Article I, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution ("Inherent Political Power; Republican Form of Government")

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Adopted February 15, 1876:

All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.

Editor Comments

This section sets forth several longstanding principles of Anglo-American democracy.

However, the exact meaning of the phrase "republican form of government" is not clear.

Steve Smith

Recent Decisions


Historic Decisions

  • Bonner v. Belsterling, 138 S.W. 571, 574-75 (Tex. 1911) ("The policy of reserving to the people such power as the recall, the initiative, and the referendum is a question for the people themselves in framing the government, or for the Legislature in the creation of municipal governments. It is not for the courts to decide that question. We are unable to see from our viewpoint how it can be that a larger measure of sovereignty, committed to the people by this method of government, and a more certain measure of securing a proper representation in any way militates against its character as a republican form of government.")
  • Ex parte Farnsworth, 135 S.W. 535, 538 (Tex.Crim.App. 1911) ("Local self-government is that and that only which is provided or authorized by the Constitution, is to be found in the delegation of authority, is based on the idea of representative government, and cannot under any circumstances under our Constitution be a pure democracy. All government with us finds its initial source in the Constitution–not outside of it–and any government that is in contravention or subversive of the Constitution is necessarily vicious and void. . . . If what has been stated is correct, then the ordinance in question is void.")
  • Solon v. State, 114 S.W. 349, 353-54 (Tex.Crim.App. 1908) ("In them collectively is lodged our political power, and this power is declared to be inherent. It is but another way of stating the fundamental truth on which our free institutions are based, the right of the majority to rule. . . . [T]he whole opinion proceeds, to some extent at least, on the erroneous assumption that our state Constitution is in the nature of a grant of power. The true rule and theory is that all power adheres in the people in their collective capacity, except such as is in terms granted to the federal government, or the exercise of which is prohibited in the Constitution.")
  • Brown v. City of Galveston, 75 S.W. 488, 495 (Tex. 1903) ("The doctrine contended for is antagonistic to the fundamental principles of our state government, as we understand them. . . . Again, in section 2, it is said that 'all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit.' This is a true declaration of the principles of republican state governments. However, it does not mean that political power is inherent in a part of the people of a state, but in the body who have the right to control, by proper legislation, the entire state and all of its parts.")
  • Jones v. Shaw, 15 Tex. 577, 580 (1855) ("[I]t is self-evident that there can be no such thing as a right to the emoluments of an office which has no existence; nor can there be any civil right in contravention of the inherent inalienable right of the people to change their form of government at pleasure: none which will operate an incumbrance, so to speak, upon the right of revolution; which there certainly would be if the right claimed in this case could be maintained. When the office of president of the republic of Texas ceased, by force of the change of government, all the rights appertaining to that office necessarily ceased with it.")

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