Public Administration Paper on The U.S and Texas Constitutions

The U.S and Texas Constitutions

The United States federal and Texas Constitutions are relatively similar documents considering that they both express the principles of governance as outlined in a representative democracy that asserts sovereignty to be emanating from the people. For example, both constitutions contain the Bill of Rights that protects civil liberties from infringement by the government. Additional similarities include the existence of a bicameral legislature and a system of checks and balances for the three arms of government (Brown et al., 2015). In the United States Constitution, the federal government is superior to state ones while in the Texas constitution, the state government is superior to county ones. The Texas constitution derives its central principles of governance from the United States Constitution. The two documents express and respect the popular sovereignty, representative democracy, separation of powers through an established system of checks and balances and the establishment of a limited government despite these similarities; the two constitutions are relatively different (Rhodes, 2014). From the differences, it is evident that the two documents are products of different moments in history.

Regarding language and length, the United States Constitution is vague and brief. The attribute allows the federal government to interpret the document broadly. Also, it uses this quality in claiming implied powers with the objective of meeting specific public policy challenges (Rhodes, 2014). Texas Constitution, on the contrary, is detailed, lengthy, and characterized by numerous statutory provisions, which specify the roles and responsibilities of the government (Brown et al., 2015). When they are faced with public policy challenges, public officials in Texas do not have the authority of interpreting the constitution in ways that would allow them to deviate from the specific language of the document.

According to Maxwell, Crain& Santos (2014), regarding the executive arm of the government, the United States Constitution defines the executive in terms of a unitary system, which concentrates the powers of the executive in the office of the president. A plural executive in which power is distributed across multiple elected officials defines the Texas constitution. By fragmenting the executive arm of government, the Texas constitution minimizes the possibility of concentrating executive power in one office or individual. The constitution also provides a list of item veto as a demonstration of its affinity for limited spending and government.

From the legislative perspective, there is very little in the United States Constitution that limits the spending and tax policies, which the country’s congressional representatives and senators can introduce as part of the law. The Texas Constitution, however, provides specific restrictions on spending and taxation policies that limit what the legislators can write into law. Additionally, it limits the legislators from allowing the state government to go into debt or implementing a tax on personal income (Rhodes, 2014). The constitution also mandates that the state government must spend specific percentages of its budget on specific policy areas. Whereas the United States constitution considers legislation as a full-time profession, the Texas one the legislators are part-time nonprofessionals who meet for 140 days sessions every two years (Brown et al., 2015). This compels Texas legislators to earn a living outside politics.

According to Rhodes (2014), the federal judiciary is structured in three levels of court: district and appeal courts and the United States Supreme Court. The federal judiciary has the final word on all constitutional and statutory matters. All federal judges assume office by appointment and the Supreme Court justices are appointed for life. According to the United States Constitution, appointment of judges eliminates the pressure of partisan electoral politics hence ensuring that the interests of the minority are protected through a governance system that favours majority rule. The Texas constitution recognizes six types of courts, which have to overlap and sometimes concurrent jurisdictions. This constitution also provides for there are two types of high court. One of the courts arbitrates criminal cases while the other adjudicates civil cases. All judges in Texas assume office through an electoral process, and they must subject themselves to partisan elections.

The processes of amending the United States and Texas Constitutions are also different. The United States Constitution is exceedingly difficult to amend, but its structure and design makes numerous amendments unnecessary. This phenomenon explains why the U.S Constitution has been amended 27 times. Out of these amendments, 10 are part of the founding document because they constitute the Bill of Rights, which was part of the founding document (Rhodes, 2014). From the perspective of Brown et al. (2015), this is different from the Texas constitution, which integrates an easier amendment process. Despite this ease, the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both houses for a proposed amendment process. However, upon the approval of a proposal, it becomes effortless to amend. The governor does not have the power to veto a proposal of amending or implementing an approved amendment. Since the objective of constitutional amendments is to introduce changes to overly detailed public policies, the Texas constitution has been subjected to about 500 amendments.

The United States Constitution and that of Texas have several similarities. An example is that the two documents contain the bill of rights, which guarantees residents civil rights and liberties. Despite the similarities, these documents differ in their details. For instance, while the language used in the United States Constitution is vague, that of Texas constitution is more specific. Overall, the U.S. Constitution is superior to that of Texas and other states.


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Maxwell, W. E., Crain, E., & Santos, A. (2014). Texas politics today. Boston, MA: Wadsworth

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