The Nebraska State Constitution


The Nebraska State Constitution

A Reference Guide, Second Edition

Robert D. Miewald, Peter J. Longo, and Anthony B. Schutz
Foreword by Robert M. Spire
With a new foreword by John M. Gradwohl

460 pages
appendix, 2 tables


January 2010


$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Nebraska Constitution is one of the oldest state constitutions in the United States. But it is far from stagnant: the 1875 document has been amended 227 times. Some of those changes were dramatic (such as creating the unicameral legislature) while others have been less so (for example, rearranging the provisions dealing with education in 1970). But all these changes tell a complex story of a lengthy document representing the will of the Nebraska citizenry as it responds to the needs of the day and the controversies of the time. That story is told here. The tools for further research are also provided in an accessible format.
This second edition of the only modern, comprehensive reference on the Nebraska Constitution has been completely revised and features an enhanced format, greater coverage of judicial doctrine, and up-to-date information on the latest constitutional amendments and case law. This easy-to-use single-volume guide is a valuable acquisition for any library serving students, scholars, legal professionals, and citizens.

Author Bio

Robert D. Miewald (1938–97) was a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the author of several books. Peter J. Longo is a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Anthony B. Schutz is an assistant professor of law at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Robert M. Spire (1925–94) served as Nebraska state attorney general in 1985. John M. Gradwohl is the Judge Harry A. Spencer Professor of Law at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Table of Contents


List of Tables 

Foreword to the second edition by John A. Gradwohl         

Foreword to the first edition by Robert M. Spire      

The History of the Nebraska State Constitution       

The Nebraska State Constitution, with Commentary



Article I: Bill of Rights          

Section 1. Statement of Rights          

Section 2. Slavery Prohibited

Section 3. Due Process of Law; Equal Protection     

Section 4. Religious Freedom

Section 5. Freedom of Speech and Press       

Section 6. Trial by Jury          

Section 7. Search and Seizure

Section 8. Habeas Corpus      

Section 9. Bail; Fines; Imprisonment; Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Section 10. Presentment or Indictment by Grand Jury; Information

Section 11. Rights of Accused          

Section 12. Evidence against Self; Double Jeopardy

Section 13. Justice Administered without Delay; Legislature; Authorization to Enforce Mediation and Arbitration        

Section 14. Treason    

Section 15. Penalties; Corruption of Blood; Transporting out of State Prohibited   

Section 16. Bill of Attainder; Retroactive Laws; Contracts; Special Privileges        

Section 17. Military Subordinate       

Section 18. Soldiers Quarters

Section 19. Right of Peaceable Assembly and to Petition Government

Section 20. Imprisonment for Debt Prohibited         

Section 21. Private Property Compensated For         

Section 22. Elections to Be Free        

Section 23. Capital Cases; Right of Direct Appeal; Effect; Other Cases; Right of Appeal  

Section 24. Repealed 

Section 25. Rights of Property; No Discrimination; Aliens   

Section 26. Powers Retained by the People  

Section 27. English Language to Be Official

Section 28. Crime Victims; Rights Enumerated; Effect; Legislature; Duties

Section 29. Marriage; Same-Sex Relationships Not Valid or Recognized

Section 30. Discrimination or Grant of Preferential Treatment Prohibited; Public Employment, Public Education, or Public Contracting; Section, How Construed; Remedies         

Article II: Distribution of Powers      

Section 1. Legislative, Executive, Judicial    

Article III: Legislative           

Section 1. Legislative Authority; How Vested; Power of Initiative; Power of Referendum                       

Section 2. First Power Reserved: Initiative   

Section 3. Second Power Reserved: Referendum     

Section 4. Initiative or Referendum; Signatures Required; Veto; Election Returns; Constitutional Amendments; Non-partisan Ballot       

Section 5. Legislative Districts; Apportionment; Redistricting; When Required

Section 6. Legislature; Number of Members; Annual Sessions         

Section 7. Legislators; Terms; Effect of Redistricting; Elections; Salary; Expenses; Mileage

Section 8. Legislators; Qualifications; One-Year Residence in District; Removal from District; Effect      

Section 9. Legislators; Disqualifications; Election to Other Office; Resignation Required  

Section 10. Legislative Sessions; Time; Quorum; Rules of Procedure; Expulsion of Members; Disrespectful Behavior; Penalty         

