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1. This week’s edition of #50Weeks50Constitutions explores the constitutional history of the #GrandCanyonState. Arizona, the 48th state, was admitted on Valentines’ Day 1912 after being a territory for over 50 years.
2. The U.S. acquired most of what is now Arizona in the 1848 treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. The land was originally part of the New Mexico territory, but Congress created a separate Arizona territory in 1863 after the Confederacy tried to take it over.…
3. But it took a while for the Arizona statehood movement to really get going. There was some interest in 1872 in the state, but it was clear that Congress had none at the moment due to the remoteness of the territory and the small population at that time.
4. But after Congress admitted a number of states in 1889 the territorial legislature decided to strike while the iron was hot. It drafted a constitution in 1891. And Arizonans approved this draft by a wide margin. But . . . it gained no traction in Congress.
5. Congress was wary of admitting Arizona as it was a Democratic run state where the labor and progressive movements were strong. To curb this, Congress proposed admitting Arizona & New Mexico as a single state—but the people of AZ & NM soundly rejected that proposal.
6. Finally, in the spring of 1910, Congress passed an enabling act offering admission to Arizona. It called for a constitutional convention consisting of 52 delegates. Democrats won 41 of the 52 seats and most of the delegates had previous political experience.
7. There were many contentious issues at the convention, including suffrage, prohibition, labor rights, and restrictions on corporations. But because of the political make-up of the delegates many issues were fairly easily resolved.
8. One of those contentious issues easily resolved was whether Arizona would become the second state to adopt the initiative, referendum, and recall. While the delegates had campaigned on adopting the trio there were questions about the scope and recalling judges.
9. The delegates allowed for the recall of judges which was in line with the animating theme of the convention: power to the people. All offices established were to be elected and it even gave the people an advisory vote on selecting Senators—3 years before the 17th Amendment.
10. This Constitution also included several limitations on what the legislature could do, including a single subject rule. And now, the legislature has proposed an amendment for the 2020 election which would institute a single subject rule for initiatives as well.
11. The Declaration of Rights contained strong protections for individual rights, including property rights. It prohibited the taking of private property for any private use, which provides more protection than the U.S. Constitution after Kelo.…
12. The voters approved this Constitution by a wide margin in December 1910. But it took over a year for the state to be admitted due to controversy over the provision allowing the recall of judges. President Taft required its removal & the people voted 9 to 1 to remove it.
13. But in the very next election Arizonans amended the Constitution to allow for the recall of judges anyway.

Neat trick, huh? And, at the same time Arizonans made known their feelings about Taft as he finished 4th in the state in his reelection bid.
14. The 1910 Constitution has been amended over 150 times. One of the most significant constitutional amendments is the 1998 voter’s protection act. This act generally prevents the legislature from altering or repealing any laws created through the initiative process.
15. Most Arizonans are happy with their Constitution and Arizona is one of the few states where there is both a great deal of academic research about the Arizona Constitution and significant litigation seeking to protect individual rights under the state constitution.
16. This is how it should be. Each state has its own constitution and people should always remember to look to their own state constitution in the pursuit of protecting individual rights as the U.S. Constitution is the floor that state constitutions can go above.
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