U.S. Constitution
Bill of Rights

(Analysis and history)
Declaration of Independence

(Preamble to the Constitution) -"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (Go to footnote 1)

Article I
Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time: and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill. (Go to footnote 2)
Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. (Go to footnote 3)
Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay. (Go to footnote 4)

Article II
Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." (Go to footnote 5)
Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. (Go to footnote 6)

Article III
Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. (Go to footnote 7)
Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted. (Go to footnote 8)

Article IV
Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof. (Go to footnote 9)
Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence. (Go to footnote 10)

Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate. (Go to footnote 11)

Article VI
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwith-standing.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Go to footnote 12)

Article VII
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth
In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,
George Washington--President and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire: John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts: Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
Connecticut: William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman
New York: Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey: William Livingston, David Brearly, William Paterson, Jonathan Dayton
Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Thomas FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris
Delaware: George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom
Maryland: James McHenry, Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll
Virginia: John Blair, James Madison, Jr.
North Carolina: William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson
South Carolina: John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler
Georgia: William Few, Abraham Baldwin (Go to footnote 13)

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BILL OF RIGHTS - (Amendments 1 thru 10)

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. (Go to footnote 14)
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Amendment XI
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State. (Go to footnote 15)

Amendment XII
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.--The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States. (Go to footnote 16)

Amendment XIII
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Amendment XV
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (Go to footnote 17)

Amendment XVI
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census of enumeration.

Amendment XVII
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Amendment XVIII
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XX
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
Section 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Section 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
Section 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

Amendment XXI
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Amendment XXII
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Amendment XXIII
Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXIV
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXV
Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Amendment XXVI
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of age.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (Go to footnote 18)

Amendment XXVII
No law, varying the compensation for the service of the senators and representatives shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened. (Go to footnote 19)

Proposed Constitutional Amendments
Equal Rights Amendment

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification (Go to footnote 20)

District of Columbia Amendment
Section 1. For purposes of representation in Congress, election of the President and Vice President, and Article V of this Constitution the District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be treated as though it were a state.
Section 2. The exercise of the rights and powers conferred under this article shall be by the people of the District constituting the seat of government and as shall be provided by Congress.
Section 3. The Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution is hereby repealed.
Section 4. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the constitution by the legislators of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission. (Go to footnote 21)

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The Constitution of the United States comprises the nation's fundamental law, providing the framework for its governance and the principles under which it must operate. Judicial reinterpretation has given the Constitution the flexibility to accommodate changes in the specific laws subject to its authority. As Chief Justice John MARSHALL pointed out early in the 19th century, the Constitution was "intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs. To have prescribed the means by which government should, in all future times, execute its powers, would have been to change entirely, the character of the instrument, and give it the properties of a legal code."
The distinction Marshall made between the Constitution and other law was in keeping with the framers' provision for the supremacy of the Constitution in Article VI, which states: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land . . . ."

