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Constitution of the State of West Texas (1868)

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CONSTITUTION
OF THE
STATE OF WEST TEXAS.

We, the people of West Texas, acknowledging with gratitude the grace of God in permitting us to make choice of our form of Government, do ordain and establish this Constitution:

ARTICLE I.

BILL OF RIGHTS.


That the general, great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare:

SECTION 1. All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit; and the people of this State have at all times the unalienable right to alter or reform their form of government, in such manner as they may think expedient, subject to the Constitution and Laws of the United States.

SEC. 2. All freemen, when they form a social compact, have equal rights; and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments or privileges, but in consideration of public services.

SEC. 3. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in this State.

SEC. 4. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship god according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no man shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion; and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious societies or mode of worship. The Legislature shall pass laws to protect all persons in the peaceable enjoyment of their mode of worship, free from all disturbances whatever, but shall make no laws prescribing a special observance of any religious days or customs.

SEC. 5. Every citizen shall be at liberty to speak, write, or publish his opinions on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege; and no law shall ever be passed curtailing the liberty of speech or of the press.

SEC. 6. In prosecutions for the publication of papers investigating the official conduct of officers, or men, in a public capacity, or when the matter published is proper for public information, the truth thereof may be given in evidence. And in all indictments for libels, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.

SEC. 7. The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from all unreasonable seizures or searches; and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue, without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.

SEC. 8. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury; he shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself; he shall have the right of being heard by himself or counsel, or both; shall be confronted with the witnesses against him, and shall have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and no person shall be holden to answer for any criminal charge, but on presentment or information, except in cases of offences against the laws regulating the militia.

SEC. 9. All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offences, when the proof is evident; but this provision shall not be so construed as to prohibit bail after presentment or information, upon an examination of the evidence by a Judge of the Supreme or District Court, upon the return of the writ of habeas corpus, returnable in the county where the offence is committed.

SEC. 10. The privileges of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, except when in case of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

SEC. 11. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted. All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law.

SEC. 12. No person, for the same offence, shall be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall a person be again put upon trial for the same offence after a verdict of not guilty; and the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.

SEC. 13. Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms, in the lawful defence of himself or the government, under such regulations as the Legislature may prescribe.

SEC. 14. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, retroactive law, or any law impairing the obligations of contracts, shall be made, and no person's property shall be taken or applied to public use, without adequate compensation being made, unless by the consent of such person, nor shall any law be passed depriving a party of any remedy for the enforcement of a contract which existed when the contract was made.

SEC. 15. No person shall ever be imprisoned for debt.

SEC. 16. No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, or privileged, outlawed, exiled, or in any manner disfranchised, except by due course of the law of the land.

SEC. 17. The military shall at all times be subordinate to the civil authority.

SEC. 18. Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free government, and shall never be allowed--nor shall the law of primogeniture or entailments ever be in force in this State.

SEC. 19. The citizens shall have the right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other purposes, by petition, address, or remonstrance.

SEC. 20. No power of suspending laws in this State shall be exercised, except by the Legislature, or its authority.

SEC. 21. The equality of all persons before the law is herein recognized, and shall ever remain inviolate; nor shall any citizen ever be deprived of any right, privilege, or immunity, nor be exempted from any burden, or duty, on account of race, color, or previous condition.

SEC. 22. Importations of persons "under the name of coolies," or any other name or designation, under the adoption of any system of "peonage," whereby the helpless and unfortunate may be reduced to practical bondage, shall never be authorized, or tolerated by the laws of this State, and neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall ever exit in this State.

SEC. 23. To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare that every thing in this "Bill of Rights" is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void; and we declare that the powers herein granted to the different departments of the government of this State are based upon the equality, in civil and political rights, of all human beings within the jurisdiction of this State; and should any department (either executive, legislative or judicial) attempt, in any manner, to deprive any person or persons of their herein guaranteed civil and political rights, such attempts shall be considered as a violation of the compact under which this State entered the Union.