Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Washington State Constitution Research

Washington State, General—Post-1980

Michael Bindas, David K. DeWolf & Michael J. Reitz, The Washington Supreme Court and the State Constitution: A 2010 Assessment, 46 Gonz. L. Rev. 1 (2011).

Cornell W. Clayton, Toward a Theory of the Washington Constitution, 37 Gonz. L. Rev. 41 (2001-2002)

Kelly Kunsch, Washington State Constitutional Research: A Recipe for a Gunwall Analysis, Wash. St. B. News Oct. 1995, at 31. HeinOnline

Brian Snure, A Frequent Recurrence to Fundamental Principles: Individual Rights, Free Government, and the Washington State Constitution, 67 Wash. L. Rev. 669 (1992)

Hugh D. Spitzer, New Life for the "Criteria Tests" in State Constitutional Jurisprudence: "Gunwall Is Dead–—Long Live Gunwall!," 37 Rutgers L. J. 1169 (2006), Internet Archive, HeinOnline

Hugh D. Spitzer, Which Constitution? Eleven Years of Gunwall in Washington State, 21 Seattle U. L. Rev. 1187 (1998)

Hugh D. Spitzer, Washington: The Past and Present Populist State, in The Constitutionalism of American States 771 ( (George E. Connor and Christopher W. Hammons eds., 2008)

Charles K. Wiggins, Charles S. Voorhees and the Omnibus Admission Act, Wash. St. B. News, June 1989, at 25-30

Washington Constitution, General—Pre-1980

Wilfred J. Airey, A History of the Constitution and Government of Washington Territory (1945) (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Washington, Seattle)

Arthur S. Beardsley, Sources of the Washington Constitution, in State of Washington, 2011-2012 Legislative Manual at 385-422. Beardsley first prepared this study comparing provisions of the Washington State constitution with parallels in the federal constitution, other state constitutions, and the Hill and 1878 draft constitutions in 1939. It is reprinted every two years in the Legislative Manual. The link above is to the Legislative Manual on the legislature's website. For a smaller file, with just Beardsley's work, click here.

Herman J. Deutsch, A Prospectus for the Study of the Governments of the Pacific Northwest States in Their Regional Setting, 42 Pac. Nw. Q. 277 (1951), JSTOR (UW restricted)

Drafting Washington's State Constitution, 48 Pac. Nw. Q. 22-24 (1957), JSTOR (UW restricted). Reprints two undated letters concerning the activities of the constitutional convention. The letters, signed "Flynn," originally appeared in the Walla Walla Statesman.

Ben Driftmier, Comparative Study of Constitutions for Provisions Not Found In Our Own, 3 Wash. Hist. Q. 259 (1912)

James L. Fitts, The Washington Constitutional Convention of 1889 (1951) (unpublished Master's thesis, University of Washington, Seattle)

John D. Hicks, The Constitutions of the Northwest States. Constitutional Convention Research Memorandum No. 6, Montana Constitutional Convention Comm'n. (1971-72). Reprinted from University of Nebraska University Studies, vol. XXIII, Nos. 1-2 (Jan.-April, 1923). Also available on HeinOnline.

Claudius O. Johnson, George Turner, a Character from Plutarch, 18 Wash. L. Rev. 167-81 (1943) and 19 Wash. L. Rev. 18-30 (1944)

Leo Jones, Proposed Amendments to the State Constitution of Washington, 4 Wash. Hist. Q. 12 (1913)

John R. Kinnear, Notes on the Constitutional Convention, 4 Wash. Hist. Q. 276 (1913). Kinnear, a lawyer from Seattle, was a delegate to the convention. See biographical sketch.

John R. Kinnear photo


John R. Kinnear
(from Constitutional convention composite photo)


Lebbeus J. Knapp, The Origin of the Constitution of the State of Washington, 4 Wash. Hist. Q. 227 (1913). Also available here.

