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Arizona State and Constitution

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Arizona Statehood and Constitution

Arizona and Federal Government

November 18, 2012

Part 1: Arizona Statehood There are many events which impacted the process of Arizona becoming a state. Each of these events is not only historical, but they are what allowed the Arizona Constitution to be written in 1910 and to finally become a state in 1912. The Arizona Constitution, when first adopted, was seen as one of the most radical documents in the United States, and even today it still has many contrasts to the U.S. Constitution. Some of the events which helped to shape the Arizona Constitution, as well as make it an official state are the Pre-territorial Period, the Spanish Period, The Mexican Period, the U.S. Controlled Period, the Territorial Period and the impact of the Progressive movement on the creation of the Arizona constitution. First, the Pre-territorial Period is probably the most politically unknown because it is impossible to reconstruct how these prehistoric communities felt about politics and democracy. However, evidence shows that people inhabited Arizona for thousands of years before the Europeans. Indians were considered to be the “first citizens” established in Arizona, long before it became a state. There are three major cultures which lived in this state, which were the Apache, the Navajo, the Hohokam and Mogollon. The Hohokam disappeared around the mid 1400’s but historians do not know why. Each group was complex in their social organizations which showed that they were well established and sophisticated. The Indians significantly influenced the history of Arizona. Many of the cities, mountains, and other landmarks have Indian names and they are considered to be the “first Arizonans” and have a great deal of respect from those who currently live there.
The Spanish Period (1539-1821) is what started to bring about some independence to what we now call the state of Arizona. Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, accompanied by three other explorers, went across Texas and Arizona in 1539 in search of the “seven cities of gold”, which were known to have great wealth. In 1539, Marcos de Niza went back over the same trail that Cabeza de Vaca had taken to go to the “seven cities of gold”. They discovered what is now known as the Grand Canyon and the Hopi Indian Villages. These two discoveries did not possess gold but they did increase curiosity in Arizona and the Spanish continued to come. The middle 1600’s brought a lot more Spanish interest and also brought missions to the Indians. They taught the Indians, through a missionary named Father Kino, how to farm and tend to the cattle and sheep. As miners and farmers started to move to the land, where there was valuable evidence of minerals, the Indians began to strongly resist the Spanish. During this time, Tubac and Tuscon are labeled as being Arizona’s first towns in 1752 and 1775 and were the only real political authority in the region. Battles between the Spanish and the Indians from 1810-1821 brought about some of the worst battles in this part of the region. It was because of this that Arizona had very little progress in the journey towards statehood. After ten long years, Mexico won its independence from Spain. This brought about the Mexican Period from 1821-1848. It was during this period that Arizona began to connect with the United States. In 1824, “southern Arizona was initially made part of the state of Occidente. Although short-lived, the Constitution of Occidente was Arizona’s first written constitution” (McClory, 2010, p. 13). This particular constitution declared that the government would be “republican, representative, popular, and federal” (McClory, 2010, p. 13) and it had a three-branch government very similar to the three-branch government that we have today. It is important to note that in 1831, “Occidente was split into two separate states, and southern Arizona became part of the Mexican state of Sonora” (McClory, 2010, p. 13). In 1846, President James Polk declared war with Mexico and it was around this time that Arizona started the process of becoming the 48th state. The U.S. Control Period (1848-1863) finally started to bring about some change. After the Mexican War, the U.S. extended its territory to where there was gold, mostly in the state of California. Because of how the United States was expanding and gaining territory, the government felt the need to connect the Eastern and Western parts of the country. It was because of this that the very first stagecoach lines were built in Arizona in 1857 and the first railroad going through just twenty years later. Amidst the wars between the states and the Gadsden Purchase, more settlers started to move into southern Arizona looking for gold and silver because of the gold rush in California. Many settled on the Santa Cruz River and mines were opened. It was around this time that many wanted to separate Arizona from New Mexcio, but with the current civil war ongoing, Congress did not pay much attention. It was not until 1862 that Arizona was recognized as a separate territory.
The Territorial Period (1863-1912) is what finally brought about Arizona becoming an official state. In 1863, the United States Congress created a Territory of Arizona and in the year of 1891 Arizona drafted a state constitution which Congress ignored. They had several reasons as to why they opposed Arizona’s statehood. It was not until 1910 when Congress passed the Enabling Act, which gave certain rules and conditions for attaining statehood, that Arizona was finally able to start moving forward after being turned down many times by Congress. Finally, on February 14, 1912, statehood was claimed. This statehood was claimed during the peak of the Progressive Movement, which was a time of when people felt that citizens should have more power in political decisions. A good majority of the people who drafted Arizona’s Constitution were avid Progressives so therefore, the Arizona Constitution had included initiative, referendum and recall; all three of these are main focal points in direct democracy. The Progressives “pushed for the adoption of the initiative (to allow citizens to bypass officials and enact their own statutes and constitutional measures), the referendum (to allow citizens to reject statutes and constitutional measures adopted by officials), and the recall (to allow citizens to remove officials from office before the end of their terms)” (McClory & McClory, 2011, para. 1). The Progressive movement played a huge part the creation of the Arizona constitution, including the declaration of rights, ballot initiatives, and recall of judges.

