The Vermont Constitution
The following is the complete text of the Vermont Constitution. Text in
bold designates added comments (plus see Section 75).
Chapter 1 - A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont
Chapter 2 - Plan or Frame of Government
Section 1 - Governing Power
Section 2 - Supreme legislative power
Section 3 - Supreme executive power
Section 4 - Judiciary
Section 5 - Departments to be distinct
Section 6 - Legislative powers
Section 7 - Biennial sessions
Section 8 - Doors of general assembly to be open
Section 9 - Journals; yeas and nays
Section 10 - Style of laws
Section 11 - Governor to approve bills; veto proceedings thereon; nonaction
Section 12 - Fees for advocating bills, etc.
Section 13 - Representatives; number
Section 14 - Powers of house
Section 15 - Residence of representatives and senators
Section 16 - Representatives' oaths
Section 17 - Oath of senators and representatives
Section 18 - Senators; numbers; qualifications
Section 19 - Powers of senate; Lieutenant-Governor's duties
Section 20 - Governor; executive power
Section 21 - Secretary of civil and military affairs
Section 22 - Commissions; state seal
Section 23 - Residence of Governor and Lieutenant-Governor
Section 24 - Vacancy in office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer
Section 25 - Security given by Treasurer and sheriffs
Section 26 - Treasurer's accounts
Section 27 - Drawing money from treasury
Section 28 - Courts of justice
Section 29 - The Supreme Court; composition
Section 30 - Supreme Court; jurisdiction
Section 31 - Lower courts; jurisdiction
Section 32 - Filling judicial vacancies
Section 33 - Interim judicial appointments
Section 34 - Judicial term of office
Section 35 - Mandatory retirement
Section 36 - Suspension and removal; implementation procedures for sections 32 through 36
Section 37 - Rule-making power
Section 38 - Jury trials
Section 39 - Forms of prosecutions and indictments; fines
Section 40 - Excessive bail prohibited; prisoners bailable; imprisonment for debt prohibited
Section 41 - Habeas corpus
Section 42 - Voter's qualifications and oaths
Section 43 - Biennial elections
Section 44 - Election of representatives and senators
Section 45 - Manner of election
Section 46 - Terms of senators and representatives
Section 47 - Election of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor and Treasurer
Section 48 - Election of secretary of state and auditor of accounts
Section 49 - Term of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer
Section 50 - Election of assistant judges, sheriffs and state's attorneys
Section 51 - Election of judges of probate
Section 52 - Election of justices of the peace; apportionment
Section 53 - Election of assistant judges, sheriffs, state's attorneys, judges of probate, and justices of the peace
Section 54 - Incompatible offices
Section 55 - Freedom of elections; bribery
Section 56 - Oaths of allegiance and office
Section 57 - Impeachments, house may order
Section 58 - Liability to; senate to try; judgment
Section 59 - Militia
Section 60 - Legislature restricted
Section 61 - Offices of profit; compensation; illegal fees
Section 62 - Record of deeds
Section 63 - Entails to be regulated
Section 64 - Punishment at hard labor
Section 65 - Suicide's estate not forfeited; no deodand
Section 66 - Citizenship
Section 67 - Hunting; fowling and fishing
Section 68 - Laws to encourage virtue and prevent vice; schools; religious activities
Section 69 - Charters, limit on right to grant
Section 70 - Workers' compensation
Section 71 - Declaration of rights not to be violated
Section 72 - Amending constitution
Section 73 - Manner of apportionment of the general assembly
Section 74 - Extension of terms of certain officers
Section 75 - Revision of chapter II
Section 76 - Inclusive language revision
Constitution of the State of Vermont
CHAPTER I. A
DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE STATE OF VERMONT
All persons born free; their natural rights; slavery prohibited
That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain
natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying
and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property,
and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in
this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve
any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after arriving to the age of
twenty-one years, unless bound by the person's own consent, after arriving
to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs,
or the like.
Private property subject to public use; owner to be paid
That private property ought to be subservient to public uses when necessity
requires it, nevertheless, whenever any person's property is taken for the
use of the public, the owner ought to receive an equivalent in money.
Freedom in religion; right and duty of religious worship
That all persons have a natural and unalienable right, to worship
Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and
understandings, as in their opinion shall be regulated by the word of
God; and that no person ought to, or of right can be compelled to
attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of
worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of
conscience, nor can any person be justly deprived or abridged of
any civil right as a citizen, on account of religious sentiments,
or peculiar mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or
ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatever, that shall in
any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience,
in the free exercise of religious worship. Nevertheless, every sect or
denomination of Christians ought to observe the sabbath or Lord's day,
and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most
agreeable to the revealed will of God.
Remedy at law secured to all
Every person within this state ought to find a certain remedy, by having
recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which one may receive in
person, property or character; every person ought to obtain right and
justice, freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely and
without any denial; promptly and without delay; conformability to the laws.
That the people of this state by their legal representatives, have the
sole, inherent, and exclusive right of governing and regulating the
internal police of the same.