The first constitution of the United States was the ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION ratified in 1781. Because this document left too much sovereignty to the states, it was defective as an instrument of government. Some leaders felt that the individual states suffered economically from the lack of a strong central authority; commercial barriers between the states seemed particularly onerous. They also felt that the lack of unity among the states was causing serious problems in international relations and defense. The weakness of the central government was dramatized by such events as SHAYS'S REBELLION (1786-87) in western Massachusetts, and by the ability of one state to block legislation desired by the other twelve. The ANNAPOLIS CONVENTION of 1786 called for a general CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION that met at Philadelphia in May 1787.
Twelve states (all but Rhode Island) named 73 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Of these, 55 came but only 39 signed the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The leaders of the convention were statesmen who in modern parlance would be called middle-of-the-road: George WASHINGTON, Alexander HAMILTON, James MADISON, John JAY, and Benjamin FRANKLIN. Conspicuous by their absence were the firebrands of democracy, Patrick HENRY and Sam ADAMS, and the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas JEFFERSON. In his keynote address at the convention, Edmund RANDOLPH said: "Our chief danger arises from the democratic parts of our {state} constitutions. It is a maxim which I hold incontrovertible, that the powers of government exercised by the people swallow up the other branches." Writing later in The Federalist, Hamilton said: "The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right."
The prevailing political philosophy of the framers of the Constitution would later be articulated as follows by Madison in The Federalist:
It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices {checks and balances} should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence upon the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
What they sought was a balance that Madison called "mixed government" and "free government," a compromise between monarchy and democracy as they knew them.
Despite the consensus among the framers on the objectives of the Constitution, the controversy over the means by which those objectives could be achieved was lively. Controversy developed over the presidency and the way in which the PRESIDENT was to be elected; the relationship of the states to the national government; the relationship of the national government to the people; and the relationship of state to state. The latter conflict was partially resolved through the great compromise that gave small states equal representation with the large states in the SENATE but apportioned representation according to population in the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Other compromises involved the slavery issue; each slave was to be counted as three-fifths of a person in determining representation and in apportioning direct taxes, and the migration or importation of slaves was allowed to continue until 1808. Generally, sectional interests were also protected by compromise. Northern interests were upheld by giving the new government the power to regulate trade and commerce, and the South was protected against export taxes and the immediate prohibition of the slave trade. Southern and Western border interests were reassured that their territorial rights would be protected by the requirement that treaties be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate.
After it was signed, the Constitution was offered for ratification. By its own terms, "the Ratification of the Conventions of nine States" was required. This was achieved on June 21, 1788, and by 1790 all 13 of the original states had ratified it. Ratification was vigorously opposed by the ANTI-FEDERALISTS, who feared that a powerful central government would minimize the role of the people in governance and threaten individual rights and local interests. The effort to counter the arguments of the Anti-Federalists led to intense campaigning, including the writing of The Federalist by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay (see FEDERALIST, THE). The significant and lasting accomplishment of the opponents was to get the BILL OF RIGHTS added to the Constitution.

The framework of government established in the Constitution emphasizes four overriding concepts: popular control without majority rule; the limitation of governmental power; federalism; and a tripartite government.
Popular Control but not Majority Rule
The framers provided for ultimate control of the government by the people through the electoral process. Such control, however, was not to be exercised either easily or immediately, except perhaps over the House of Representatives. Originally, senators were to be chosen by the state legislatures and the president by the electors in the ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Since the state legislatures controlled the selection of senators, and presidential electors and seats in the state legislature were won in popular elections, it was assumed that the popular will would eventually have an effect on the choice of senators and presidents. It could also be argued that the people would have a voice in the choice of federal officials appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate,
but this could be true of federal judges only in the long run, since they were given virtually lifetime tenure.
The framers, with their complex views on government, felt that the popular majority must be represented in the federal legislature. At the same time, they felt that they must not give over all legislative power to a popular majority. Consequently, they approved an arrangement by which one house of the legislature represented majority will and another house served as a check on the first.
Power Limited and Circumscribed
Despite the framers' anxiety over governmental power, their experience with the Articles of Confederation taught them that the national government must have the power needed to achieve the purposes for which it was to be established. In The Federalist, Hamilton described these purposes:
The principal purposes to be answered by union are these--the common defence of the members; the preservation of the public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States; the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries.
The first objective, then, was to spell out and grant the power necessary for what Hamilton called "energetic" government, while at the same time making explicit the limits of that power and creating safeguards to ensure that the new government did not exceed those limits.
The framers granted 18 specific powers to Congress, but in Article I, Section 9, listed a rather large number of things that Congress was not allowed to do. Evidently the framers wanted to make it clear that certain powers were emphatically denied to Congress.
The specific powers of the president were enumerated in Article II, Sections 2 and 3. Several presidents have interpreted the clause in Article II, Section 1, "the executive Power shall be rested in a President," to mean that they had much broader substantive powers, and the courts have sometimes supported these claims. The phrase executive power, however, had a more exact and limited meaning for the framers, as Hamilton explained in The Federalist:
The essence of the legislative authority is to enact laws, or, in other words, to prescribe rules for the regulation of society; while the execution of the laws, and the employment of the common strength, either for this purpose or for the common defence, seem to comprise all the functions of the executive magistrate.
Presidential power was limited in other ways. The 4-year term, thought of primarily as a term long enough to ensure presidential independence, was also viewed as a limiting device. In addition, the president was made liable to IMPEACHMENT proceedings. Although it was subsequently argued that the constitutional provisions for the grounds for impeachment should be narrowly interpreted, Madison, during the convention debates, made it clear that he agreed with the broad view taken by Hamilton in The Federalist: "The subjects of its {the court for trial of impeachment, the Senate} jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."
The framers believed they had granted ample but fairly well-defined, limited power to the judiciary. They wrote in Article III, "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." Judicial power as such was understood by the framers to mean the power to decide cases and controversies. Nothing was said about judicial review of acts of Congress. The limited debate on this issue suggests that the framers did not regard it as a momentous one. It is doubtful that any of them foresaw how important judicial review could and would become.
The framers were aware that the aggregate of powers granted to all the branches of the national government was enormous, and they agreed with Madison that it was not "sufficient to mark with precision, the boundaries of these departments {branches of government}, in the constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power." The Constitution incorporated ways of circumscribing the power that it granted. What the framers dreaded most, and were most concerned to guard against, was the concentration of power in one person's hands. Thus they provided for a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances. They felt that these principles involved different ideas and that, although they were to some extent complementary, they were also, to some extent, contradictory. Separation was intended to diffuse power, to divide it up systematically so that legislative, executive, and judicial powers would be in separate hands and would be exercised separately. The system of checks and balances required some fusion of powers, however. For example, although the president's power to veto acts of Congress is a check on the power of Congress, it is essentially a legislative power; granting it to the president seems to violate the separation principle.
In short, the framers did not rely on parchment alone to limit the power granted the new government. They further circumscribed it by diffusing it among branches designed to be independent and capable of retaining their independence, and by granting some specific powers as a check by one branch on the power of another. The framers also emphasized that the power of the states would serve as a check on the power of the new national government.

