Article I, Section 24 of the Texas Constitution ("Military Subordinate to Civil Authority")

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Adopted February 15, 1876:

The military shall at all times be subordinate to the civil authority.

Editor Comments

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, adopted in 1776, read in part: "[I]n all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power."

The Declaration of Rights of the Republic of Texas, adopted in 1836, read in part: "The military shall at all times and in all cases be subordinate to the civil power."

The constitutions of most of the other states contain a provision similar to this section expressly establishing the supremacy of civil authority over military authority.

Steve Smith

Recent Decisions


Historic Decisions

  • Cole v. Texas Army Nat'l Guard, 909 S.W.2d 535, 538 n.3 (Tex.App.–Austin 1995, denied) ("So long as the courts are open and able to act effectively, the fundamental rule is this: 'The military shall at all times be subordinate to the civil authority.' Tex. Const. art. I, § 24. The powers and duties of the Adjutant General of Texas 'are derived from, they must be found in, the civil law. At no time and under no conditions are [his] actions above court inquiry or court review.' . . . Thus, there can be no question of the district court's power to inquire whether a military officer's administrative order exceeds his or her authority. See, e.g., State v. Sparks, 27 Tex. 627 (1864).")
  • State v. Sparks, 27 Tex. 627, 633 (1864) ("But the high position of this officer and the important duties with which he . . . . Better far would it have been, for the prisoners who are in custody of the court, though doubly guilty beyond all that has been charged against them, to go unwhipped of justice than for the civil authorities of the state to be subordinated to military control, and made dependent upon the consent of the latter for the exercise of their legitimate functions. The one, though to be deprecated, would be of comparatively little importance, but the other would be a vital blow at the constitution, and the principle upon which our government is organized.")

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