Officers servants of the people
That all power being originally inherent in and consequently derived
from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative
or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all times, in a
legal way, accountable to them.
Government for the people; they may change it
That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit,
protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for
the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or
set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the
community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to
reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that
community, judged most conducive to the public weal.
Elections to be free and pure; rights of voters therein
That all elections ought to be free and without corruption, and that all
voters, having a sufficient, evident, common interest with, and attachment
to the community, have a right to elect officers, and be elected into
office, agreeably to the regulations made in this constitution.
Citizens' rights and duties in the state; bearing arms;
That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment
of life, liberty, and property, and therefore is bound to contribute the
member's proportion towards the expense of that protection, and yield
personal service, when necessary, or an equivalent thereto, but no part of
any person's property can be justly taken, or applied to public uses,
without the person's own consent, or that of the Representative Body, nor
can any person who is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, be justly
compelled thereto, if such person will pay such equivalent; nor are the
people bound by any law but such as they have in like manner assented to,
for their common good: and previous to any law being made to raise a tax,
the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the
Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if
Rights of persons accused of crime; personal liberty; waiver of jury
That in all prosecutions for criminal offenses, a person hath a right to
be heard by oneself person and by counsel; to demand the cause and nature
of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses; to call for
evidence in the person's favor, and a speedy public trial by an impartial
jury of the country; without the unanimous consent of which jury, the person
cannot be found guilty; nor can a person be compelled to give evidence
against oneself; nor can any person be justly deprived of liberty, except
by the laws of the land, or the judgment of the person's peers; provided,
nevertheless, in criminal prosecutions for offenses not punishable by
death, the accused, with the consent of the prosecuting officer entered of
record, may in open court or by a writing signed by the accused and filed
with the court, waive the right to a jury trial and submit the issue of the
accused's guilt to the determination and judgment of the court without a
Search and seizure regulated
That the people have a right to hold themselves, their houses, papers,
and possessions, free from search or seizure; and therefore warrants, without
oath or affirmation first made, affording sufficient foundation for them, and
whereby by any officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search
suspected places, or to seize any person or persons, his, her or their
property, not particularly described, are contrary to that right, and ought
not to be granted.
Trial by jury to be held sacred
That when any issue in fact, proper for the cognizance of a jury is
joined in a court of law, the parties have a right to trial by jury,
which ought to be held sacred.
Freedom of speech and of the press
That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing and
publishing their sentiments, concerning the transactions of government,
and therefore the freedom of the press ought not to be restrained.
Immunity for words spoken in legislative debate
The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in the Legislature, is
so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation
of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court
or place whatsoever.
Legislature only may suspend laws
The power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, ought never to
be exercised but by the Legislature, or by authority derived from it, to be
exercised in such particular cases, as this constitution, or the
Legislature shall provide for.
Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to
That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves
and the State - and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to
liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be
kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.
Martial law restricted
That no person in this state can in any case be subjected to law martial,
or to any penalties or pains by virtue of that law except those employed in
the army, and the militia in actual service.
Regard to fundamental principles and virtues necessary to preserve
That frequent recurrence to fundamental principles, and a firm adherence
to justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are absolutely
necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty, and keep government free;
the people ought, therefore to pay particular attention to these points,
in the choice of officers and representatives, and have a right, in a
legal way, to exact a due and constant regard to them, from their
legislators and magistrates, and in making and executing such laws as are
necessary for the good government of the State.
Right to emigrate
That all people have a natural and inherent right to emigrate from one
state to another that will receive them.
Right to assemble, instruct and petition
That the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their
common good - to instruct their Representatives - and to apply to the
Legislature for redress of grievances, by address, petition or remonstrance.
No transportation for trial
That no person shall be liable to be transported out of this state for
trial for any offense committed within the same.
CHAPTER II. PLAN OR
FRAME OF GOVERNMENT
DELEGATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF POWERS
§ 1. Governing power
The Commonwealth or State of Vermont shall be governed by a Governor
(or Lieutenant-Governor), a Senate and a House of Representatives in manner
and form following:
§ 2. Supreme legislative power
The Supreme Legislative power shall be exercised by a Senate and a House
§ 3. Supreme executive power
The Supreme Executive power shall be exercised by a Governor, or in the
Governor's absence, a Lieutenant-Governor.
§ 4. Judiciary
The judicial power of the State shall be vested in a unified judicial system
which shall be composed of a Supreme Court, a Superior Court, and such other
subordinate courts as the General Assembly may from time to time ordain and
§ 5. Departments to be distinct
The Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary departments, shall be separate
and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to the
§ 6. Legislative powers
The Senate and the House of Representatives shall be styled, The General
Assembly of the State of Vermont. Each shall have and exercise the like
powers in all acts of legislation; and no bill, resolution, or other thing,
which shall have been passed by the one, shall have the effect of, or be
declared to be, a law, without the concurrence of the other.
