of The United States of
The Constitution consists of a preamble, 7 articles , and 27 amendments. The first part of the constitution is the Preamble. The Preamble explains the purpose for writing the Constitution and the main ideas to be carried out by the government and the people in order to make a more perfect union. Each purpose of the preamble had a special meaning to statesmen in seventeen eighty nine. The purpose was one, to form a more perfect union of people living together. Two, to establish justice for creditors by given them the right to take away the possessions of people who don’t compensate them. Three, to ensure domestic tranquillity, or prevent events such as Shays Rebellion. Four, to provide common defense or to protect the nation from adversaries such Indians and the pirates. Five, to promote general welfare, which relates to the depression the country was in economically (by the way our nations economy is called Capitalism). And lastly six , to secure the blessing of liberty by enforcing the idea of freedom in every way possible.
The Seven Articles
Article One describes The Legislative Department. Section one states that the congress is based on a two house, or a bicameral system. This type of congress has two legislatures – The House of Representatives and The Senate.
Sec.1 – The House of Representatives. The main idea is that all house members are elected for a two year term in their office. It also states the qualifications of a representative, or what you have to have or be to become a representative. A person must be twenty-five years of age and have lived in the united states for seven years, therefore making the person a citizen of our country. The person also must, if running for a position in government in a certain state, be an inhabitant of the state the person is running in. For instance if you were an inhabitant living in California you wouldn’t be able to run for governor of Oregon because you wouldn’t have the same perception of issues or most likely anything than an Oregonian. Plus Californians aren’t that welcome here anyway.
Sec.2 – The House Membership is based on state population. The number of representatives is now 435 and goes up with the increase in population. So, if Florida gains another 50,000 Cubans, they will assign another 3 or 4 representatives to stand for them. The speaker is the most powerful person in this government body. He is either a Democrat or a Republican, depending on which holds the majority of seats in the house. To explain say that 70 percent of the House was Democratic, since it is the majority, the speaker will be a Democrat. The House also has the soul power of impeachment, or to put the president on trial and try to threaten or get rid of him.
Sec.3 – The Senate. This section lists the number of Senators, elections, and terms in office. There are two Senators from each state and each one is entitled to a six year term. Each Senator has one vote. One third of the Senate is chosen every two years.
In order to become a Senator, you must meet the following qualifications. You must be at least 30 years of age and have been a citizen of the united states for two years.
The Vice-president presides over the Senate and can only vote in the event that the senate’s votes tie.
The Senate acts as the jury for an impeachment, but it takes more than two thirds vote to remove the President. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial.
Sec. 4 – Election and Meeting of the Congress. Congress must meet once each year. This was to prevent congress from not meeting as happened in England for 175 years.
Sec.5 – Organization and Rules of each House. A two thirds majority members vote is required in a house to expel a member. Once a session of congress has begun the meeting site may not be changed, to prevent lack of one-sided votes due to the opposition’s confusion of the area and not being able to find the meeting place.
Sec. 6 – Congressional Privileges and Restraints. During session, a congressman is immune or free from arrest except for charges of treason, felonies, and breach of the peace.
Sec. 7 – How Bills become Laws. Both houses must approve the bill before it is passed. Then it presented to the President who may accept it or veto it within ten days of getting the bill if he does not like it. If accepted by the President or the President does not respond within ten days, the bill becomes law. If the President does not respond within ten days but the Congress ends session before the ten days, then the bill dies. This is called a pocket veto. If the bill is returned (vetoed) by the President while the congress is in session and within ten days, it goes back to the house and Senate. The President’s veto may be overcome and the bill will become a law if the bill is now passed by a two-thirds vote in each and both houses of the Congress.
Sec. 8 – Powers granted to Congress. These are some of the delegated or numerated powers of Congress: taxation, regulate trade, coinage, declare war, create and support the militaries.
Sec.9 – Powers denied to the Federal Government. It may not suspend Habeus Corpus ( a person may not be jailed without being informed of the charge). It cannot enact an ex post facto bill.
Sec. 10 – Powers denied to the States. States cannot make treaties, coin money, change import or export duties, or age war unless invaded.
Article Two deals with The Executive Branch which is the President and the Vice President of the United States.
Sec. 1. – Terms of Office. Each has four years in office and may be reelected to the position once. Each state will vote for electors who then will vote for their presidential candidate The candidate who wins the most votes in a state gets all the electors votes from that state. The candidate who receives the most electoral votes (not total people votes) becomes President. The President must be 35 years old, a natural born citizen, and a resident in the U.S. for fourteen years. The Vice President takes over if the President dies or does not complete his term.
Sec. 2. – Powers of the President. The President is the head of the armed forces. He has executive powers as head of the executive administrative branch and can make treaties, and grant reprieves and pardons. He can make appointments to ambassadors, judges, and other public ministers but the appointments must get the Senate’s consent.
Sec. 3 – Presidential Duties. The President must carry out the laws passed by Congress most of which he delegates to agencies. He must report the State of the Union each year to the Congress and has the ability to influence congress.
Article Three deals with The Judicial Branch: the federal judges and courts. The Judiciary Act of 1789 set up a system of federal, district, and circuit courts, or courts of appeal. The Judiciary review can send a law back to Congress if they decide the law is unconstitutional. The appeals courts also decide if a lower court acted properly in trying a case based on interpretation of the law.
Article Four deals with Interstate Relations.
Sec. 1 – Recognition of Powers. In maintaining reciprocal recognition of states for one another, one state must recognize the records and official acts of another state. Court judgments and legal actions in one state are valid throughout the United States, but one state does not have police powers in another state.
