Nebraska State Constitution Article I-1

Article I-1


Statement of rights.

All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof. To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


  • Neb. Const. art. I, sec. 1 (1875);
  • Amended 1988, Initiative Measure No. 403.


1. Personal rights

2. Property rights

3. Taxation

4. Right to bear arms

5. Miscellaneous

1. Personal rights

Section 29-2203 does not violate either the U.S. or Nebraska Constitution. State v. Ryan, 233 Neb. 74, 444 N.W.2d 610 (1989).

Statute providing it shall be unlawful just to be in place where controlled substance is being used illegally is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. State v. Adkins, 196 Neb. 76, 241 N.W.2d 655 (1976).

Requirement of continuous residency of four months independent of school attendance to establish residence for tuition purposes does not violate this section. Thompson v. Board of Regents of University of Nebraska, 187 Neb. 252, 188 N.W.2d 840 (1971).

Failure to appoint counsel to represent a defendant in a criminal case upon appeal did not violate this section. State v. Dabney, 181 Neb. 263, 147 N.W.2d 768 (1967).

Sexual psychopath law does not deny equal protection of the laws. State v. Madary, 178 Neb. 383, 133 N.W.2d 583 (1965).

Statute prohibiting state and federal officers and employees from being delegates to county, district, and state political conventions did not violate this section. State ex rel. Baldwin v. Strain, 152 Neb. 763, 42 N.W.2d 796 (1950).

Habitual criminal law, defining habitual criminal and providing punishment therefor, is not violative of this section. Rains v. State, 142 Neb. 284, 5 N.W.2d 887 (1942).

The provision of an agreement between a labor organization and an employer that when a female employee, member of the organization, marries, her employment shall terminate, does not violate constitutional rights of employee. Brisbin v. E. L. Oliver Lodge No. 335, 134 Neb. 517, 279 N.W. 277 (1938).

The right to engage in the sale of intoxicating liquors is not an inherent and inalienable right which the state is forbidden to abridge. Griffin v. Gass, 133 Neb. 56, 274 N.W. 193 (1937).

Statute forbidding possession of liquor elsewhere than in private dwelling is not void as discriminatory. Fitch v. State, 102 Neb. 361, 167 N.W. 417 (1918).

"Sunday Law" is not repugnant to the Constitution. In re Caldwell, 82 Neb. 544, 118 N.W. 133 (1908).

A statute regulating and limiting the hours of employment of females in manufacturing, mechanical and mercantile establishments, hotels and restaurants is not repugnant to the provisions of the Constitution. Wenham v. State, 65 Neb. 394, 91 N.W. 421 (1902), 58 L.R.A. 825 (1902).

2. Property rights

Statute requiring fencing of right-of-way by railroads did not operate to deprive railroad of equal rights. Linenbrink v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 177 Neb. 838, 131 N.W.2d 417 (1964).

Every citizen has the right to acquire property and sell it at such price as he can obtain in fair barter. Elder v. Doerr, 175 Neb. 483, 122 N.W.2d 528 (1963).

A private employment agency is not a business in which the public has such an interest that price fixing may properly be included as a method of regulation. Boomer v. Olsen, 143 Neb. 579, 10 N.W.2d 507 (1943).

Act regulating sale of motor vehicles for purpose of preventing fraud is not a violation of constitutional rights. Nelsen v. Tilley, 137 Neb. 327, 289 N.W. 388 (1939), 126 A.L.R. 729 (1939).

The right to acquire property and dispose of it in such innocent manner as he pleases for such price as he can obtain in fair barter is guaranteed to every person. State ex rel. English v. Ruback, 135 Neb. 335, 281 N.W. 607 (1938).

Property used for "religious purpose" is within the spirit of Constitution exempting it from taxation. Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite v. Board of County Commissioners, 122 Neb. 586, 241 N.W. 93 (1932), 81 A.L.R. 1166 (1932).

City ordinance requiring Sunday closing of places of business for sale or exchange of motor vehicles is valid under police power, and not discriminatory under this article. Stewart Motor Co. v. City of Omaha, 120 Neb. 776, 235 N.W. 332 (1931).

