Constitution of 1838

In December 1838, delegates convened at St. Joseph to form Florida’s first state constitution. The convention completed its work in January 1839, although Florida was not officially admitted to the Union as a state until March 3, 1845.

Constitution of 1838


passage of every bill, and may, by any two members, be required upon any other question, and any member of either House shall have liberty to dissent from or protest against any act or resolution which he may think injurious to the public or an individual, and have the reasons of his dissent entered on the journal.

Section 12. Senators and Representatives shall in all cases, except treason, felony or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during the session of the General Assembly, and in going to or returning from the same, allowing one day for every twenty miles such member may reside from the place at which the General Assembly is convened, and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place.

Section 13. The General Assembly shall make provision by law for filling vacancies that may occur in either House by the death, resignation, (or otherwise,) of any of its members.

Section 14. The doors of each House shall be open, except on such occasions as, in the opinion of the House, the public safety may imperiously require secrecy.

Section 15. Neither House shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which they may be sitting.

Section 16. Bills may originate in either House of the General Assembly, and all bills passed by one House may be discussed, amended, or rejected by the other, but no bill shall have the force of law until on three several days it be read in each House, and free discussion be allowed thereon, unless in cases of urgency four-fifths of the House in which the same shall be depending may deem it expedient to dispense with the rule; and every bill having passed both Houses shall be signed by the Speaker and President of their respective Houses.

Section 17. Each member of the General Assembly shall receive from the public Treasury such compensation for his services as may be fixed by law, but no increase of compensation shall take effect during the term for which the Representatives were elected when such law passed.

Section 18. The number of members of the House of Representatives shall never exceed sixty.



Judicial Department.


Section 1. The Judicial power of this State, both as to matters of law and equity, shall be vested in a Supreme Court, Courts of Chancery, Circuit Courts and Justices of the Peace, provided the General Assembly may also vest such criminal jurisdiction as may be deemed necessary in Corporation Courts, but such jurisdiction shall not extend to capital offenses.

Section 2. The Supreme Court, except in cases otherwise directed in this Constitution, shall have appellate jurisdiction only, which shall be co-extensive with the State, under such restrictions and regulations, not repugnant to this Constitution, as may from time to time be prescribed by law, provided that the said Court shall always have power to issue writs of injunction, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus, and such other remedial and original writs as may be necessary to give it a general superintendence and control of all other Courts.

Section 3. For the term of five years from the election of the Judges of the Circuit Courts, and thereafter until the General Assembly shall otherwise provide, the powers of the Supreme Court shall be vested in, and its duties performed by the Judges of the several Circuit Courts within this State, and they, or a majority of them shall hold such sessions of the Supreme Court, and at such times as may be directed by law.

Section 4. The Supreme Court, when organized, shall be holden at such times and places as may be provided by law.

Section 5. The State shall be divided into at least four convenient Circuits, and until other Circuits shall be provided for by the General Assembly, the arrangement of the Circuits shall be the Western, Middle, Eastern and Southern Circuits, and for each Circuit there shall be appointed a Judge, who shall after his appointment, reside in the Circuit for which he has been appointed, and shall, at stated times, receive for his services a salary of not less than two thousand dollars per annum, which shall not be diminished