J. Orin Oliphant, Additional Notes on the Constitution of 1878, 17 Wash. Hist. Q. 27 (1926)

Charles H. Sheldon, Judicial Review and the Supreme Court of Washington, 1890-1986, Publius, J. Federalism, wWtr. 1987, at 69. JSTOR (UW restricted)


Theodore L. Stiles, The Constitution of the State and Its Effects upon Public Interests, 4 Wash. Hist. Q. 281 (1913). Alternate link. Stiles, a lawyer from Tacoma, was a delegate to the convention.  He was one of the first five judges on the Supreme Court. See See biographical sketch from the Journal; biography by Charles Sheldon here. Theodore L. Stiles photo

Theodore L. Stiles
(from Constitutional convention composite photo)

Francis Newton Thorpe, Recent Constitution-Making in the United States: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, 2 Annals Am. Acad. of Pol. & Soc. Sci. 145-201 (1891), HeinOnline

Artile I, Declaration of Rights

Mark H. Adams and George R. Nock, Search, Seizure, and Section 7: Standing from Salvucci to Simpson, 6 Seattle U. L. Rev. 1 (1982)

Kathleen A. Baldi, Comment, The Denial of a State Constitutional Right to Bail in Juvenile Proceedings: The Need for Reassessment in Washington State, 19 Seattle U. L. Rev. 573 (1996)

Bruce L. Brown, The Juvenile Death Penalty in Washington: A State Constitutional Analysis, 15 Seattle U. L. Rev . 361 (1992)

Daniel J. Clark, Dropping Anchor: Defining a Search in Compliance With Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution, 21 Seattle U. L. Rev . 1 (1997)

Frank J. Conklin & James M. Vaché, The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the Washington Constitution—A Proposal to the Supreme Court, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 411 (1985)

Ken Davis, Comment, Washington Constitution Article 1, Section 7: The Argument for Broader Protection against Employer Drug Testing, 16 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 1335 (1993)

James M. Dolliver, The Washington Constitution and State Action: The View of the Framers, 22 Willamette L. Rev. 445 (1986), HeinOnline (UW restricted)

James M. Dolliver, Condemnation, Credit and Corporations in Washington: 100 Years of Judicial Decisions Have the Framers' Views Been Followed?, 12 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 163 (1989) (examines Article I, § 16, the taking clause; Article VIII, § 7, the municipal credit clause; Article XII, §§ 1-22, the Corporations Article)

Cheryl L. Harner, Comment, The Repeal of Washington’s Infant Tolling Statute in Medical Malpractice Cases: State Constitutional Challenges, 22 Gonz. L. Rev. 133 (1986-87).

Katie Hosford, The Search for a Distinct Religious-Liberty Jurisprudence under the Washington State Constitution75 Wash. L. Rev. 643 (2000)

Charles W. Johnson & Scott P. Beetham, The Origin of Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution, 31 Seattle U. L. Rev. 431 (2008)

James E. Lobsenz, A Constitutional Right  to an  Appeal:  Guarding Against  Unacceptable Risks of Erroneous Conviction, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 375 (1985)

George R. Nock, Seizing Opportunity, Searching for Theory: Article I, Section 7, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 331 (1985)

Symposium: The Role of a Bill of Rights in a Modern State Constitution, 45 Wash. L. Rev. 453 (1970)


Gregory C. Sisk, The Constitutional Validity of the Modification of Joint and Several Liability in the Washington Tort Reform Act of 1986, 13 Seattle U. L. Rev. 433 (1990).

