The Texas Constitution

For years I have spoken to various groups about the Texas Constitution, and I have shared pocket-sized versions of the Texas Bill of Rights. I have greatly appreciated the positive response to the pamphlet.

Lawyers and courts frequently reference the Texas Constitution and analogous provisions of the United States Constitution, often relying exclusively on the “constitutional law” that has developed to interpret and apply the federal provision. In my experience as a judge, it is relatively rare to see critical examination of the differences in the texts by which Texans arguably have bestowed greater legal protections for individual rights under our state’s foundational charter. When our Texan ancestors had access to the federal constitutional text and deliberately chose to alter the text adopted for the Texas Constitution, it would stand to reason that they intended substantive alterations to have a substantive effect.

This third edition of my pocket Texas Bill of Rights introduces a new innovation: a side-by-side comparison between the Texas Constitution and the text of comparable federal provisions. I have not attempted to identify every federal constitutional provision that has a substantive relation to a state provision. Instead, my goal is to present the federal provisions that have a direct textual parallel to the state provisions, to facilitate comparison and contrast of the texts.

It is my hope that this new presentation of the Texas Bill of Rights will stimulate greater interest in textualist exegesis by Texas lawyers and Texas courts, resulting in a better understanding and application of the original public meaning of our state constitution.