Two Constitutions: A Comparison

The U.S. and Texas Constitutions have some similarities:

  • Both include the principles of representative democratic government, in which authority comes from the people.
  • Both contain a bill of rights that protects civil liberties from the government.
  • Both establish a two-house legislature with a House of Representatives and a Senate.
  • Both have a system of checks and balances and separation of powers between legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
  • Both divide government power between upper and lower levels of government.
  • The two constitutions are also very different. The U.S. Constitution increases government power, because the earlier government was too decentralized and not powerful enough. The Texas Constitution limits government action.

    Length and Language

    The U.S. Constitution is brief and vague, which allows a broad interpretation. Specific civil liberties in the U.S. Constitution are listed in amendments known as the Bill of Rights.

    The Texas Constitution is long, detailed, and lists what the government is allowed to do. When public policy challenges arise, Texas officials cannot interpret the constitution. Instead, they must amend it. The very first article of the Texas Constitution is a Bill of Rights.

    The Executive Branch

    The U.S. Constitution concentrates executive power in the president. The Texas Constitution creates a plural executive that shares executive power across multiple elected offices.

    The Texas Constitution allows the governor to veto specific items contained within budget appropriations bills passed by the legislature. The U.S. Supreme Court argues that the line-item veto is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

    The Legislative Branch

    The U.S. Constitution does not limit tax and spending policies. The Texas Constitution lists detailed restrictions that limit what state legislators are actually allowed to write into law.

    The Judicial Branch

    The federal judiciary is simple and orderly, with three levels of courts – district courts, appeals courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. All federal judges are appointed, not elected, and Supreme Court justices serve for life. In contrast, the Texas judiciary is complicated, with six types of courts, some of which overlap. Texas judges are elected to their seats.

    Amendment Process

    The U.S. Constitution is difficult to amend, but the document’s structure makes frequent amendments unnecessary. In contrast, the Texas Constitution is relatively easy to amend. While it is difficult to propose a constitutional amendment, once a proposal is approved by the legislature, it passes relatively simply. Amendments are frequent.

    Source: Two Constitutions: A Comparison
    Courtesy Dallas Learning Cloud

    Back to top