Nolichucky river runs through the same; thence to the top of the
Bald Mountain; thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the Painted
Rock on French Broad river; thence along the highest ridge of said mountain, to
the place where it is called the Great Iron or Smoky Mountain; thence along the
extreme height of said mountain to the place
it is called Unicoi or Unaka Mountain, between the Indian towns of Cowee and Old
Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said mountain to the southern boundary
of this state, as described in the act of cession of North Carolina to the
United States of America; and that all the territory, lands and waters lying
west of said line, as before mentioned, and contained within the chartered
limits of the state of North Carolina, are within the boundaries and limits of
this state, over which the people have the right of exercising sovereignty, and
the right of soil, so far as is consistent with the Constitution of the United
States, recognizing the Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights and
Constitution of North Carolina, the cession act of the said state, and the
ordinance of Congress for the government of the territory north west of Ohio;
Provided, nothing herein contained shall extend to affect the claim or claims of
individuals to any part of the soil which is recognized to them by the aforesaid
cession act; And provided also, that the limits and jurisdiction of this state
shall extend to any other land and territory now acquired, or that may hereafter
be acquired, by compact or agreement with other states, or otherwise, although
such land and territory are not included within the boundaries herein before
Section 8. Legislative sessions—Governor’s inauguration—the General Assembly shall meet in organizational session on the second Tuesday in January next succeeding the election of the members of the House of Representatives, at which session, if in order, the governor shall be inaugurated. The General Assembly shall remain in session for organizational purposes not longer than fifteen consecutive calendar days, during which session no legislation shall be passed on third and final consideration. Thereafter, the General Assembly shall meet on the first Tuesday next following the conclusion of the organizational session unless the General Assembly by joint resolution of both houses sets an earlier date.
Section 14. Each House may punish, by
imprisonment, during its session, any person not a member, who shall be guilty
of disrespect to the House, by any disorderly or any contemptuous behavior in
(a) When twelve months or more remain
prior to the next general election for legislators, a successor shall be elected
by the qualified voters of the district represented, and such successor shall
serve the remainder of the original terms. The election shall be held within
such time as provided by law. The legislative body of the replaced
legislator’s county of residence at the time of his or her election may elect
an interim successor to serve until the election.
(b) When less than twelve months
remain prior to the next general election for legislators, a successor shall be
elected by the legislative body of the replaced legislator’s county of
residence at the time of his or her election. The term of any senator so elected
shall expire at the next general election for legislators, at which election a
successor shall be elected.
Section 20. The style of the laws of
this state shall be, “Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of
Tennessee.” No law of a general nature shall take effect until forty days
after its passage unless the same or the caption thereof shall state that the
public welfare requires that it should take effect sooner.
This amendment shall take effect
immediately upon adoption so that any member of the General Assembly elected at
a general election wherein this amendment is approved shall be entitled to the
compensation set herein.
Section 24. No public money shall be
expended except pursuant to appropriations made by law. Expenditures for any
fiscal year shall not exceed the state’s revenues and reserves, including the
proceeds of any debt obligation, for that year. No debt obligation, except as
shall be repaid within the fiscal year of issuance, shall be authorized for the
current operation of any state service or program, nor shall the proceeds of any
debt obligation be expended for a purpose other than that for which it was
In no year shall the rate of growth
of appropriations from state tax revenues exceed the estimated rate of growth of
the state’s economy as determined by law. No appropriation in excess of this
limitation shall be made unless the General Assembly shall, by law containing no
other subject matter, set forth the dollar amount and the rate by which the
limit will be exceeded.
Any law requiring the expenditure of
state funds shall be null and void unless, during the session in which the act
receives final passage, an appropriation is made for the estimated first
An accurate financial statement of
the state’s fiscal condition shall be published annually.
Section 28. In accordance with the
following provisions, all property real, personal or mixed shall be subject to
taxation, but the Legislature may except such as may be held by the state, by
counties, cities or towns, and used exclusively for public or corporation
purposes, and such as may be held and used for purposes purely religious,
charitable, scientific, literary or educational, and shall except the direct
product of the soil in the hands of the producer, and his immediate vendee, and
the entire amount of money deposited in an individual’s personal or family
checking or savings accounts. For purposes of taxation, property shall be
classified into three classes, to wit: Real Property, Tangible Personal Property
and Intangible Personal Property.
The Legislature shall have power to
tax merchants, peddlers, and privileges, in such manner as they may from time to
time direct, and the Legislature may levy a gross receipts tax on merchants and
businesses in lieu of ad valorem taxes on the inventories of merchandise held by
such merchants and businesses for sale or exchange. The portion of a
merchant’s capital used in the purchase of merchandise sold by him to
nonresidents and sent beyond the state, shall not be taxed at a rate higher than
the ad valorem tax on property. The Legislature shall have power to levy a tax
upon incomes derived from stocks and bonds that are not taxed ad valorem.
Section 4. In all elections to be made by the General Assembly, the members thereof shall vote viva voce, and their votes shall be entered on the journal. All other elections shall be by ballot.
Section 12. All writs and other
process shall run in the name of the state of Tennessee and bear test and be
signed by the respective clerks. Indictments shall conclude, “against the
peace and dignity of the state.”
and County Officers.
No officeholder’s current term
shall be diminished by the ratification of this article.
Bribery of Electors, New Counties.
Any municipality may by ordinance
submit to its qualified voters in a general or special election the question:
“Shall this municipality adopt home rule?”
In the event any vacancy shall occur
in the office of either of said judges at any time after the first day of
January one thousand eight hundred seventy three; it shall remain unfilled and
the court shall from that time be constituted of five judges. While the court
shall consist of six judges they may sit in two sections, and may hear and
determine causes in each at the same time, but not in different grand divisions
at the same time.
The attorney general and reporter for
the state shall be appointed after the election and qualification of the judges
of the Supreme Court herein provided
first day of January one thousand eight
hundred and sixty seven shall not be computed, in any cases affected by the
statutes of limitation, nor shall any writ of error be affected by such lapse of