There are several differences and similarities found between the US Constitution and the modern Texas Constitution. The first similarity is based on the historical backgrounds of both constitutions. They were adopted in order to take care or mitigate various issues in the respective regions. However, the historical backgrounds that necessitated the development of these constitutions tend to differ. They were also adopted during different periods. The US Constitution was adopted in 1789. It was meant to replace the Articles of Confederation, which had been identified to have weaknesses that hindered government operations. The modern constitution of Texas on the other hand, was adopted in 1876. This had preceded the end of the “darkest chapter” in the state’s history in 1874. Before this period, very oppressive laws had been imposed on United States citizens. The constitution was meant for reconstruction and to help the people move forward (Williams & Hall, 2011).
The cultural backgrounds behind both constitutions show varying differences. The US Constitution was designed to eliminate the weaknesses presented by the Articles of Confederation. Among the major weakness was that it made the government too decentralized hence limiting its powers. The constitution was adapted to offer an advanced degree of centralization thereby increasing the power bestowed on the government (Greenawalt, 2015). The Texas Constitution on the other hand, wanted to move in the opposite direction. It had the objective of paralyzing government’s efforts. Based on the oppression that the people of Texas had faced before, utmost care was being enhanced to ensure that such events did not unfold in future. Restraining the government on what it can and cannot do ensured that the people would be protected from any form of abuse. The constitution emphasizes more on decentralization rather than centralization.
Both constitutions are also similar in that they have three main government branches. They are the executive, judicial and legislative branches. However, there exist differences based on the framework and functions of these branches. For the executive branch, US Constitution creates a unitary body that bestows power to the president. The Texas Constitution on the other hand, develops a plural executive. This disperses powers of the executive across different elected officials (Williams & Hall, 2011). The main objective is to fragment the executive branch of government hence prevent power from concentrating in one office or individual.
The legislative branches of both constitutions also differ in one way or another. The Texas Constitution has detailed restrictions on issues regarding tax. Spending policies tend to restrict what legislators are allowed to write into law. A good example is how the legislators are forbidden to allow the state government from going into debt and implementing taxes on personal income (Greenawalt, 2015). The US Constitution on the other hand, has very little on the spending and tax policies. Senators and designated representatives have autonomy on what they can write into law.
When it comes to the judicial branch of the government, the differences between the two constitutions persist. The US constitution has established an orderly and simple judiciary that encompasses three levels of courts. The Texas Constitution on the other hand, has established six types of courts. Some of them have overlapping or concurrent jurisdictions.
Bothe constitutions tend to share a similar ideology of federalism. Both constitutions advocate for two levels of government. Smaller levels are adjudicated a certain degree of power and autonomy in areas that they are required to govern. Federalism was introduced on both constitutions as a way of enhancing decentralization of some duties.
When it comes to amendments, both constitutions have a similarity in that they have undergone several amendments over time. However, there are differences on the number of amendments that each constitution has had. The US Constitution has experienced 27 amendments while the Texas Constitution is approaching 500. The US Constitution is extremely difficult to amend even though its structure makes frequent amendments unnecessary.
Scholars consider the difficulty that comes with amending the US Constitution among its strengths. This is because it helps to avoid ill-conceived amendments that are aimed at benefiting some individuals at the expense of others. Separation of powers is also perceived as a strength since it limits concentration that would result to exploitation (Greenawalt, 2015). When it comes to weaknesses, federalism is considered as a weakness. This is because it provides the national government power that helps surpass allocated states’ powers. This beats the logic of separation of powers. Congressional stagnation is also considered as a weakness. This is due to the absence of term limits in Congress something that has resulted in unlimited political debates. The modern Texas constitution has a similar strength to the US Constitution in its prospect of separation of powers that ensures citizens are not exploited by “greedy” politicians. The plural executive also limits aspects of dictatorial leadership. Weaknesses associated with this constitution include its ability to be amended easily. This might give political parties an ability to make amendments that favor them in one way or another since voters are usually not privy to much detail. Scholars also think that the numerous restrictions in this constitution are not effective in modern governance (Greenawalt, 2015).
An aspect of the Texas Constitution that can be used to improve federal governance is exerting a term limit for congress members. This will help in eliminating careerism in politics and infusion of new blood will also come with improved governance.
An aspect of the US Constitution that would help to improve governance in Texas is making it difficult to amend the constitution. This will ensure that unnecessary amendments that only favor a few individuals have not been instituted. Reforms should be made to the process involved in amendments where several stakeholders will be introduced.
Greenawalt, K. (2015). Federal Separation of Powers. Interpreting the Constitution, 137-167.
Williams, M., & Hall, J. (2011). Knowledge of the Law in Texas: Socioeconomic and Ethnic Differences. Law & Society Review, 99.
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