All in all, the history that lies behind Arizona becoming a state is quite unique. All of the events which helped to shape the Arizona Constitution, as well as make it an official state, left a huge impact on the state today effecting greatly how it is governed.

McClory, T. (2010). Understand The Arizona Constitution (2nd ed.). Tuscon: The University of Arizona Press.
McClory, T., & McClory, T. (2011, February). Arizona’s Direct Democracy. Retrieved
November 12, 2012, from

Part II: Arizona Constitution
Arizona’s Three Branches of Government I. Executive Branch – Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Mine Inspector, Arizona Corporation Commissioners a. Governor – Four year terms, 25 years of age, US Citizen for 10 years, Arizona resident for 5 years, registered voter and English proficient. i. Appointment Powers – power to select heads of state agencies ii. Removal Powers – limited, but can remove people from different agencies for any reason iii. Fiscal Powers – major participant in the state’s appropriations process iv. Military Powers – commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces (the National Guard) v. Three Lawmaking Powers – vi. Power to propose new legislation vii. Power to call the legislation into special session viii. Veto Power ix. Judicial Powers – power to appoint judges x. Clemency Powers xi. Reprieve xii. Communication xiii. Pardon xiv. Informal Powers – powers that can reinforce the governor’s formal authority b. Secretary of State xv. First in line of succession to the governor xvi. Main responsibilities 1. Elections 2. Recordkeeping c. Attorney General xvii. State’s top legal advisor xviii. Second in line of succession to the governor xix. Provides legal advice to other elected officials xx. Serves as the state’s lawyer in noncriminal litigations xxi. Plays important role in law enforcement d. State Treasurer xxii. State’s chief financial officer 3. Safeguards, invests, audits and disburses billions of dollars that belong to the state xxiii. Servers on many official boards involved with financial issues xxiv. Does not require special training in accounting or financing e. Superintendent of Public Instruction xxv. State’s highest-ranking education official xxvi. Directs the Arizona Department of Education f. State Mine Inspector xxvii. Elected every four years / head of mining operations within the state g. Arizona Corporation Commissioners xxviii. Regulates cooperation’s (certified businesses) II. The Legislative Branch – Arizona State Legislature, Bill Information and Congressional Delegation h. Arizona State Legislature xxix. Structure 4. Collective – take official action when a majority or more of its ninety members agree 5. Representative Body – legislatures are elected from small districts throughout the state. xxx. Length of Terms 6. 2-year term 7. Term limits – cannot serve more than four consecutive terms xxxi. Citizen Legislature – short terms, minimal qualifications, short sessions, low compensation 8. Qualifications – 25 years old, US Citizen, Arizona resident (3 years), county resident (1 year), registered voter and English proficient. 9. Sessions – part-time legislations xxxii. Organization of the Legislature 10. Legislative Leaders a. Leader of senate = president b. Leader of the house = speaker i. The leader’s powers 1. Parliamentary powers 2. Administrative powers 3. Appointive powers 4. Referral powers over bills 11. Standing and ad hoc committees 12. Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) 13. The majority party xxxiii. Responsibilities of the Legislature – Two main tasks 14. To make and revise the laws of the state 15. To appropriate money for government operations III. The Judicial Branch – i. The Court System xxxiv. Justice of the peace (JP or justice) courts 16. Located in every county 17. Most handle traffic cases that do not result in injury 18. Jurisdiction over minor criminal cases / landlord-tenant disputes xxxv. Municipal courts 19. Traffic violations and minor crimes 20. Handle city ordinances and codes 21. Authorize search warrants and issue injunctions in domestic violence and harassment cases xxxvi. Arizona Superior Courts 22. State’s major trial courts 23. Handles most serious criminal and civil cases 24. All felony trials and death penalty sentences 25. Formal – Twelve person jury xxxvii. Arizona Court of Appeals 26. Handles appeals from cases that were originally tried elsewhere 27. Does not conduct trials nor does it consider new evidence xxxviii. Arizona Supreme Court 28. State’s last resort court 29. Reviews all death penalty cases 30. Only takes cases with the greatest statewide importance 31. Five judges, or justices, reside in this court IV. Procedures for amending the Arizona Constitution j. Two Steps xxxix. First Step = Three methods for amending the Arizona Constitution 32. Constitutional Initiative Process c. Voters can propose amendments (this is done with ballots) 33. Constitutional Referendum Process d. Legislature can propose amendments 34. Constitutional Convention (never been used in state of Arizona) e. Delegates propose an amendment at a special convention k. Step Two = Ratification xl. No matter how the amendment comes about, it must be approved by the majority of voters xli. Nothing can be added, removed or altered with the people’s approval