Federalism as a Basis
Despite their common heritage, background, and homogeneity, the original states were 13 different and distinct political entities, each commanding considerable loyalty from its citizenry. However much the framers wanted a strong central government, they knew that they could establish one only by allowing the states to retain power or by making it appear that they did. They realized, or at least Hamilton did, that, as a practical matter, there could not be a double sovereignty; the framers persuaded the public to accept the Constitution by claiming that sovereignty was indeed divisible. Under the federal system they devised, the national government was given the authority to exercise only the enumerated powers granted it, but it had supreme authority in those areas. State sovereignty was therefore largely a fiction; it was destined to have a stormy future, involving a bloody civil war.
Three Coordinate Branches of Government
Throughout U.S. history, the power relationship among the three branches of the federal government has been difficult to define. Woodrow WILSON complained in 1884: "I am disposed to think, however, that the decline in the character of the President is not the cause, but only the accompanying manifestation, of the declining prestige of the presidential office. That high office has fallen from its first estate of dignity because its power has waned; and its power has waned because the power of Congress has become predominant." Although Wilson later changed his mind, at the time he wrote these words he felt that congressional predominance was inherent in the system. At other times the SUPREME COURT has appeared to be the most powerful branch of the government; even as powerful a president as Franklin D. Roosevelt felt that the Court had wrested inordinate power from the other two branches. And later, especially during the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, many people feared that governmental power had become concentrated in an "imperial presidency."
The framers felt that the legislative branch might tend to predominate. Thus they wanted a strong executive, for they believed, as Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, that "energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government." They hoped to establish a government in which the three branches would be coordinate in power, but they felt that in fact the judiciary, though not subordinate, did not actually share in the exercise of real power.

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Footnote 1 - These stated objectives make clear the framers' commitment to the proposition that government should serve to enhance the value and dignity of the individual, as opposed to the proposition to which authoritarian governments have traditionally adhered, that the individual's highest duty is to serve the state.