Sec. 2- Mutual Duties of the States. All states must treat the citizens of another state the same way they treat their own citizens. On demand of a state’s governor, a person should be returned to the state he fled and was suspected of committing a crime.
Sec. 3 – New States and Territories. No new state may be formed from a previous state or from combining the land of two separate states without the consent of Congress and the involved states.
Sec. 4 – Federal Protection for States. The federal government guarantees a republican form of government for each state, protection for each state against invasion or domestic violence.
Article Five deals with The Amending Process. It states that the constitution may be changed with two thirds vote by Congress and ratified by three fourths of the states voting for it .
Article Six deals with Federal Credit and Federal Supremacy. Supremacy means that any state legislation which is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution or federal laws is null and void. Also, religious tests may not be used for a person to qualify for an office or voting.
Article Seven deals with The Ratification of the Constitution. Nine of the original thirteen states had to vote in favor of the Constitution for it to become ratified.
The Amendments to the Constitution
The Bill of Rights, The first ten amendments
1. Freedom of Opinion, 1791. This most famous amendment, single most famous part of the Constitution, guarantees the five basic freedoms: the freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and petition.
2. The Right to Bear Arms, 1791. People have the right to keep and bare arms, and states can have their own militia.
3. Quartering of Troops. No soldier may be quartered in any house without the consent of the house’s owner (This was the result from the British Quartering Acts).
4. Searches and Seizures, 1791. A person, or place, house, papers, or effects of a person may not be searched or taken without a warrant. A warrant must be a written court order from a judge only after the property to be entered or taken is named and the judge is satisfied that the property will produce evidence of a crime.
5. Rights of the Accused Person, 1791. A person can not be compelled to be a witness for or against oneself. A person cannot be tried twice for the same offense. The person cannot be deprived of life, property, or liberty without due process of law. No private property can be taken from a person without just compensation.
6. Rights of the Accused Person to a Speedy Trial, 1791. A person has the right to a speedy trial with no delay, and must be tried in the district where the crime was committed. The person must be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. The person has the right to obtain witnesses and must be confronted by the accusing witnesses. Since 1942, the person has the right to a lawyer, and if the person cannot afford one, the federal government will provide a lawyer.
7. Suits at Common Law, 1791. A jury trial is guaranteed if the sum of money involved is above twenty dollars.
8. Bails and Punishments, 1791. Fixed rate for bails and punishments for crimes. No bail shall be excessive, nor any fine or punishment be cruel and unusual.
9. Rights not Enumerated. People retain all rights not stated. Prevents over extension of government powers.
10. Powers not Delegated, 1791. Any powers not stated in the Constitution are reserved for the states.
The remaining 16 amendments:
11. Suits against States, 1798. Individuals cannot sue states in federal courts ( can only sue in state court).
12. Presidential Election, 1804. The President and Vice President are voted upon on separate ballots. Electors will meet in their respective states and vote for the President and the Vice President. The votes are sent to the Senate and the President of the Senate counts the votes in a joint session of Congress. In case of a tie, or no majority, the House of Representatives decides who the President will be.
Note: Amendment 13, 14, and 15 are called the “National Supremacy Amendments” because they gave the federal government more supremacy over the states and limited the states action of powers they formerly had.
13. Abolition of Slavery, 1865. Abolished slavery, freed the slaves.
14. Limitations on State Actions, 1868. Negroes were made citizens without state discrimination. States would be denied representation if they denied anyone the right to vote. Did not allow Confederates to hold office or join the military. Forbids the payment of Confederate debt. The Congress can pass laws to carry out this amendment.
15. Negro Suffrage, 1870. Blacks were made voters as well as citizens. All citizens have the right to vote.
16. Income Tax, 1913. Congress can tax without apportionment.
17. Direct Election of Senators, 1913. Senators are elected by direct vote by the people. The Governor appoints any vacancies that happen during a term.
18. Prohibition, 1919. Prohibited the manufacturing, selling, or transporting of alcoholic beverages in the United States.
19. Woman Suffrage, 1920. Gave women the right to vote.
20. Abolition of “lame duck” sessions, 1933. Abolished lame duck sessions of Congress by ending a Congressman or Senator who was defeated not to return to the next session of Congress. Elections are held in November, and the congress ends its sessions in December. Today, the new session of Congress begins on January 3rd. It shortened the time between a President’s election and inauguration with the President term beginning January 20th.
21. Repeal of Prohibition, 1933. Repealed the 18th amendment. It was taken off the books. Alcohol could now be made, sold and transported in the U.S.
22. Limitation of Presidential Terms, 1951. No person may be elected to be President more than twice and the person may not hold the office of President more than ten years.
23. Voting in the District of Columbia, 1961. As of 1964, The district of Columbia was given three electoral votes.
24. Prohibiting States to use Poll Tax, 1964. A citizen does not have to pay a tax or anything to vote.
25. Presidential Succession, 1965. Provided method for removing the President for reasons other than death. States the Vice President will become President, if the President dies or resigns. If the Vice Presidency becomes vacant, the President may nominate a new vice President subject to approval by majority votes from both houses of Congress. If the President can perform the duties of the Presidency the Vice President will assume the duties of the President as acting President. If and when the president is able, he will resume his powers as President. If there is disagreement about the President ability to govern, the Congress will make the final decision.
26. 18 year old Vote, 1971. All U.S. citizens, 18 years old and older have the right to vote.
27. Congressional Pay Increase, 1992. If Congress votes a pay raise for themselves, they can’t make it effective until after the next congressional election.