Section 11. Legislative Journal; Vote Viva Voce; Open Doors; Committee Votes

Section 12. Legislators; Terms; Limitations   

Section 13. Style of Bills; Majority Necessary to Passage; Yeas and Nays Entered on Journal       

Section 14. Bills and Resolutions Read by Title; Printing; Vote for Final Passage; Bills to Contain One Subject; Amended Section to Be Set Forth; Signing of Bills  

Section 15. Members Privileged from Arrest

Section 16. Members of Legislature and State Officers; Conflicts of Interest; Standards For        

Section 17. Impeachment; Procedure

Section 18. Local or Special Laws Prohibited           

Section 19. Compensation; Increase When; Extra Compensation to Public Officers and Contractors Prohibited; Retirement Benefits; Adjustment  

Section 20. Salt Springs, Coal, Oil, Minerals; Alienation Prohibited

Section 21. Donation of State Lands Prohibited; When       

Section 22. Appropriations for State; Deficiencies; Bills for Pay of Members and Officials           

Section 23. Repealed 

Section 24. Games of Chance, Lotteries, and Gift Enterprises; Restrictions; Pari-mutuel Wagering on Horse Races; Bingo Games; Use of State Lottery Proceeds

Section 25. Incidental Expenses of State Officers; Specific Appropriations Always Necessary; Warrants for Money  

Section 26. Privilege of Members      

Section 27. Acts Take Effect after Three Months; Emergency Bills; Session Laws 

Section 28. Repealed 

Section 29. Legislative Authority in Emergencies Due to Enemy Attack upon the United States  

Section 30. Legislature to Pass Necessary Laws       

Article IV: Executive 

Section 1. Executive Departments; Officers; When Elected; Terms; Eligibility; Books to Be Kept at Seat of Government; Residence of Officers; Heads of Departments; Appointments

Section 2. Governor; Lieutenant Governor; Eligibility; Qualifications; Appointive Officers; Ineligible for Other Offices               

Section 3. Treasurer; Ineligibility       

Section 4. Election Returns; Canvass by Legislature; Conduct of Election Contests           

Section 5. Impeachment        

Section 6. Supreme Executive Power

Section 7. Message by Governor; Budget; Contents; Budget Bill; Preparation; Appropriations Not to Be in Excess of Budget; Exception; Excess Subject to Veto

Section 8. Special Sessions    

Section 9. Repealed   

Section 10. Governor to Appoint Officers; Removal

Section 11. Elected State Officer; Vacation of Office; Governor Fills by Appointment; Term       

Section 12. Nonelective State Officers; Vacation; Governor Fills the Office by Appointment; Approval by Legislature        

Section 13. Board of Parole; Members; Powers; Reprieves; Proceedings; Power to Pardon; Limitations    

Section 14. Governor to Be Commander-in-Chief of Militia

Section 15. Bills to Be Presented to Governor; Approval; Procedure; Disapproval or Reduction of Items of Appropriation; Passage Despite Disapproval or Reduction     

Section 16. Order of Succession to Become Governor; Lieutenant Governor; Duties         

Section 17. Repealed 

Section 18. Repealed 

Section 19. State Institutions; Management, Control, and Government; Determination by Legislature      

Section 20. Public Service Commission; Membership; Terms; Powers         

Section 21. Repealed 

Section 22. Executive Officials to Keep Accounts; Reports; False Reports; Penalties         

Section 23. Executive Officials and Heads of Institutions; Reports to Legislature; Information from Expending Agencies    

Section 24. Great Seal           

Section 25. Salaries of Officials; Fees           

Section 26. Officials to Give Bonds  

Section 27. Executive Offices; Creation Of  

Section 28. Tax Equalization and Review Commission; Members; Powers; Tax Commissioner; Powers    

Article V: Judicial      

Section 1. Power Vested in Courts; Chief Justice; Powers   

Section 2. Supreme Court; Number of Judges; Quorum; Jurisdiction; Retired Judges; Temporary Duty; Court Divisions; Assignments by Chief Justice         

Section 3. Terms of Supreme Court   

Section 4. Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court; Selection; Residence; Location of Offices      