Provided, That all Revenue bills shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur in amendments, as on
other bills. Neither House during the session of the General Assembly,
shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days,
nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting;
and in case of disagreement between the two Houses with respect to
adjournment, the Governor may adjourn them to such time as the Governor
shall think proper. They may prepare bills and enact them into laws, redress
grievances, grant charters of incorporation, subject to the provisions of
section 69, constitute towns, boroughs, cities
and counties; and they shall have all other powers necessary for the
Legislature of a free and sovereign State; but they shall have no power
to add to, alter, abolish, or infringe any part of this constitution.
§ 7. Biennial sessions
The general Assembly shall meet biennially on the first Wednesday
next after the first Monday of January, beginning in A.D. 1915.
§ 8. Doors of general assembly to be open
The doors of the House in which the General Assembly of this Commonwealth
shall sit, shall be open for the admission of all persons who behave
decently, except only when the welfare of the State may require them to be
§ 9. Journals; yeas and nays
The votes and proceedings of the General Assembly shall be printed
(when one-third of the members of either House think it necessary) as soon
as convenient after the end of the session, with the yeas and nays of the
House of Representatives on any question when required by five members, and
of the Senate when required by one Senator, (except where the votes shall be
taken by ballot), in which case every member of either House shall have a
right to insert the reasons of the member's vote upon the minutes.
§ 10. Style of laws
The style of the laws of this State shall be, It is hereby
enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont.
§ 11. Governor to approve bills; veto proceedings thereon; nonaction
Every bill which shall have passed the Senate and House of Representatives
shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the Governor; if the Governor
approve, the Governor shall sign it; if not, the Governor shall return it,
with objections in writing, to the House in which it shall have originated;
which shall proceed to reconsider it. If, upon such reconsideration,
two-thirds of the members present of that House shall pass the bill, it
shall, together with the objections, be sent to the other House, by which
it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of the
members present of that House, it shall become a law.
But, in all such cases, the votes of both Houses shall be taken by yeas
and nays, and the names of the persons voting for or against the bill shall
be entered on the journal of each House, respectively. If any bill shall not
be returned by the Governor, as aforesaid, within five days
(Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to the Governor, the
same shall become a law in like manner as if the Governor had signed it;
unless the two Houses by their adjournment, within three days after the
presentation of such bill shall prevent its return; in which case it
shall not become a law.
§ 12. Fees for advocating bills, etc.
No member of the General Assembly shall, directly or indirectly, receive
any fee or reward, to bring forward or advocate any bill, petition, or other
business to be transacted in the Legislature; or advocate any cause, as
counsel in either House of legislation, except when employed in behalf of
§ 13. Representatives; number
The House of Representatives shall be composed of one hundred fifty
Representatives. The voters of each representative district established by
law shall elect one or two Representatives from that district, the number
from each district to be established by the General Assembly.
In establishing representative districts, which shall afford equality of
representation, the General Assembly shall seek to maintain geographical
compactness and contiguity and to adhere to boundaries of counties and other
existing political subdivisions.
§ 14. Powers of house
The Representatives so chosen (a majority of whom shall constitute a
quorum for transacting any other business than raising a State tax, for
which two-thirds of the members elected shall be present) shall meet as
required by section 7, and shall be styled the
House of Representatives: they shall have power to choose their Speaker,
their Clerk and other necessary officers, sit on their own adjournment
subject to the limitations of section 6, judge of
the elections and qualifications of their own members; they may expel
members, but not for causes known to their constituents antecedent to their
election, administer oaths and affirmations in matters depending before
them, and impeach state criminals.
§ 15. Residence of representatives and senators
No person shall be elected a Representative or a Senator until the
person has resided in this State two years, the last year of which shall
be in the legislative district for which the person is elected.
§ 16. Representatives' oaths
The Representatives having met, and chosen their Speaker and Clerk,
shall each of them, before they proceed to business, take and subscribe, as
well the oath or affirmation of allegiance hereinafter directed (except where
they shall produce certificates of their having theretofore taken and
subscribed the same) as the following oath or affirmation:
You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as a member of this
Assembly, you will not propose, or assent to, any bill, vote or
resolution, which shall appear to you injurious to the people,
nor do nor consent to any act or thing whatever, that shall have
a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as
declared by the Constitution of this State; but will, in all things,
conduct yourself as a faithful, honest Representative and guardian of
the people, according to the best of your judgment and ability.
(In case of an oath) So help you God. (Or in case of an affirmation)
Under the pains and penalties of perjury.
§ 17. Oath of senators and representatives
The Representatives having met on the day appointed by law for the
commencement of a biennial session of the General Assembly, and chosen
their Speaker, and the Senators having met, shall, before they proceed to
business, take and subscribe the following oath, in addition to the oath
prescribed in the foregoing section:
You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you did not at the
time of your election to this body, and that you do not now, hold any
office of profit or trust under the authority of Congress. So help you
God. (Or in case of an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties
of perjury. The words "office of profit or trust under the authority
of Congress" shall be construed to mean any office created directly or
indirectly by Congress, and for which emolument is provided from the
Treasury of the United States, other than that of a member of the
commissioned or enlisted personnel in the reserve components of the
armed forces of the United States while not on extended active duty.
