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Oregon Constitution
The leather cover of the original Oregon Constitution
The leather cover of the original Oregon Constitution
Created September 18, 1857
Ratified November 9, 1857 (effective on February 14, 1859)
Location State Archives
Authors Delegates of the Oregon Constitutional Convention
Signers 52 of 60 delegates
Purpose Draft constitution to allow for statehood

The Oregon Constitution is the governing document of the U.S. state of Oregon, originally enacted in 1857. As amended the current state constitution contains eighteen sections, beginning with a bill of rights[1]. This contains most of the rights and privileges granted in the United States Bill of Rights and the main text of the United States Constitution. The remainder of the Oregon Constitution outlines the divisions of power within the state government, lists the times of elections, and defines the state boundaries and the capital as Salem.



The first constitutional documents enacted in Oregon pre-dated statehood. These were the Organic Law of 1843 and the Organic Law of 1845, adopted to govern Oregon Territory. In 1857, leaders of the territory gathered at the Oregon Constitutional Convention and drafted the current constitution[2]. Over half of the document's content was derived in part from the Indiana constitution.[3]. Its original implementation provisions included a vote excluding African Americans from the state[1].

On November 9, 1857, Oregon voters approved its first constitution that then became effective upon statehood on February 14, 1859[2]. The constitution was unchanged for the remainder of the 19th century, but has been amended numerous times since 1902 (see, List of Oregon ballot measures). The changes have included the introduction of a direct legislation system, which enabled Oregon voters to propose and approve amendments both to the Constitution and to the Oregon Revised Statutes.

Differences from U.S. Constitution

The Oregon Constitution is easier to amend than its federal counterpart. Amending the U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states. In Oregon, once an initiative amendment to its constitution has been placed on the ballot by initiative petition, or once a legislative amendment has been referred to the people by a simple majority vote in the state legislature, a simple majority of favorable votes is enough to ratify it. Placing a petition for an amendment on the ballot requires a number of valid signatures of registered voters equal to eight percent of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election,[N 1] higher than the six percent required for a change in statute.[N 2] See the list of Oregon ballot measures for initiative amendments.

The right to free speech in Oregon is broader than that enjoyed at the federal level:

No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.

Oregon Constitution, Art. I §8

The Oregon Supreme Court has cited this right against parts of Oregon's disorderly conduct statute, against content-based restrictions on billboards and murals, and against laws restricting the sale of pornography.


I — Bill of rights
II — Suffrage and elections (see also Elections in Oregon)
III — Distribution of powers
IV — Legislative department(see also Oregon Legislative Assembly)
V — Executive department(see also List of Oregon state agencies)
VI — Administrative department
VII (Amended) — Judicial department (see also Oregon Judicial Department)
VII (Original) — Judicial department
VIII — Education and school lands(see also Education in Oregon)
IX — Finance
X — The militia(see also Oregon Military Department)
XI — Corporations and internal improvements
XI-A — Farm and home loans to veterans
XI-D — State power development
XI-E — State reforestation
XI-F(1) — Higher education building projects
XI-F(2) — Veterans' bonus
XI-G — Higher education institutions and activities; community colleges
XI-H — Pollution control
XI-I(1) — Water development projects
XI-I(2) — Multifamily housing for elderly and disabled
XI-J — Small scale local energy loans
XI-K — Guarantee of bonded indebtedness of education districts
XI-L — Oregon Health and Science University(see also Oregon Health & Science University)
XI-M — Seismic rehabilitation of public education buildings
XI-N — Seismic rehabilitation of emergency services buildings
XI-O — Pension liabilities
XII — State printing
XIV — Seat of government (see also Oregon State Capitol)
XV — Miscellaneous
XVI — Boundaries (see also Geography of Oregon)
XVII — Amendments and revisions
XVIII — Schedule


  1. ^ Oregon Constitution, Art. IV §1(2)(c)
  2. ^ Oregon Constitution, Art. IV §1(2)(b)


  1. ^ a b Constitution of Oregon: 2005 Edition. Oregon Legislative Assembly, accessed 2007-10-19.
  2. ^ a b Oregon Blue Book: Constitution of Oregon. Oregon Secretary of State, accessed 2007-10-19.
  3. ^ Friedman, Lawrence M. 1985. A History of American Law, 2nd Edition. Simon & Schuster; New York, NY. p. 347.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Oregon Constitution
Constitutional Convention, the people of Oregon
The Oregon Constitution as reproduced from here, with minor typographical alterations that do not impact the integrity of the text.
Leather cover.
Title page.


We the people of the State of Oregon to the end that Justice be established, order maintained, and liberty perpetuated, do ordain this Constitution.—


Crossed-out article titles indicate repealed articles.

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