Vanderbilt Law Review


Edwin F. Hunt

First Page



During the period under consideration the most important developments for Tennessee in the field of Constitutional Law were amendments to the State Constitution. This Constitution, adopted in 1870, was the oldest unamended constitution in the United States until eight proposed amendments were ratified by the voters on November 3, 1953. That the Tennessee Constitution had been unchanged for so many years was the result of several factors, most obvious of which was the fact that such constitution was especially difficult to amend.

under the amending provision' amendments required approval of a majority of the entire membership of both Houses of one Legislature, approval of two-thirds of the members of both Houses of the next Legislature, followed by ratification at an election at which such proposals are approved "by a majority of all the citizens of the State, voting for Representatives, voting in their favor... ." Hence, an amendment finally proposed for ratification at an election was not necessarily adopted when approval was given by a majority, or even an overwhelming majority, of those voting with respect to it. Those who stayed away from the polls or refrained from voting were, in practical effect, casting a negative vote. It is obvious why both lawyers and political scientists have stressed the extreme difficulty of adopting specific amendments by this method.