§ 18. Senators; numbers; qualifications
The Senate shall be composed of thirty Senators to be of the senatorial
district from which they are elected. The voters of each senatorial
district established by law shall elect one or more Senators from that
district, the number from each district to be established by the General
In establishing senatorial districts, which shall afford equality of
representation, the General Assembly shall seek to maintain geographical
compactness and contiguity and to adhere to boundaries of counties and
other existing political subdivisions.
§ 19. Powers of senate; Lieutenant-Governor's duties
The Senate shall have the like powers to decide on the election and
qualifications of, and to expel any of, its members, make its own rules,
and appoint its own officers, as are incident to, or are possessed by,
the House of Representatives. A majority shall constitute a quorum. The
Lieutenant-Governor shall be President of the Senate, except when
exercising the office of Governor, or when the office of the
Lieutenant-Governor shall be vacant, or in the absence of the
Lieutenant-Governor, in which cases the Senate shall appoint one of its
own members to be President of the Senate, pro tempore. And the
President of the Senate shall have a casting vote, but no other.
§ 20. Governor; executive power
The Governor, and in the Governor's absence, the Lieutenant-Governor,
shall have power to commission all officers, and also to appoint officers,
except where provision is, or shall be, otherwise made by law or this
Frame of Government; and shall supply every vacancy in any office,
occasioned by death or otherwise, until the office can be filled in the
manner directed by law or this Constitution. The Governor is to
correspond with other States, transact business with officers of
government, civil and military, and prepare such business as may appear
necessary, to lay before the General Assembly. The Governor shall have power
to grant pardons and remit fines in all cases whatsoever, except in treason
in which the Governor shall have power to grant reprieves, but not to
pardon, until after the end of the next session of the General Assembly; and
except in cases of impeachment, in which the Governor shall not grant
reprieve or pardon, and there shall be no remission, or mitigation of
punishment, but by act of legislation. The Governor is also to take care
that the laws be faithfully executed. The Governor is to expedite the
execution of such measures as may be resolved upon by the General Assembly.
And the Governor may draw upon the Treasury for such sums as may be
appropriated by the General Assembly. The Governor may also lay embargoes,
or prohibit the exportation of any commodity, for any time not exceeding
thirty days, in the recess of the General Assembly only. The Governor may
grant such licenses as shall be directed by law; and shall have power to
call together the General Assembly, when necessary, before the day to
which they shall stand adjourned. The Governor shall be Captain-General
and Commander-in-Chief of the forces of the State, but shall not command
in person, in time of war, or insurrection, unless by the advice and
consent of the Senate, and no longer than they shall approve thereof.
And the Lieutenant-Governor shall, by virtue of office, be
Lieutenant-General of all the forces of the State.
§ 21. Secretary of civil and military affairs
The Governor may have a Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, to
be appointed during pleasure, whose services the Governor may at all times
command; and for whose compensation provision shall be made by law.
§ 22. Commissions; state seal
All commissions shall be in the name of The People of the State
of Vermont, sealed with the State Seal, signed by the Governor, and
in the absence of the Governor by the Lieutenant-Governor, and
attested by the Secretary; which Seal shall be kept by the Governor.
§ 23. Residence of Governor and Lieutenant-Governor
No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor or
Lieutenant-Governor until the person shall have resided in this State four
years next preceding the day of election.
§ 24. Vacancy in office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer
The Legislature shall provide by general law what officer shall act as
Governor whenever there shall be a vacancy in both the offices of Governor
and Lieutenant-Governor, occasioned by a failure to elect, or by the
removal from office, or by the death or resignation of both Governor and
Lieutenant-Governor, or by the inability of both Governor and
Lieutenant-Governor to exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the
office of Governor; and such officer so designated, shall exercise the
powers and discharge the duties appertaining to the office of Governor
accordingly until the disability shall be removed, or a Governor shall
be elected. And in case there shall be a vacancy in the office of
Treasurer, by reason of any of the causes enumerated, the Governor shall
appoint a Treasurer for the time being, who shall act as Treasurer until
the disability shall be removed, or a new election shall be made.
§ 25. Security given by Treasurer and sheriffs
The Treasurer of the State shall, before entering upon the duties of
office, give sufficient security to the Secretary of State, in behalf
of the State of Vermont, before the Governor of the State or one of the
Justices of the Supreme Court. And Sheriffs, before entering upon the duties
of their offices, shall give sufficient security in such manner and in such
sums as shall be directed by the Legislature.
§ 26. Treasurer's accounts
The Treasurer's accounts shall be annually audited, and a fair state
thereof laid before the General Assembly at its biennial session in
§ 27. Drawing money from treasury
No money shall be drawn out of the Treasury, unless first appropriated
by act of legislation.
§ 28. Courts of justice
The Courts of Justice shall be open for the trial of all causes proper for
their cognizance; and justice shall be therein impartially administered,
without corruption or unnecessary delay.
§ 29. The Supreme Court; composition
The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice of the State and
four associate justices of the Supreme Court.