David M. Skover, The Washington Constitutional "State Action" Doctrine: A Fundamental Right to State Action, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 221 (1985)

Justice Debra Stephens, The Once and Future Promise of Access to Justice in Washington's Article I, Section 10, 91 Wash. L. Rev. Online 41-56 (2016)

Jonathan Thompson, The Washington Constitution's Prohibition on Special Privileges and Immunities: Real Bite for "Equal Protection Review of Regulatory Legislation?, 69 Temp. L. Rev. 1247 (1996) (posted with permission of the author and HeinOnline)

Robert F. Utter, Freedom and Diversity in a Federal System: Perspectives on State Constitutions and the Washington Declaration of Rights, 7 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 491 (1984) (reprinted in Developments in State Constitutional Law 239 (Bradley D. McGraw ed., 1985))

Robert F. Utter & Edward J. Larson, Church and State on the Frontier: The History of the Establishment Clauses in the Washington State Constitution, 15 Hastings Const. L.Q. 451 (1988) (posted with permission of the authors and HeinOnline)

Robert F. Utter, The Right to Speak, Write and Publish Freely: State Constitutional Protection against Private Abridgement, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 157 (1985)

Charles K. Wiggins, Francis Henry and the Declaration of Rights, Wash. St. B. News, May 1989, at 51-54

Charles K. Wiggins, Bryan P. Harnitiaux & Robert H. Whaley, Washington’s 1986 Tort Legislation and the State Constitution: Testing the Limits, 22 Gonz. L. Rev. 193 (1986-87)

Article II, Legislative Department

Gordon E. Baker, Legislative Power to Amend Initiatives in Washington State, 55 Pac. Nw. Q. 28 (1964), JSTOR (UW restricted)

Jeffrey T. Even, Direct Democracy in Washington: A Discourse on the Peoples' Powers of Initiative and Referendum, 32 Gonz. L. Rev. 247 (1996/1997), HeinOnline (UW restricted)

Kristen L. Fraser, Method, Procedure, Means, and Manner: Washington's Law of Law-Making, 39 Gonz. L. Rev. 447 (2004)

Kristen, L. Fraser, "Grasping for the 'Elephant in the Courthouse': Developments in Washington's Law of Law-Making, 44 Gonz. L. Rev. 411 (2008-09)

Claudius O. Johnson, The Adoption of the Initiative and Referendum in Washington, 35 Pac. Nw. Q.291 (1944), JSTOR (UW restricted)

Claudius O. Johnson, The Initiative and Referendum in Washington, 36 Pac. Nw. Q. 29 (1945), JSTOR (UW restricted)

Bryan L. Page, State of Emergency: Washington’s Use of Emergency Clauses and the People’s Right to Referendum, 44 Gonz. L. Rev. 219 (2009)

Article III, The Executive

Heidi A. Irvin, Note, Washington's Partial Veto Power: Judicial Construction of Article III, Section 12, 10 Seattle U. L. Rev. 699 (1987)

Article IV, The Judiciary

Mark DeForrest, In the Groove or in a Rut? Resolving Conflicts Between the Divisions of the Washington State Court of Appeals at the Trial Court Level, 48 Gonz. L. Rev. 431 (2013)

Charles K. Wiggins, George Turner and the Judiciary Article, Part I, Wash. St. B. News, Sept. 1989, at 46-50, and Part II, Wash. St. B. News, Oct. 1989, at 17-23

Article VI, Elections & Elective Rights

Rebecca Mead, Votes for Women!, Columbia: Mag. Nw. Hist., Wtr. 2010-11, at 5.

Charles K. Wiggins, John P. Hoyt and Women's Suffrage, Wash. St. B. News, Jan. 1989, at 17-20

Article VII, Revenue & Taxation

Hugh D. Spitzer, A Washington State Income Tax--Again?, 16 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 515 (1993)

Hugh D. Spitzer, Taxes vs. Fees: A Curious Confusion, 38 Gonz. L. Rev. 335 (2003), SSRN

Article VIII, State, County & Municipal Indebtedness

James M. Dolliver, Condemnation, Credit and Corporations in Washington: 100 Years of Judicial Decisions Have the Framers' Views Been Followed?, 12 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 163 (1989) (examines Article I, § 16, the taking clause; Article VIII, § 7, the municipal credit clause; Article XII, §§ 1-22, the Corporations Article)

