"Constitutions are the fundamental law of the land within a particular jurisdiction. A constitution describes the nature of the government and the relationship between the different branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. It also describes the various rights provided to the people of that state." Pennsylvania Legal Research Handbook 7 (Frank Y. Liu, et al, 2008).
Since 1776, the Pennsylvania Constitution has undergone five versions, seven constitutional conventions, and numerous amendments. The purpose of this guide is to make it easier to navigate through the various materials Jenkins has available to research the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Constitution - "the fundamental and organic law of a country or state that establishes the institutions and apparatus of government, defines the scope of governmental sovereign powers, and guarantees individual civil rights and civil liberties." Constitution, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).
"The Constitution of Pennsylvania is the supreme law within the realm and sphere of its authority, and all acts of the Legislature and any governmental agency are subordinate to it." 10 Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia Constitutional Law § 2 (2nd ed. 2019).
Convention - "a special deliberative assembly elected for the purpose of framing, revising, or amending a constitution. Also termed constitutional convention." Convention, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).
"A constitutional convention represents a proper manner and method by which the citizens of Pennsylvania may initiate an amendment of the Constitution." 10 Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia Constitutional Law § 4 (2nd ed. 2019).
Duquesne University School of Law has a comprehensive electronic collection of Pennsylvania constitutional materials going back to colonial times. It includes the text of the five Pennsylvania constitutions, the debates and proceedings of the seven Constitutional Conventions, Attorney General opinions, and up-to-date news, caselaw, and commentary on the Pennsylvania Constitution.
When appropriate, the individual pages of this guide will link to the relevant content on the Duquesne website.