Section 5. Supreme Court Judicial Districts; Redistricting; When    

Section 6. Chief Justice to Preside    

Section 7. Chief Justice; Associate Justices; Qualifications  

Section 8. Supreme Court Appoints Staff; Budget; Copyright of State Reports                 

Section 9. District Courts; Jurisdiction; Felons May Plead Guilty; Sentence           

Section 10. District Court Judicial Districts  

Section 11. District Court Judges; Change of Number; Boundaries 

Section 12. District Court Judges May Hold Court for Each Other; Retired Judges; Temporary Duty       

Section 13. Supreme and District Judges; Salaries    

Section 14. Supreme and District Judges Not to Act as Attorneys; Judge Not to Practice Law; When      

Sections 15<EN>18. Repealed          

Section 19. Practice of All Courts to Be Uniform     

Section 20. Officers in This Article; Tenure; Residence; Duties; Compensation      

Section 21. Merit Plan for Selection of Judges; Terms of Office; Filling of Vacancies; Procedures; Voting for Nominee           

Section 22. State May Sue and Be Sued       

Section 23. Jurisdiction of Judges at Chambers        

Section 24. Style of Process  

Section 25. Supreme Court to Promulgate Rules of Practice; To Make Recommendations to Legislature  

Section 26. Proviso as to Effect of Amendment       

Section 27. Juvenile Courts; Authorization   

Section 28. Commission on Judicial Qualifications; Appointment; Composition; Qualifications    

Section 29. Commission on Judicial Qualifications; Vote of Majority Required for Action            

Section 30. Judges; Discipline; Removal from Office; Grounds; Procedure

Section 31. Judges; Procedure for Removal from Office Cumulative          

Article VI: Suffrage   

Section 1. Qualifications of Electors 

Section 2. Who Disqualified  

Section 3. Military or Naval Service; Place and Manner of Voting  

Section 4. Repealed   

Section 5. Electors; Privileged from Arrest   

Section 6. Votes, How Cast  

Article VII: Education           

Section 1. Legislature; Free Instruction in Common Schools; Provide

Section 2. State Department of Education; General Supervision of School System

Section 3. State Board of Education; Members; Election; Manner of Election; Term of Office      

Section 4. State Board of Education; Commissioner of Education; Appointment; Powers and Duties       

Section 5. Fines, Penalties, and License Money; Allocation; Use of Forfeited Conveyances          

Section 6. Educational Lands; Management; Board of Educational Lands and Funds; Members; Appointment; Sale of Lands    

Section 7. Perpetual Funds Enumerated        

Section 8. Trust Funds Belong to State for Educational Purposes; Use; Investment           

Section 9. Educational Funds; Trust Funds; Use; Early Childhood Education Endowment Fund; Created; Use; Early Childhood Education, Defined      

Section 10. University of Nebraska; Government; Board of Regents; Election; Student Membership; Terms  

Section 11. Appropriation of Public Funds; Handicapped Children; Sectarian Instruction; Religious Test of Teacher or Student

Section 12. Education and Reform of Minors           

Section 13. State Colleges; Government; Board; Name; Selection; Duties; Compensation 

Section 14. Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education; Membership; Powers and Duties; Coordination, Defined 

Section 15. Repealed and Omitted    

Sections 16 and 17. Repealed

Article VIII: Revenue

Section 1. Revenue; Raised by Taxation; Legislative Powers           

Section 1A. Levy of Property Tax for State Purposes; Prohibition   

Section 1B. Income Tax; May Be Based on Laws of the United States      

Section 2. Exemption of Property from Taxation; Classification      

Section 2A. Exemption of Personal Property in Transit in Licensed Warehouses or Storage Areas

Section 3. Redemption from Sales of Real Estate for Taxes 

Section 4. Legislature Has No Power to Remit Taxes; Exception; Cancellation of Taxes on Land Acquired by the State           

Section 5. County Taxes; Limitations

Section 6. Local Improvements of Cities, Towns, and Villages        

Section 7. Private Property Not Liable for Corporate Debts; Municipalities and Inhabitants Exempt for Corporate Purposes

Section 8. Funding Indebtedness; Warrants  

Section 9. Claims upon Treasury; Adjustment; Approval; Appeal    

Section 10. Taxation of Grain and Seeds; Alternative Basis Permitted

Section 11. Public Corporations and Political Subdivisions Providing Electricity; Payment in Lieu of Taxes              

Section 12. Cities or Villages; Redevelopment Project; Substandard and Blighted Property; Incur Indebtedness; Taxes; How Treated