§ 30. Supreme Court; jurisdiction
The Supreme Court shall exercise appellate jurisdiction in all cases,
criminal and civil, under such terms and conditions as it shall specify
in rules not inconsistent with law. The Supreme Court shall have original
jurisdiction only as provided by law, but it shall have the power to
issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of its appellate
jurisdiction. The Supreme Court shall have administrative control of all
the courts of the state, and disciplinary authority concerning all
judicial officers and attorneys at law in the State.
§ 31. Lower courts; jurisdiction
All other courts of this State shall have original and appellate
jurisdiction as provided by law. All courts except the Supreme Court may be
divided into geographical and functional divisions as provided by law or by
judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court not inconsistent with law. The
jurisdiction of geographical and functional divisions shall be as provided by
law or by judicial rules not inconsistent with law. The courts of this state
may exercise equity jurisdiction as well as law jurisdiction in civil
proceedings as may be provided by law or by judicial rules not inconsistent
§ 32. Filling judicial vacancies
The Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall fill a
vacancy in the office of the Chief justice of the State, associate justice of
the Supreme Court or judge of any other court, except the office of Assistant
Judge and of Judge of Probate, from a list of nominees presented by a judicial
nominating body established by the General Assembly having authority to apply
reasonable standards of selection.
§ 33. Interim judicial appointments
When the Senate is not in session, the Governor may make an interim
appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of chief justice, associate
justice of the Supreme Court or judge of any other court, except the office
of Assistant Judge and of Judge of Probate, from a list of nominees
presented by the judicial nominating body. A justice or judge so appointed
shall hold office, with all the powers incident to the office, until the
Senate convenes and acts upon the appointment submitted by the Governor.
Thereafter, the appointee shall continue in office if the Senate consents
to the appointment. If the appointment is not confirmed upon vote of the
Senate, the appointment shall be terminated and a vacancy in the office
will be created.
§ 34. Judicial term of office
The justices of the Supreme Court and judges of all subordinate courts,
except Assistant Judges and Judges of Probate, shall hold office for terms
of six years except when holding office under an interim appointment. At the
end of the initial six year term and at the end of each six year term
thereafter, such justice or judge may give notice in the manner provided by
law of a desire to continue in office. When such justice or judge gives the
required notice, the question of continuance in office shall be submitted to
the General Assembly and the justice or judge shall continue in office for
another term of six years unless a majority of the members of the General
Assembly voting on the question vote against continuation in office.
§ 35. Mandatory retirement
All justices of the Supreme Court and judges of all subordinate courts
shall be retired at the end of the calendar year in which they attain seventy
years of age or at the end of the term of election during which they attain
seventy years of age, as the case may be, and shall be pensioned as provided
by law. The chief justice may from time to time appoint retired justices
and judges to special assignments as permitted under the rules of the Supreme
§ 36. Suspension and removal; implementation procedures for sections 32 through 36
The justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of all subordinate courts
shall hold office during good behavior for the terms for which they are
appointed. The Supreme Court in the exercise of its disciplinary power over
the judiciary of the state may suspend justices of the Supreme Court and
judges of all subordinate courts from the judicial function for such cause
and in such manner as may be provided by law. The General Assembly may
establish procedures for the implementation of the provisions of
sections thirty-two through thirty-six.
§ 37. Rule-making power
The Supreme Court shall make and promulgate rules governing the
administration of all courts, and shall make and promulgate rules governing
practice and procedure in civil and criminal cases in all courts. Any rule
adopted by the Supreme Court may be revised by the General Assembly.
§ 38. Jury trials
Trials of issues, proper for the cognizance of a Jury as established by
law or by judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court not inconsistent with
law, in the Supreme Court, the Superior Court and other subordinate courts,
shall be by Jury, except where parties otherwise agree; and great care ought
to be taken to prevent corruption or partiality in the choice and return,
or appointment of Juries.
§ 39. Forms of prosecutions and indictments; fines
All prosecutions shall commence, By the authority of the State
of Vermont. All Indictments shall conclude with these words,
against the peace and dignity of the State. And all fines
shall be proportioned to the offenses.
§ 40. Excessive bail prohibited; prisoners bailable; imprisonment for debt prohibited
Excessive bail shall not be exacted for bailable offenses. All persons
shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except as follows:
(1) A person accused of an offense punishable by death or life
imprisonment may be held without bail when the evidence of guilt is great.
(2) A person accused of a felony, an element of which involves an act
of violence against another person, may be held without bail when the
evidence of guilt is great and the court finds, based upon clear and
convincing evidence, that the person's release poses a substantial
threat of physical violence to any person and that no condition or
combination of conditions of release will reasonably prevent the
physical violence. A person held without bail prior to trial under
this paragraph shall be entitled to review de novo by a single
justice of the Supreme Court forthwith.
(3) A person awaiting sentence, or sentenced pending appeal, may be
held without bail for any offense.
A person held without bail prior to trial shall be entitled to review
of that determination by a panel of three Supreme Court Justices within
seven days after bail is denied.
