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Understanding Missouri's Constitutional Government

Richard Fulton and Jerry Brekke

Publication Year: 2010


In the study of American government, analysis of state governments is often neglected in favor of concentration on the national system. Certainly in-depth knowledge of our country’s constitutional structure is critical to an understanding of American government, but this continuing inattention to the complexities of state governments has left a hole in the literature available to help us understand the role state governments play in the federal system. State constitutions served as guides for the construction of the U.S. Constitution, but they have their own character and significance. As such, it is imperative that teachers, students, and historians fully understand the creation, administration, and adjudication of state governments.
            Understanding Missouri’s Constitutional Government presents a case study in the foundations of state governments. The book provides a sweeping look at the constitutional foundations of the processes of Missouri government. Authors Richard Fulton and Jerry Brekke place Missouri within the context of our larger federal system while using the state’s constitution as a touchstone for the discussion of each element of state government.
            Understanding Missouri’s Constitutional Government has a dual framework specifically designed to enhance the reader’s learning experience. First, the essential elements of government outlined in the constitution are introduced, and then analysis and interpretation of each of the document’s articles is covered. This organization permits readers to build an understanding of a particular element—for example, the legislature—by learning its fundamental organization, processes, and purposes in a straightforward manner. After gaining that primary perspective, the reader can use the formal analysis in the second section to explore interpretations of each article. Not only helpful to the general reader, this two-part structure makes the text especially useful in courses on American government, state and local governments, and particularly Missouri government and constitution. 
            In short, Understanding Missouri’s Constitutional Government is an approachable, valuable exposition on Missouri government as reflected in the day-to-day operations outlined in the Missouri constitution. It fills a significant gap in the literature on the interpretation, use, and operation of state constitutions. Since Missouri law dictates that all levels of education should teach government and constitution at the national and state levels, this book will be an indispensible resource for educators while serving as a valuable reference for journalists and public officials in the state.

Published by: University of Missouri Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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Introduction: The Federalist Environment

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pp. 1-8

Understanding state and local governments means it is necessary to understand the relationships of these governments to the overall environment of American government. That means having some basic insight into the foundation of that government—its federal nature...

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1. The Missouri State Constitution

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pp. 9-17

The constitution of Missouri, like all state constitutions, is grounded in the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment writings of Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and others. These ideals were cemented into the American environment in the earliest state constitutions and then into the U.S. Constitution of...

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2. The Bill of Rights and Distribution of Powers

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pp. 18-49

When we refer to the philosophical elements of the constitution in Figure 1.1, what we mean is that there are statements of principle and ideals placed in the Missouri Constitution that are virtually absent from the U.S. version. The first of these statements reflects the fact that Missouri, as are...

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3. The Legislature

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pp. 50-81

This is the first of three chapters exploring the branches of government as they are defined and operate in Missouri. The method will consist of an introductory essay at the beginning of each chapter on the branch being discussed. This introduction will give an overview of the structure and operation of the chapter’s branch of government. Following that, the text...

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4. The Executive Department

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pp. 82-106

State executive departments differ significantly from the federal executive in basic ways. First, all states directly elect more than one executive, and, second, the constitutions of states have the tendency to specifically outline the structure of the executive. Most states separately elect by statewide ballot four to eight executives. These executives have separate constitutional...

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5. The Judiciary

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pp. 107-122

In this chapter we are interested in describing the structure and functioning of the Missouri judicial system: Article V of the constitution. Because most laws, civil and criminal, are state laws, it follows that the greater load of the American judicial system falls upon the state court systems. The fundamentals of the American approach to justice apply to the state courts...

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6. Miscellaneous Articles: Articles VI–XIII

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pp. 123-144

Articles VI–XIII of the Missouri Constitution deal with a great variety of issues, topics as diverse as providing a framework for local governmental units such as counties and cities to the penalty for nepotism. Other subjects considered are taxation, education, railroads, corporations, banks, suffrage and elections, public officers, the manner in which amendments...

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Conclusion: An Evolving Document

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pp. 145-148

The Missouri Constitution has come a long way since its first manifestation in 1820. Then the only elected officials at the state level were the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the General Assembly. Few limits were placed on the legislature except to maintain the institution of slavery. Ironically, the post–Civil War constitution of 1865 could be characterized...


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pp. 149-156


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pp. 157-161

About the Authors, Back Cover

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pp. 176-177

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272294
E-ISBN-10: 0826272290
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826219039
Print-ISBN-10: 0826219039

Page Count: 175
Illustrations: 5 tables
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1