Throughout the history of the United States, the Texas Constitution has always been criticized for numerous reasons. The late political scientist John E. Paynter once remarked that the Texas Constitution stands as a “perfect example of how not to write one.” I personally agree with the statement that the Constitution of Texas is definitely not an exemplary document and, therefore, I will prove my point of view with incontestable arguments and facts.
The first problem, which becomes evident once an individual takes the Texas Constitution in hands, is the volume of the document. As opposed to the of the United States comprising approximately 4,400 words and containing of 27 amendments, the Constitution of Texas consists of around 80,000 words and 483 amendments since November 2009, the last one of which took effect in 2014 ("Amendments to the Texas Constitution since 1876", 1). However, I believe that the number of amendments will be steadily increasing year by year. According to Brown, Langenegger, Garcia, Lewis, and Biles, as of today the Constitution of Texas, being "the product of the post-Reconstruction era" (65) , is second-biggest constitution among all states, giving place only to the Constitution of Alabama, containing of more than 300,000 words (see fig. 1).
What is even more confusing is that the majority of amendments apply in respect of issues which are to be resolved and regulated "by statues enacted by the Texas legislature", but not by the fundamental law of the state itself.
Source: "The Texas Politics Project." Texas Politics. Web. 6 July 2015.
Another major issue associated with the Constitution of Texas is "the high level of detail is accompanied by confusing organization" (qtd. in TexasPolitics.edu).
The structure of the Texas Constitution, which intrinsically causes confusion, is further complexified by the writing style. The reason for such complexity and confusion lies in the history of the Texas Constitution drawing up process. The majority of original framers, who met in Austin in 1875, were farmers and uneducated representatives of the state. Although some of the delegates were lawyers, none of them were widely recognized and only a few had received proper higher education. The main and the only contact of these representatives with states other than their own and the world outside the territory of their immediate environment was the information published in newspapers.
Having regard to the fact that "the majority were the product of farm and frontier life, so they approached their task with a frontier-agrarian outlook" (A. J. Thomas Jr and A. Thomas, 1).
Beyond peradventure the original text of the Constitution of Texas would have come out more understandable and clear if the original framers had used some linguistic review and editorial revision.
Consequently, another reason why the Constitution of Texas shouldn't be regarded as an exemplary document is the difficulty of translating it. Taking into consideration the fact that "the Texas Constitution has been constantly amended, but not reformulated since 1876, it is a disorganized patchwork that challenges any interpreter" (Bruff, 1351).
As to the actual content of the Texas Constitution, the fundamental problem lies in its structure. Various aspects of individual subject domains and areas, such as local government with its enforcement powers and authority, can be found in several parts of the document.
What is more, the Constitution of Texas in its present form contains substantial gaps due to the replacement of entire sections, which makes the constitution a “perfect example of how not to write one". The reality is that in 1969 an entire Article XIII covering Spanish and Mexican land titles) was abrogated, leaving solely the title of the article but no text. Another change contributing to a confusing document structure is the repeal of five out of the seven original sections in Article XII "Private Corporations", and the repeal of seven out of the eight sections in Article XIV on "Public Lands and the General Land Office (qtd. in TexasPolitics.edu).
As have already been mentioned, unclear and equivocal system of separation of powers is another characteristic feature of the Texas Constitution, which supports the Paynter’s claim.
"Alone among the branches, the executive lacks inherent powers" (Bruff, 1349).
As opposed to the United States Constitution, there is a fundamental problem of the segmented executive branch of government in the Constitution of Texas. On the state level, the Governor does not execute any administrative functions and is not in control over other state authorities. On the other side, the governor shares authority with the latter. It might be implied that under the Constitution Texas "the reality is that both federal and state agencies routinely perform functions characteristic of each of the traditional branches of government". (Bruff, 1343).
As to the judicial branch of government, it should be admitted that the Texas judiciary is one of the most complicated and confusing systems in the country due to the complexity of the state's Constitution. Due to the constitution, the most significant problem is the lack of a coordinated and coherent court structure. In actual fact, the Lone Star State has two highest courts, namely, the Supreme Court to consider appeals in civil cases and the Court of Criminal Appeals to hear criminal cases.
"Yet with all its shortcomings, the Texas Constitution of 1876 lasted for more than 135 years" (Brown, Langenegger, Garcia, Lewis, and Biles, 65).
Amendments to the Texas Constitution since 1876. Austin, TX.: Texas Legislative Council, 2014. Print.
"The Texas Politics Project." Texas Politics. Texas Politics. Web. 6 July 2015. <http://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/archive/html/cons/features/0302_01/sizematters.html>.
"General Characteristics of the Texas Constitution." TexasPolitics.edu. Texas Politics, 2006. Web. 6 July 2015. <http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/cons/0302.html>.
Brown, Lyle C., Joyce A. Langenegger, Sonia R. Garcia, Ted A. Lewis, and Robert E. Biles. "Federalism and the Texas Constitution." Practicing Texas Politics. 15th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012. Print.
Bruff, Harold H. "Separation of Powers under the Texas Constitution." Texas Law Review 68. 7. (1990): 1337-367. Lawweb.colorado.edu. Web. 5 July 2015. <https://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/pubpdfs/bruff/BruffTLR.pdf>.
Thomas Jr, A. J., and Ann Van Wynen Thomas. "Texas Constitution of 1876." Tex. L. Rev. 35 (1956): 907.