Statute requiring railroad company to fence right-of-way is constitutional. Middaugh v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 114 Neb. 438, 208 N.W. 139 (1926).

Law prohibiting merchants from giving trading stamps is unconstitutional. State ex rel. Hartigan v. Sperry & Hutchinson Co., 94 Neb. 785, 144 N.W. 795 (1913), 49 L.R.A.N.S. 1123 (1913).

3. Taxation

Ordinance of city of Lincoln imposing occupation tax on taxicabs was not objectionable as unjust, discriminatory and denial of equal protection of the laws, though no tax was imposed on trucks carrying freight. Richter v. City of Lincoln, 136 Neb. 289, 285 N.W. 593 (1939).

Gross premium tax on foreign insurance companies is an excise tax on privilege of doing business in Nebraska, and does not violate equal rights clause of Constitution. State ex rel. Smrha v. General American Life Ins. Co., 132 Neb. 520, 272 N.W. 555 (1937).

4. Right to bear arms

The "Right to Bear Arms" amendment to this provision does not abolish the death penalty in Nebraska. Anderson v. Gunter, 235 Neb. 560, 456 N.W.2d 286 (1990).

Section 28-1203(1) is not vitiated by the "Right to Bear Arms" amendment of 1988, is a valid exercise of the State's police power in reasonable regulation of certain firearms, and does not contravene this provision. State v. LaChapelle, 234 Neb. 458, 451 N.W.2d 689 (1990).

The constitutional right to keep and bear arms is subject to reasonable regulation by statute if the statute does not frustrate the guarantee of the constitutional provision. State v. Comeau, 233 Neb. 907, 448 N.W.2d 595 (1989).

5. Miscellaneous

Section 39-6,193, imposing vicarious liability on owners-lessors of trucks for damages by lessees and operators of the leased trucks, is constitutional. Bridgeford v. U-Haul Co., 195 Neb. 308, 238 N.W.2d 443 (1976).

Act establishing vocational technical schools does not violate this section. Campbell v. Area Vocational Technical School No. 2, 183 Neb. 318, 159 N.W.2d 817 (1968).

Statute creating Nebraska Power Review Board did not violate this section. City of Auburn v. Eastern Nebraska Public Power Dist., 179 Neb. 439, 138 N.W.2d 629 (1965).

Zoning ordinance of city of Omaha did not violate this section. Wolf v. City of Omaha, 177 Neb. 545, 129 N.W.2d 501 (1964).

Sunday closing law violated this section and was unconstitutional in its entirety. Terry Carpenter, Inc. v. Wood, 177 Neb. 515, 129 N.W.2d 475 (1964).

Sunday closing ordinance of city of first class violated this section. Skag-Way Department Stores, Inc. v. City of Grand Island, 176 Neb. 169, 125 N.W.2d 529 (1964).

Zoning act and ordinance sustained as constitutional. Schlientz v. City of North Platte, 172 Neb. 477, 110 N.W.2d 58 (1961).

In the interpretation of the Bill of Rights, the court will consider its history, the development of the evil sought to be restrained, the established laws, usages and customs at time of its adoption, and scope of the remedy its terms imply. First Trust Co. of Lincoln v. Smith, 134 Neb. 84, 277 N.W. 762 (1938).

Statute arbitrarily dividing county into commissioner districts, without regard to population, is unconstitutional. State ex rel. Harte v. Moorhead, 99 Neb. 527, 156 N.W. 1067 (1916).

The constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not infringed by statutes prohibiting deceit or fraud. In re Barnes, 83 Neb. 443, 119 N.W. 662 (1909).

Bill of rights is not enumeration of all powers reserved to people. State ex rel. Smyth, Attorney General v. Moores, 55 Neb. 480, 76 N.W. 175 (1898), 41 L.R.A. 624 (1898).

Law of land and due process do not mean merely legislative enactments. The Atchison & Nebraska R.R. Co. v. Baty, 6 Neb. 37, 29 Am. R. 356 (1877).