Except in the case of an offense punishable by death or life
imprisonment, if a person is held without bail prior to trial, the trial
of the person shall be commenced not more than 60 days after bail is
denied. If the trial is not commenced within 60 days and the delay is not
attributable to the defense, the court shall immediately schedule a bail
hearing and shall set bail for the person.
No person shall be imprisoned for debt.
§ 41. Habeas corpus
The Writ of Habeas Corpus shall in no case be suspended. It shall be a
writ issuable of right; and the General Assembly shall make provision to
render it a speedy and effectual remedy in all cases proper therefor.
QUALIFICATIONS OF FREEMEN AND FREEWOMEN
§ 42. Voter's qualifications and oaths
Every person of the full age of eighteen years who is a citizen of the
United States, having resided in this State for the period established by
the General Assembly and who is of a quiet and peaceable behavior, and
will take the following oath or affirmation, shall be entitled to all the
privileges of a voter of this state:
You solemnly swear (or affirm) that whenever you give your vote or
suffrage, touching any matter that concerns the State of Vermont, you
will do it so as in your conscience you shall judge will most conduce
to the best good of the same, as established by the Constitution, without
fear or favor of any person.
ELECTIONS; OFFICERS; TERMS OF OFFICE
§ 43. Biennial elections
The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State,
Auditor of Accounts, Senators, Town Representatives, Assistant Judges of
the County Court, Sheriffs, High Bailiffs, State's Attorneys, Judges of
Probate and Justices of the Peace, shall be elected biennially on the first
Tuesday next after the first Monday of November, beginning in A.D. 1914.
§ 44. Election of representatives and senators
Senators and Representatives shall be elected to office at a general
election to be held biennially on the first Tuesday next after the
first Monday of November, A.D. 1974.
§ 45. Manner of election
The manner of election, certification, and filling of vacancies in office
of Senators and Representatives shall be as established by law.
§ 46. Terms of senators and representatives
The term of office of Senators and Representatives shall be two years,
commencing on the first Wednesday next after the first Monday of January
following their election.
§ 47. Election of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor and Treasurer
The voters of each town shall, on the day of election for choosing
Representatives to attend the General Assembly, bring in their votes for
Governor, with the name fairly written, to the Constable, who shall seal
them up, and write on them, Votes for Governor, and deliver them
to the Representatives chosen to attend the General Assembly; and at the
opening of the General Assembly, there shall be a committee appointed out of
the Senate and House of Representatives, who, after being duly sworn to the
faithful discharge of their trust, shall proceed to receive, sort, and count
the votes for Governor, and declare the person who has the major part of the
votes, to be Governor for the two years ensuing. The Lieutenant-Governor and
the Treasurer shall be chosen in the manner above directed.
The votes for Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and Treasurer, of the State,
shall be sorted and counted, and the result declared, by a committee
appointed by the Senate and House of Representatives.
If, at any time, there shall be no election, of Governor,
Lieutenant-Governor, or Treasurer, of the State, the Senate and House of
Representatives shall by a joint ballot, elect to fill the office, not filled
as aforesaid, one of the three candidates for such office (if there be so many)
for whom the greatest number of votes shall have been returned.
§ 48. Election of secretary of state and auditor of accounts
The Secretary of State and the Auditor of Accounts shall be elected by
the voters of the State upon the same ticket with the Governor,
Lieutenant-Governor and Treasurer; and the Legislature shall carry this
provision into effect by appropriate legislation.
§ 49. Term of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer
The term of office of the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor and Treasurer
of the State, respectively, shall commence when they shall be chosen and
qualified, and shall continue for the term of two years, or until their
successors shall be chosen and qualified, or to the adjournment of the
session of the Legislature at which, by the Constitution and laws,
their successors are required to be chosen, and not after such adjournment.
§ 50. Election of assistant judges, sheriffs and state's attorneys
The Assistant Judges shall be elected by the voters of their respective
districts as established by law. Their judicial functions shall be
established by law. Their term of office shall be four years and shall
commence on the first day of February next after their election.
Sheriffs shall be elected by the voters of their respective districts
as established by law. Their term of office shall be four years and shall
commence on the first day of February next after their election.
State's Attorneys shall be elected by the voters of their respective
districts as established by law. Their term of office shall be four years and
shall commence on the first day of February next after their election.
§ 51. Election of judges of probate
Judges of Probate shall be elected by the voters of their respective
districts as established by law. The General Assembly may establish by
law qualifications for the election to and holding of such office. Their
term of office shall be four years and shall commence on the first day
of February next after their election.
§ 52. Election of justices of the peace; apportionment
Justices of the Peace shall be elected by the voters of their respective
towns; and towns having less than one thousand inhabitants may elect any number
of Justices of the Peace not exceeding five; towns having one thousand and less
than two thousand inhabitants, may elect seven; towns having two thousand and
less than three thousand inhabitants, may elect ten; towns having three thousand
and less than five thousand inhabitants, may elect twelve; and towns having five
thousand, or more, inhabitants, may elect fifteen Justices of the Peace.
Justices of the Peace shall not exercise judicial powers, except that they may
serve as magistrates when so commissioned by the Supreme Court.