Section 13. Revenue Laws and Legislative Acts; How Construed   

Article IX: Counties  

Section 1. Area          

Section 2. Division of County; Decision of Question           

Section 3. County Added to Another; Prior Indebtedness; County Stricken Off; Liabilities          

Section 4. County and Township Officers    

Section 5. Township Organization     

Article X: Public Service Corporations          

Section 1. Reports under Oath          

Section 2. Property Liable to Sale on Execution       

Section 3. Consolidation of Stock or Property          

Section 4. Railways Declared Public Highways; Maximum Rates; Liability Not Limited   

Section 5. Capital Stock; Dividends  

Section 6. Eminent Domain   

Section 7. Unjust Discrimination and Extortion        

Section 8. Eminent Domain for Depot and Other Uses        

Article XI: Municipal Corporations   

Section 1. Subscription to Stock Prohibited  

Section 2. City of 5, May Frame Charter; Procedures           

Section 3. Rejection of Charter; Effect; Procedure to Frame New Charter

Section 4. Charter; Amendment; Charter Convention          

Section 5. Charters of City of 100,; Home Rule Charter Authorized

Article XII: Miscellaneous Corporations       

Section 1. Legislature to Provide for Organization, Regulation, and Supervision of Corporations and Associations; Limitation; Elections for Directors or Managers; Voting Rights of Stockholders  

Sections 2<EN>6. Repealed  

Section 7. Repealed   

Section 8. Corporation Acquiring an Interest in Real Estate Used for Farming or Ranching or Engaging in Farming or Ranching; Restrictions; Secretary of State, Attorney General; Duties; Legislature; Powers              

Article XIII: State, County, and Municipal Indebtedness    

Section 1. State May Contract Debt; Limitations; Exceptions          

Section 2. Industrial and Economic Development; Powers of Counties and Municipalities

Section 3. Credit of the State; Exception      

Article XIV: Militia   

Section 1. Personnel; Organization; Discipline          

Article XV: Miscellaneous Provisions           

Section 1. Official Oath; Refusal; Disqualifications 

Section 2. Official in Default as Collector and Custodian of Public Money or Property; Disqualification; Felon Disqualified        

Section 3. Repealed   

Section 4. Water a Public Necessity  

Section 5. Use of Water Dedicated to the People     

Section 6. Right to Divert Unappropriated Waters   

Section 7. Use of Water for Power Purposes

Section 8. Employment of Women and Children; Minimum Wage  

Section 9. Controversies between Employers and Employees; Industrial Commission; Appeals                 

Section 10. Repealed 

Section 11. Repealed 

Section 12. Removal of State Capital

Section 13. Labor Organizations; No Denial of Employment; Closed Shop Not Permitted            

Section 14. Labor Organization; Definition  

Section 15. Labor Organizations; Amendment Self-Executing; Laws to Facilitate Operation Permitted    

Section 16. Repealed 

Section 17. Retirement and Pension Funds; Investment       

Section 18. Governmental Powers and Functions; Intergovernmental Cooperation; Legislature May Limit; Merger or Consolidation of Counties or Other Local Governments Authorized                    

Section 19. Liquor Licenses; Municipalities and Counties; Powers  

Sections 20<EN>24. Omitted           

Article XVI: Amendments    

Section 1. How Proposed      

Section 2. Convention           

Article XVII: Schedule         

Section 1. Terms; Reference to Members of the Legislature to Include Appointed and Elected Members 

Sections 2 and 3. Repealed    

Section 4. General Election of State  

Section 5. Terms of Office of All Elected Officers  

Section 6. Transferred to Article III, section 30        

Sections 7 and 8. Repealed    

Section 9. Repealed   

Section 10. Empty     

Section 11. Repealed 

Article XVIII: Term Limits on Congress      

Section 1. Statement of Intent           

Section 2. Instruction to Members of Congressional Delegation; Ballot Notation; When    

Section 3. Nonincumbent Candidates; Term Limits Pledge; Ballot Notation; When

Section 4. Instruction to Members of the Legislature; Ballot Notation; When

Section 5. Ballot Notation; Secretary of State; Duties; Appeal        

Section 6. Automatic Repeal; When  

Section 7. Legal Challenge; Jurisdiction        

Section 8. Severability           

Table of Cases





Also of Interest