Amendment process for the Arizona Constitution When it comes to the amendment process for the Arizona Constitution, it seems to be a very cut and dry type system. As outlined above, there are three different ways in which the Arizona Constitution can be amended.
The first way is the voters can propose amendments through what is called the constitutional initiative process. The second way is the legislation can propose amendments through the constitutional referendum process. And the third way, which has never been used, can be done through a convention proposed by the delegates. After the proposal has been made, no matter which group proposes it, it must then appear on a ballot and it must be approved by the majority of voters.
The question “is this a fair process” is asked by many. The answer to this question would depend on who was asked. Many would say that yes, this is a fair process simply because it allows the people to have a voice in how their state is run by government officials. Yet, others would say that no, it is not a fair process simply because it puts too much power in the hands of the people of Arizona. Truthfully, both sides to this can be seen. Many people are on the fence when it comes to this issue. Arizona’s Constitution is already seen as one of the most radical state Constitutions in the nation and this is because of the fact that the people have a very heavy say in what is done with their Constitution. On one hand, it is great that the voters are able to play an active role in their government, yet on the other hand, when you get a radical group that is passionate about changing something that does not need to be changed in the Arizona Constitution, chaos can erupt.
The Progressive framers were all about Arizona being a direct democracy, so how would they feel today knowing that the people of Arizona have such a strong voice in their state? It is important to note that the Progressive Framers felt that citizens should have more power in political decisions, which is why the Progressive Movement played such a large role in Arizona becoming a state. A good majority of the people who drafted Arizona’s Constitution were avid Progressives, so therefore, the Arizona Constitution had included initiative, referendum and recall; all three of these are main focal points in direct democracy. Considering how passionate the Progressive Framers were about direct democracy, they would be pleased with how Arizona has continued to be run as just that.
While there are pros and cons to how Arizona’s Constitution can be amended, one thing remains and that is the fact that the voters have not sought to change the fact that Arizona is a direct democracy and they have a voice in how their government is run.

McClory, T. (2010). Understand The Arizona Constitution (2nd ed.). Tuscon: The University of Arizona Press.
McClory, T., & McClory, T. (2011, February). Arizona’s Direct Democracy. Retrieved
November 12, 2012, from

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