The Washington State Constitution

The Washington State Constitution is the official specification for our state government. It is the “supreme law of the state.” It defines the rights of the people, and specifies the plan for the operation of Washington State government, describing the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial).

The Preamble and Declaration of Rights (PDF) sections of the Washington State Constitution specifically address the rights of citizens.

The official WA Secretary of State history of the state constitution can be found here; and the official complete version of the State Constitution that includes its original text plus all edits since can be found at this site.

Because the interpretation of a state’s constitution is subject to no higher legal authority than the state’s supreme court, it is hard to overstate the importance of that function. At the same time, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the application of the Federal Constitution from the application of the state constitution. Of course, Washington Supreme Court justices must uphold both constitutions, and in some cases the Court has turned to the Federal Constitution to decide cases before examining how the state constitution might apply. The Federalist Society has prepared a white paper entitled The Washington Supreme Court and the State Constitution: A 2010 Assessment (PDF).

The Washington Attorney General’s office provides “guidance” to local jurisdictions about a number of legal issues like property rights. Our State Attorney General has prepared an Advisory Memorandum: Avoiding Unconstitutional Takings of Private Property (PDF).