Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Maryland Resources In-Depth

This State Guide provides an in-depth look at sources of law in Maryland.

Constitution

Maryland's present constitution was ratified September 18, 1867, but has been amended approximately 200 times. The General Assembly can propose amendments to the Maryland Constitution. Each amendment must be proposed in a separate bill, embodying the constitutional article or section. Amendments must first be approved by three-fifths of all the members elected to each of the two houses of the General Assembly, then published in newspapers around the state and approved by a majority of Maryland voters. Md. Const. art. XIV, § 1.

Every 20 years (beginning in 1970), as part of the general election, Maryland voters must decide whether to call a constitutional convention for the drafting of a new constitution. If such a convention is called, any draft constitution it produces must be approved by a majority of Maryland voters. Md. Const. art XIV, § 2.

Maryland had three other constitutions before the Constitution of 1867: 1776, 1851, and 1864.

A. Where to Find the Maryland Constitutions and Proceedings of the Constitutional Conventions?

1. CURRENT CONSTITUTION

The Constitution of Maryland can be found in the following publications:

2. HISTORIC CONSTITUTIONS

a. The Maryland Constitution of 1776 is available from the Maryland State Archives.The Archives also provide copies of the Amendments to the 1776 Constitution.

b. Francis Newton Thorpe, ed. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies. (1909). [KF4530 .T46 1909]. Maryland documents are in volume 3, pp. 1669-1826.

c. William F. Swindler, ed. Sources and Documents of United States Constitutions. (1973-1979). [KF4530 .S94]. Maryland documents, including the Draft Constitution of 1968 (which was never ratified) are in Volume 4.

3. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS

Many of the proceedings of the various constitutional conventions have been digitized and are available from the Maryland State Archives. The Williams Library also has the proceedings in print:

  • The Decisive Blow is Struck: A Facsimile Edition of the Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of 1776 and the First Maryland Constitution with an introduction by Edward C. Papenfuse, Gregory A. Stiverson. [KFM1601 1776 .A223 1977].

  • Debates and Proceedings of the Maryland Reform Convention to Revise the State Constitution ... / published by order of the convention. [ KFM1601 1851 .A22; 2 volumes].

  • The Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Maryland: Assembled at the City of Annapolis, Wednesday, April 27, 1864 ... / Official Wm. Blair Lord, reporter; Henry M. Parkhurst, assistant. [ KFM1601 1864 .A22; 3 volumes].

  • Proceedings of the State Convention of Maryland: To Frame a New Constitution, Commenced at Annapolis, May 8, 1867. [KFM1601 1867 .A2].