We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government, for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings and secure the same to our selves and posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
We do declare and establish, ratify and confirm, the following as the permanent boundaries of the State of Arkansas, that is to say: Beginning at the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi River, on the parallel of thirty-six degrees of north latitude, running thence west with said parallel of latitude to the middle of the main channel of the St. Francis River; thence up the main channel of said last-named river to the parallel of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes of north latitude; thence west with the southern boundary line of the State of Missouri to the southwest corner of said last-named state; thence to be bounded on the west to the north bank of Red River, as by act of Congress and treaties existing January 1, 1837, defining the western limits of the Territory of Arkansas, and to be bounded across and south of Red River by the boundary line of the State of Texas as far as to the northwest corner of the State of Louisiana; thence easterly with the northern boundary line of said last-named State to the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi River; thence up the middle of the main channel of said last-named river, including an island in said river known as "Belle Point Island," and all other land originally surveyed and included as a part of the Territory or State of Arkansas, to the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude, the place of beginning.
The seat of government of the state of Arkansas shall be and remain at Little Rock, where it is now established.
All political power is inherent in the people and government is instituted for their protection, security and benefit; and they have the right to alter, reform or abolish the same in such manner as they may think proper.
All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The equality of all persons before the law is recognized, and shall ever remain inviolate; nor shall any citizen ever be deprived of any right, privilege or immunity, nor exempted from any burden or duty, on account of race, color or previous condition.
The right of the people peaceably to assemble to consult for the common good, and to petition, by address or remonstrance, the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.
The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms for their common defense.
The liberty of the press shall forever remain inviolate. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man; and all persons may freely write and publish their sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of such right. In all criminal prosecutions for libel the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and, if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party charged shall be acquitted.
The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and shall extend to all cases at law, without regard to the amount in controversy; but a jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases in the manner prescribed by law; and in all jury trials in civil cases, where as many as nine of the jurors agree upon a verdict, the verdict so agreed upon shall be returned as the verdict of such jury, provided, however, that where a verdict is returned by less than twelve jurors all the jurors consenting to such verdict shall sign the same.
This amendment to the Constitution of Arkansas shall be self-executing and require no enabling act, but shall take and have full force and effect immediately upon its adoption by the electors of the State. [As amended by Const. Amend. 16.]
No person shall be held to answer a criminal charge unless on the presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases of impeachment or cases such as the General Assembly shall make cognizable by justices of the peace, and courts of similar jurisdiction, or cases arising in the army and navy of the United States; or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; and no person, for the same offense, shall be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty; but if, in any criminal prosecution, the jury be divided in opinion, the court before which the trial shall be had may, in its discretion, discharge the jury, and commit or bail the accused for trial at the same or the next term of said court; nor shall any person be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law. All persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor shall excessive fines be imposed; nor shall cruel or unusual punishment be inflicted; nor witnesses be unreasonably detained.
In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by impartial jury of the county in which the crime shall have been committed; provided that the venue may be changed to any other county of the judicial district in which the indictment is found, upon the application of the accused, in such manner as now is, or may be, prescribed by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof; and to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witness in his favor, and to be heard by himself and his counsel.
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, except by the General Assembly, in case of rebellion, insurrection or invasion, when the public safety may require it.
No power of suspending or setting aside the law or laws of the State shall ever be exercised except by the General Assembly.
Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs he may receive in his person, property or character; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without purchase, completely, and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformably to the laws.
Treason against the State shall only consist in levying and making war against the same, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The right of the people of this State to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.
No person shall be imprisoned for debt in any civil action, on mesne or final process, unless in cases of fraud.
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law or law impairing the obligation of contracts shall ever be passed; and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.
The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen or class of citizens privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.
Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a republic, and shall not be allowed; nor shall any hereditary emoluments, privileges or honors ever be granted or conferred in this State.
No distinction shall ever be made by law between resident aliens and citizens in regard to the possession, enjoyment or descent of property.
No person shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of his estate, freehold, liberties or privileges; or outlawed, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, except by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land; nor shall any person, under any circumstances, be exiled from the State.
The right of property is before and higher than any constitutional sanction; and private property shall not be taken, appropriated or damaged for public use, without just compensation therefor.
The State's ancient right of eminent domain and of taxation is herein fully and expressly conceded; and the General Assembly may delegate the taxing power, with the necessary restriction, to the State's subordinate political and municipal corporations to the extent of providing for their existence, maintenance and well being, but no further.
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship above any other.
Religion, morality and knowledge being essential to good government, the General Assembly shall enact suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.
No religious test shall ever be required of any person as a qualification to vote or hold office, nor shall any person be rendered incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths or affirmations.
There shall be no slavery in this State, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. No standing army shall be kept in time of peace; the military shall at all times be in strict subordination to the civil power; and no soldier shall be quartered in any house, or on any premises, without the consent of the owner in time of peace; nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law.
All lands in this State are declared to be allodial; and feudal tenures of every description, with all their incidents, are prohibited.
This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people and to guard against any encroachments on the rights herein retained, or any transgression of any of the higher powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of the government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and that all laws contrary thereto, or to the other provisions herein contained, shall be void.