Montana Constitution Home
Declaration of Rights
Section 1. Popular sovereignty. All
political power is vested in and derived from the people. All
government of right originates with the people, is founded upon
their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
Section 2. Self-government. The
people have the exclusive right of governing themselves as a free,
sovereign, and independent state. They may alter or abolish the
constitution and form of government whenever they deem it necessary.
Section 3. Inalienable rights. All
persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights. They
include the right to a clean and healthful environment and the
rights of pursuing life's basic necessities, enjoying and defending
their lives and liberties, acquiring, possessing and protecting
property, and seeking their safety, health and happiness in all
lawful ways. In enjoying these rights, all persons recognize
Section 4. Individual dignity. The
dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied
the equal protection of the laws. Neither the state nor any person,
firm, corporation, or institution shall discriminate against any
person in the exercise of his civil or political rights on account
of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, or
political or religious ideas.
Section 5. Freedom of religion. The
state shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Section 6. Freedom of assembly. The
people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, petition for
redress or peaceably protest governmental action.
Section 7. Freedom of speech, expression,
and press. No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of
speech or expression. Every person shall be free to speak or publish
whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of
that liberty. In all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the
truth thereof may be given in evidence; and the jury, under the
direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.
Section 8. Right of participation.
The public has the right to expect governmental agencies to afford
such reasonable opportunity for citizen participation in the
operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be
provided by law.
Section 9. Right to know. No person
shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe
the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state
government and its subdivisions, except in cases in which the demand
of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public
Section 10. Right of privacy. The
right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free
society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a
compelling state interest.
Section 11. Searches and seizures.
The people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes and
effects from unreasonable searches and seizures. No warrant to
search any place, or seize any person or thing shall issue without
describing the place to be searched or the person or thing to be
seized, or without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation
reduced to writing.
Section 12. Right to bear arms. The
right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home,
person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto
legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing
herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed
Section 13. Right of suffrage. All
elections shall be free and open, and no power, civil or military,
shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the
right of suffrage.
Section 14. Adult rights. A person 18
years of age or older is an adult for all purposes, except that the
legislature or the people by initiative may establish the legal age
for purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcoholic beverages.
Section 15. Rights of persons not adults.
The rights of persons under 18 years of age shall include, but not
be limited to, all the fundamental rights of this Article unless
specifically precluded by laws which enhance the protection of such
Section 16. The administration of
justice. Courts of justice shall be open to every person, and
speedy remedy afforded for every injury of person, property, or
character. No person shall be deprived of this full legal redress
for injury incurred in employment for which another person may be
liable except as to fellow employees and his immediate employer who
hired him if such immediate employer provides coverage under the
Workmen's Compensation Laws of this state. Right and justice shall
be administered without sale, denial, or delay.
Section 17. Due process of law. No
person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law.
Section 18. State subject to suit.
The state, counties, cities, towns, and all other local governmental
entities shall have no immunity from suit for injury to a person or
property, except as may be specifically provided by law by a 2/3
vote of each house of the legislature.
Section 19. Habeas corpus. The
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall never be suspended.
Section 20. Initiation of proceedings.
(1) Criminal offenses within the jurisdiction of any court inferior
to the district court shall be prosecuted by complaint. All criminal
actions in district court, except those on appeal, shall be
prosecuted either by information, after examination and commitment
by a magistrate or after leave granted by the court, or by
indictment without such examination, commitment or leave.
(2) A grand jury shall consist of eleven persons, of whom eight must
concur to find an indictment. A grand jury shall be drawn and
summoned only at the discretion and order of the district judge.
Section 21. Bail. All persons shall
be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses,
when the proof is evident or the presumption great.
Section 22. Excessive sanctions.
Excessive bail shall not be required, or excessive fines imposed, or
cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Section 23. Detention. No person
shall be imprisoned for the purpose of securing his testimony in any
criminal proceeding longer than may be necessary in order to take
his deposition. If he can give security for his appearance at the
time of trial, he shall be discharged upon giving the same; if he
cannot give security, his deposition shall be taken in the manner
provided by law, and in the presence of the accused and his counsel,
or without their presence, if they shall fail to attend the
examination after reasonable notice of the time and place thereof.
Section 24. Rights of the accused. In
all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to appear
and defend in person and by counsel; to demand the nature and cause
of the accusation; to meet the witnesses against him face to face;
to have process to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf,
and a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or
district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed,
subject to the right of the state to have a change of venue for any
of the causes for which the defendant may obtain the same.
Section 25. Self-incrimination and double
jeopardy. No person shall be compelled to testify against
himself in a criminal proceeding. No person shall be again put in
jeopardy for the same offense previously tried in any jurisdiction.
Section 26. Trial by jury. The right
of trial by jury is secured to all and shall remain inviolate. But
upon default of appearance or by consent of the parties expressed in
such manner as the law may provide, all cases may be tried without a
jury or before fewer than the number of jurors provided by law. In
all civil actions, two-thirds of the jury may render a verdict, and
a verdict so rendered shall have the same force and effect as if all
had concurred therein. In all criminal actions, the verdict shall be
Section 27. Imprisonment for debt. No
person shall be imprisoned for debt except in the manner provided by
law, upon refusal to deliver up his estate for the benefit of his
creditors, or in cases of tort, where there is strong presumption of
Section 28. Criminal justice policy --
rights of the convicted. (1) Laws for the punishment of crime
shall be founded on the principles of prevention, reformation,
public safety, and restitution for victims.
(2) Full rights are restored by termination of state supervision for
any offense against the state.
History: Amd. Const. Amend. No. 33, approved Nov. 3, 1998.
Section 29. Eminent domain. Private
property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just
compensation to the full extent of the loss having been first made
to or paid into court for the owner. In the event of litigation,
just compensation shall include necessary expenses of litigation to
be awarded by the court when the private property owner prevails.
Section 30. Treason and descent of
estates. Treason against the state shall consist only in levying
war against it, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and
comfort; no person shall be convicted of treason except on the
testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on his
confession in open court; no person shall be attainted of treason or
felony by the legislature; no conviction shall cause the loss of
property to the relatives or heirs of the convicted. The estates of
suicides shall descend or vest as in cases of natural death.
Section 31. Ex post facto, obligation of
contracts, and irrevocable privileges. No ex post facto law nor
any law impairing the obligation of contracts, or making any
irrevocable grant of special privileges, franchises, or immunities,
shall be passed by the legislature.
Section 32. Civilian control of the
military. The military shall always be in strict subordination
to the civil power; no soldier shall in time of peace be quartered
in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war,
except in the manner provided by law.
Section 33. Importation of armed persons.
No armed person or persons or armed body of men shall be brought
into this state for the preservation of the peace, or the
suppression of domestic violence, except upon the application of the
legislature, or of the governor when the legislature cannot be
Section 34. Unenumerated rights. The
enumeration in this constitution of certain rights shall not be
construed to deny, impair, or disparage others retained by the
Section 35. Servicemen, servicewomen, and
veterans. The people declare that Montana servicemen,
servicewomen, and veterans may be given special considerations
determined by the legislature.