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Statutory Research Basics: Constitution

U.S. Constitution

U.S. Constitution

The United States Constitution was created on September 17, 1787. The following annotated editions of the United States Constitution can be found online or at the Gould Law Library at:

  • The Charters of Freedom:  Operated by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, you can view and read transcripts of the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.
  • The Constitution Annotated: Operated by the Library of Congress, this resource provides the text of the U.S. Constitution together with legal analysis and constitutional interpretation. It is an invaluable resource when doing research into federal constitutional law.
  • Lexis:  Type USCS - Constitution of the United States into the main search box.  Before you hit the search button, a drop down menu will appear with a link to the document. Click this and it will take you to the table of contents.  You can then view each section using the drop down arrows.
  • Westlaw: In the main search box, begin typing U.S. Constitution.  Before you hit the search button, a drop down menu will appear. Under suggestions in the content pages section, click the link for the Constitution. It will take you to the table of contents. You can then view each section using the plus signs. 
  • Bloomberg: In the main search box begin typing U.S. ConstitutionBefore you hit the search button, a drop down menu will appear. Click the link for the Constitution to be taken to the table of contents page. You can view the sections by clicking the plus sign or search by keyword in the search bar. 
  • The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and InterpretationThis includes annotations of the most important Supreme Court cases. It also includes historical information, such as Supreme Court dissenting opinions and overruled decisions, as well as proposed amendments and laws that were deemed unconstitutional. Print copy available at KF4527.A3 (Reference) (also available online at Gov Info)

Other State Constitutions

State Constitutions 

If you're looking for a State Constitution, you can often find links to the text online, for free, at the State's official website.  

The Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) also has a list of links for the laws of all fifty states. This list includes not just each state's constitution but important links for other state government websites such as the judiciary and links to court rules or state regulations.

Additionally, you can find this information on Westlaw or Lexis in the same way you would look for the US or New York State constitution.

New York Constitution

New York Constitution

The first New York State Constitution was adopted on April 20, 1777. Since then, four subsequent Constitutions were adopted; the last in 1938 (which has been amended since then, but not replaced.)  You can find the text on line at:

  • New York State Senate:  The New York State Senate offers the entire text of the current constitution. It is updated with any amendments and is completely free to view. 
  • Historical Society of the New York Courts: On this site you can view the first New York Constitution (in its original form and a transcript of its text), and read the text of the second Constitution (1821), the third Constitution (1846), the fourth Constitution (1894), and the current Constitution (1938).  You can also read the text of the New York Bill of Rights, passed in 1787. This service is provided for free.
  • Lexis:  Click State under the search bar then click New York. Under Statutes & Legislation click NY - New York Constitution.  You can then view each section using the plus signs.
  • Westlaw: In the main search box, begin typing New York Constitution.  Before you hit the search button, a drop down menu will appear. Under suggestions in the content pages section, click the link for the Constitution. It will take you to the table of contents. You can then view each section using the plus signs.

Constitutional History of New York

Constitutional History of New York

This highly valuable resource, first published in 1906, is a five volume treatise on New York State Constitutional History, authored by Charles Z. Lincoln. You will find the original text of each of the five adopted Constitutions, as well as other key documents and research resources for New York's Constitutional history. You can access this resource in print and online.

International Constitutions

International Constitutions

The Constitute Project offers pdf downloads and online copies of many constitutions from around the world. You can find the list of countries here. Also available are datasets and further information of each constitution and its history. William S. Hein and Company, the Oxford University Press, and International IDEA, provided the majority of the information.

International materials are also available on Westlaw and Lexis although the information is not always complete. You can find international material on Lexis by clicking the tab that says International beneath the search bar. On Westlaw you can find international material by scrolling down to the specialty areas section and clicking International Materials.