David D. Martin, Comment, Washington State Constitutional Limitations on Gifting of Funds to Private Enterprise: A Need for Reform, 20 Seattle U. L. Rev . 199 (1996)

Hugh Spitzer, An Analytical View of Recent "Lending of Credit" Decisions in Washington State, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 195 (1985)

Article IX, Education

Laurie K. Beale, Charter Schools, Common Schools and the Washington Constitution, 72 Wash. L. Rev. 535 (1997)

Jessica R. Burns, Comment, Public School Funding and McCleary v. State of Washington—A Violation of the Separation of Powers Doctrine or a Legitimate Exercise of Judicial Autonomy?, 38 Seattle U. L. Rev. 1437 (2015)

Kristen L. Fraser, McCleary: Positive Rights, Separation of Powers, and Taxpayer Protections in Washington's State Constitution, 91 Wash. L. Rev. Online 91-140 (2016)

Laura Habein, Note, League of Women Voters v. State: The Rejection of Public and Private Hybridity within Washington State Public Schools31 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 201 (2017),  HeinOnline

Recent Case, Education Law - Washington Supreme Court Hold Legislature in Contempt for Failing the Make Adequate Progress toward Remedying Unconstitutional Education Funding Scheme - McCleary v. State, No. 84362-7 (Wash. Sept. 11, 2014), 128 Harv. L. Rev. 2048 (2015)

Recent Case, Education—Charter Schools—Washington Supreme Court Holds Charter School Act Violates State Constitution—League of Women Voters of Washington v. State, 129 Harv. L. Rev. 1811 (2016), HeinOnline

Adam Sherman & Hugh Spitzer, Essay, Washington State's Mandate: The Constitutional Obligation to Fund Post-Secondary Education, 89 Wash. L. Rev. Online 15 (2014)

Daniel C. Stallings, Comment, Washington State's Duty to Fund K-12 Schools: Where the Legislature Went Wrong and What It Should Do to Meet Its Constitutional Obligation, 85 Wash. L. Rev. 575 (2010)


See Selected Cases, below, for links to McCleary v. State and related documents.

Article XI, County, City & Township Organization

Kent D. Richards, The Police Power and Washington Statehood: Insurrection, Agitation, and Riots, Mont.: Mag. W. Hist., Autumn 1987, at 10, JSTOR (UW restricted)

Article XII, Corporations Other Than Municipal

James M. Dolliver, Condemnation, Credit and Corporations in Washington: 100 Years of Judicial Decisions – Have the Framers' Views Been Followed?, 12 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 163 (1989) (examines Article I, § 16, the taking clause; Article VIII, § 7, the municipal credit clause; Article XII, §§ 1-22, the Corporations Article)

Article XIV, Seat of Government

Charles K. Wiggins, Austin Mires and the Capital Controversy, Wash. St. B. News, April 1989, at 24-27

Article XVII, Tide Lands

Charles K. Wiggins, The Battle for the Tidelands in the Constitutional Convention, Part I, Wash. St. B. News, March 1990, at 15-21; Part II, Wash. St. B. News, April 1990, at 15-19; and Part III, Wash. St. B. News, May 1990, at 47-52 (posted with permission of the author, the Washington State Bar Association, and HeinOnline)

Article XXXI, Equal Rights Amendment

Janine A. Parry, Putting Feminism to a Vote: The Washington State Women's Council, 1963-78, 91 Pac. Nw. Q. 171 (2000), JSTOR (UW restricted)

Patricia L. Proebsting, Comment, Washington's Equal Rights Amendment: It Says What It Means and It Means What It Says, 8 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 461 (1985)

Prohibition (Failed Proposal in 1889)

Charles R. LeWarne,The Prohibition Proposition: A Hot Issue at the Constitutional Convention, Colum.: Mag. Nw. Hist, Summer 1989, at 26

Healthy Environment (Proposal)