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.
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.
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 corresponding responsibilities.
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.
The state shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, petition for redress or peaceably protest governmental action.
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.
The public has a right to expect governmental agencies to afford such reasonable opportunity for citizens participation in the operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be provided by law.
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 disclosure.
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.
The people shall be secure in their houses, 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.
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 weapons.
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 to suffrage.
A person 18 years of age or older is an adult for all purposes, [amended: except that the legislature or the people by initiative may establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcoholic beverages.]
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 persons.
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.
[Amended: (2) No person shall be deprived of 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.
(3) This section shall not be construed as a limitation upon the authority of the legislature to enact statutes establishing, limiting, modifying, or abolishing remedies, claims for relief, damages, or allocations of responsibility for damages in any civil proceeding; except that any express dollar limits on compensatory damages for actual economic loss for bodily injury must be approved by a 2/3 vote of each house of the legislature.]
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
The state, counties, cities, towns, and all other local governmental entities shall have no immunity from suit for injury to a person or property [amended: except as may be specifically provided by law by a 2/3 vote of each house of the legislature.]
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall never be suspended.
(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.
All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great.
Excessive bail shall not be required, or excessive fines imposed, or cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
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.
In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to appear 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.
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.
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 unanimous.
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 fraud.
Laws for the punishment for crime shall be founded on the principles of prevention, reformation, [amended: public safety, and restitution for victims.] Full rights are restored by termination of state supervision for any offense against the state.
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.
Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or 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.
No ex post facto law nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, or making any irrevocable grant or special privileges, franchises, or immunities, shall be passed by the legislature.
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 prescribed by law.
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 convened.
The enumeration in this constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny, impair, or disparage others retained by the people.
The people declare that Montana servicemen, servicewomen, and veterans may be given special considerations determined by the legislature.