§ 53. Election of assistant judges, sheriffs, state's attorneys, judges of probate, and justices of the peace
The manner and certification of election and filling of vacancies in
the offices of Assistant Judges, Sheriffs, State's Attorneys, Judges of
Probate and Justices of the Peace shall be as established by law.
§ 54. Incompatible offices
No person in this State shall be capable of holding or exercising more
than one of the following offices at the same time: Governor,
Lieutenant-Governor, Justice of the Supreme Court, Treasurer of the State,
member of the Senate, member of the House of Representatives,
Surveyor-General, or Sheriff. Nor shall any person holding any office of
profit or trust under the authority of Congress, other than a member of the
commissioned or enlisted personnel in the reserve components of the armed
forces of the United States while not on extended active duty, be eligible to
any appointment in the Legislature, or to any executive or judiciary office
under this State.
§ 55. Freedom of elections; bribery
All elections, whether by the people or the Legislature, shall be free
and voluntary: and any elector who shall receive any gift or reward for the
elector's vote, in meat, drink, moneys or otherwise, shall forfeit the right
to elect at that time, and suffer such other penalty as the law shall direct;
and any person who shall directly or indirectly give, promise, or bestow, any
such rewards to be elected, shall thereby be rendered incapable to serve for
the ensuing year, and be subject to such further punishment as the Legislature
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE; OATH OF OFFICE
§ 56. Oaths of allegiance and office
Every officer, whether judicial, executive, or military, in
authority under this State, before entering upon the execution of
office, shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation of
allegiance to this State, (unless the officer shall produce evidence that
the officer has before taken the same) and also the following oath or
affirmation of office, except military officers, and such as shall be
exempted by the Legislature.
The Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance
You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will be true
and faithful to the State of Vermont and that you will not, directly
or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution or
Government thereof. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties
The Oath or Affirmation of Office
You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will faithfully
execute the office of ____ for the ____ of ____ and will therein do
equal right and justice to all persons, to the best of your judgment
and ability, according to law. (If an oath) So help you
God. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of
§ 57. Impeachments, house may order
The House of Representatives shall have the power to order impeachments,
which shall in all cases be by a vote of two-thirds of its members.
§ 58. Liability to; senate to try; judgment
Every officer of State, whether judicial or executive, shall be liable to
be impeached by the House of Representatives, either when in office or after
his resignation or removal for maladministration.
The Senate shall have the sole power of trying and deciding upon all
impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath, or
affirmation, and no person shall be convicted, without the concurrence of
two-thirds of the members present. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not
extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold or
enjoy any office of honor, or profit, or trust, under this State. But the
person convicted shall, nevertheless, be liable and subject to indictment,
trial, judgment, and punishment, according to law.
§ 59. Militia
The inhabitants of this State shall be trained and armed for its defense,
under such regulations, restrictions, and exceptions, as Congress, agreeably
to the Constitution of the United States, and the Legislature of this State,
§ 60. Legislature restricted
No person ought in any case, or in any time, to be declared guilty of
treason or felony, by the Legislature, nor to have his sentence upon
conviction for felony commuted, remitted, or mitigated by the Legislature.
§ 61. Offices of profit; compensation; illegal fees
As all persons of full age, to preserve their independence (if without a
sufficient estate) ought to have some profession, calling, trade, or farm,
whereby they may honestly subsist, there can be no necessity for, nor use in,
establishing offices of profit, the usual effects of which are dependence
and servility, unbecoming free citizens, in the possessors or expectants,
and faction, contention and discord among the people. But if any person is
called into public service to the prejudice of that person's private
affairs, the person has a right to a reasonable compensation; and whenever
an office through increase of fees or otherwise, becomes so profitable as
to occasion many to apply for it, the profit ought to be lessened by the
Legislature. And if any officer shall wittingly and wilfully, take
greater fees than the law allows, it shall ever after disqualify that person
from holding any office in this State, until the person shall be restored by
act of legislation.
§ 62. Record of deeds
All deeds and conveyances of lands shall be recorded in the Town Clerk's
office in their respective towns; and, for want thereof, in the County
Clerk's office in the same county.
§ 63. Entails to be regulated
The Legislature shall regulate entails in such manner as to prevent
§ 64. Punishment at hard labor
To deter more effectually from the commission of crimes, by continued
visible punishments of long duration, and to make sanguinary punishments
less necessary, means ought to be provided for punishing by hard labor,
those who shall be convicted of crimes not capital, whereby the criminal
shall be employed for the benefit of the public, or for the reparation of
injuries done to private persons: and all persons at proper times ought to
be permitted to see them at their labor.
§ 65. Suicide's estate not forfeited; no deodand
The estates of such persons as may destroy their own lives, shall not,
for that offense, be forfeited, but shall descend or ascend in the same
manner as if such persons had died in a natural way. Nor shall any Article
which shall accidentally occasion the death of any person, be deemed a
deodand, or in any wise forfeited on account of such misfortune.
§ 66. Citizenship
Every person of good character, who comes to settle in this State, having
first taken an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the same, may purchase, or
by other just means acquire, hold and transfer land or other real estate; and
after one year's residence shall be deemed a free denizen thereof, and
entitled to all rights of a natural born subject of this State, except those
privileges, the right to which is herein elsewhere determined, and except also
that such person shall not be capable of being elected Treasurer, or
Representative in Assembly, until after two years' residence, nor be eligible
to the office of Governor or Lieutenant-Governor until the person shall have
resided in this State as required by section 23
of this Constitution.
§ 67. Hunting; fowling and fishing
The inhabitants of this State shall have liberty in seasonable times,
to hunt and fowl on the lands they hold, and on other lands not inclosed,
and in like manner to fish in all boatable and other waters (not private
property) under proper regulations, to be made and provided by the General
Laws to encourage virtue and prevent vice; schools; religious activities
Laws for the encouragement of virtue and prevention of vice and
immorality ought to be constantly kept in force, and duly executed; and a
competent number of schools ought to be maintained in each town unless the
general assembly permits other provisions for the convenient instruction
of youth. All religious societies, or bodies of people that may be united
or incorporated for the advancement of religion and learning, or for other
pious and charitable purposes, shall be encouraged and protected in the
enjoyment of the privileges, immunities, and estates, which they in justice
ought to enjoy, under such regulations as the general assembly of this state
§ 69. Charters, limit on right to grant
No charter of incorporation shall be granted, extended, changed or
amended by special law, except for such municipal, charitable,
educational, penal or reformatory corporations as are to be and remain
under the patronage or control of the State; but the General Assembly shall
provide by general laws for the organization of all corporations hereafter
to be created. All general laws passed pursuant to this section may be
altered from time to time or repealed.
§ 70. Workers' compensation
The General Assembly may pass laws compelling compensation for injuries
received by employees in the course of their employment resulting in death
or bodily hurt, for the benefit of such employees, their widows, widowers
or next of kin. It may designate the class or classes of employers and
employees to which such laws shall apply.
§ 71. Declaration of rights not to be violated
The Declaration of the political Rights and privileges of the
inhabitants of this State, is hereby declared to be a part of the
Constitution of this Commonwealth; and ought not to be violated on
any pretense whatsoever.
AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION
§ 72. Amending constitution
At the biennial session of the General Assembly of this State which
convenes in A.D. 1975, and at the biennial session convening every
fourth year thereafter, the Senate by a vote of two-thirds of its members,
may propose amendments to this Constitution, with the concurrence of a
majority of the members of the House of Representatives with the amendment
as proposed by the Senate. A proposed amendment so adopted by the Senate and
concurred in by the House of Representatives shall be referred to the next
biennial session of the General Assembly; and if at that last session a
majority of the members of the Senate and a majority of the House of
Representatives concur in the proposed amendment, it shall be the duty of
the General Assembly to submit the proposal directly to the voters of the
state. Any proposed amendment submitted to the voters of the state in
accordance with this section which is approved by a majority of the voters
voting thereon shall become part of the Constitution of this State.
Prior to the submission of a proposed amendment to a vote in accordance
with this section, public notice of the proposed amendment shall be given by
proclamation of the Governor.
The General Assembly shall provide for the manner of voting on amendments
proposed under this section, and shall enact legislation to carry the
provisions of this section into effect.
§ 73. Manner of apportionment of the general assembly
The General Assembly shall establish senatorial districts within and
including all of the state, and shall further establish representative
districts within and including all of the state.
At the biennial session following the taking of each decennial census
under the authority of Congress, and at such other times as the General
Assembly finds necessary, it shall revise the boundaries of the legislative
districts and shall make a new apportionment of its membership in order to
maintain equality of representation among the respective districts as nearly
as it is practicable. The General Assembly may provide for establishment of
a legislative apportionment board to advise and assist the General Assembly
concerning legislative apportionment. If the General Assembly fails to
revise the legislative districts as required in this section, the Supreme
Court in appropriate legal proceedings brought for that purpose may order
reapportionment of the districts.
§ 74. Extension of terms of certain officers
The persons severally elected in 1912 to the offices mentioned in
section 43 shall hold such offices until the
term of their successors elected the first Tuesday next after the
first Monday of November, A.D. 1914, shall begin as herein provided.
§ 75. Revision of chapter II
The Justices of the Supreme Court are hereby authorized and directed
to revise Chapter II of the Constitution by incorporating into said
Chapter all amendments of the Constitution that are now or may be then
in force and excluding therefrom all sections, clauses and words not in
force and rearranged and renumbering the sections thereof under appropriate
titles as in their judgment may be most logical and convenient; and said
revised Chapter II as certified to the Secretary of State by said
Justices or a majority thereof shall be a part of the Constitution of
this State in substitution for existing Chapter II and all amendments
§ 76. Inclusive language revision
The Justices of the Supreme Court are hereby authorized and directed
to revise Chapters I and II of the Constitution in gender inclusive
language. This revision shall not alter the sense, meaning or effect of
the sections of the Constitution. When the revision is certified by the
Justices or a majority thereof to the Secretary of State, it shall be a
substitute for existing Chapters I and II of the Constitution.