Footnote 2 -
Sections 1 to 7 of Article I define the composition of the Congress, the qualifications of its members, and the manner in which it will conduct its business.
No absolute limit was placed on the number of members of the House, but in 1913 Congress limited the membership to 435. The clause requiring that senators be chosen by their respective state legislatures was superseded by the 17th Amendment (1913), which requires the popular election of senators.
The Senate is entrusted with the power of trying all impeachments; specific directions are given as to how the trial shall be conducted and as to the impact of its judgment. The House alone has the power to impeach, however.
Significantly, there have been few impeachments, giving some credence to Thomas Jefferson's view that "experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow. It is a cumbersome, archaic process. . . ." The later experience of President Nixon, however, showed the threat of impeachment to be more than a scarecrow.
Although each house is to be the judge of the elections and qualifications of its members, the Supreme Court has held, in a case involving the seating of Adam Clayton POWELL in 1969, that "the Constitution leaves the House without authority to exclude any person, duly elected by his constituents, who meets all the requirements for membership expressly prescribed" in the Constitution.
The privileges and immunities of members of Congress detailed in Section 6 have come under close judicial scrutiny in recent years. The Supreme Court has supported a broad view of congressional immunity, particularly with respect to the speech or debate clause:
The speech, or debate, clause was designed to assure a coequal branch of the government wide freedom of speech, debate and deliberation without intimidation or threats from the executive branch. It thus protects members against prosecutions that directly impinge upon or threaten the legislative process.
The provision of Section 7, paragraph 3, that every resolution be presented to the president before it takes effect, has permitted the growth of a special use of the "concurrent resolution." It is now commonly accepted that the constitutional provision requires the president's approval only to give a resolution the force of law. Consequently, the concurrent resolution has been employed as a means of controlling or recovering power delegated by Congress to the president. For example, Congress has delegated power to the president to reorganize executive agencies on the condition that his orders may be vetoed within a prescribed time by a concurrent resolution.


Footnote 3 -
The framers of the Constitution undoubtedly believed that the legislative power of Congress was originally limited to the 17 specific areas listed in Article I, Section 8, plus whatever was necessary and proper for carrying them out. As John Marshall wrote for the Supreme Court in 1819,
This government is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers. The principle, that it can exercise only the power granted to it, would seem too apparent to have required to be enforced by all those arguments, which its enlightened friends, while it was depending before the people, found it necessary to urge. That principle is now universally admitted.
Marshall, however, added two important corollaries to constitutional doctrine, both of which have markedly influenced constitutional interpretation. The first corollary is that "the government of the Union, though limited to its powers, is supreme within its sphere of action." In other words, where Congress has the power to act, its actions take precedence over state actions. The second corollary is that the "necessary and proper" clause in paragraph 18 should be broadly construed to provide Congress "some choice of means of legislation, not strained and compressed within the narrow limits for which gentlemen contend." In practice, these corollaries have given Congress clear advantages in the continuing struggle for power between the national and state governments.
Experience has shown that the enumerated powers of Section 8 do not include all matters in which congressional action might be needed. Congress has been granted other specific powers in several amendments. For example, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments assure citizens of several basic rights, and all three provide that "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
For the most part, however, the power of the national government has been expanded not by breaching the doctrine of enumerated powers as it pertains to Congress, but rather by broad interpretation of those specific powers, notably the power to regulate commerce, and by a liberal interpretation of the "necessary and proper" clause.
A common misconception about the U.S. political system is that Congress has the constitutional power to legislate virtually anything it deems to be for the general welfare. It is true that the Constitution gives Congress "the power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States," but this is different from giving Congress the power to legislate freely for the general welfare. Indeed, if Congress did have such a power, there would be no need to grant other enumerated powers. Congress's power to provide for the general welfare is limited to taxing and spending. Whereas these powers are considerable, clearly a great difference exists between the power to compel and the power to entice by the offer of money. Congress may try to entice the states to do something in, for example, the field of education by means of subsidies or grants, but it cannot compel them to accept the enticements.
One of the great controversies about the exercise of congressional power has been over the extent to which Congress may delegate its powers to the president and others. In the days of the NEW DEAL, in the 1930s, the Supreme Court put some checks on Congress's growing proclivity to delegate power. It held that Congress could only delegate power if it circumscribed the delegation "within prescribed limits and the determination of facts to which the policy as declared by the legislature is to apply." The question is no longer hotly discussed on the national level, partly because Congress is now careful to set standards when it delegates power, and partly because the Court has grown more permissive. On the state and municipal levels, however, delegation remains a lively issue, probably because judges feel uneasy about delegating power to government officials of less than national stature.
The question of Congress's power to investigate has also aroused considerable controversy. The Supreme Court has held that this power is inherent in Congress's power to legislate and to oversee the executive branch. From time to time the Court has limited the power, when it determined that the congressional investigation served no legitimate legislative purpose, or encroached on 1st Amendment rights of witnesses, or was tantamount to punishment without judicial trial.


Footnote 4 -
Besides enumerating the powers granted to Congress, the framers wanted to make clear what Congress was expressly forbidden to do. The prohibitions they selected reflect the high value they placed on civil liberty and private property. It is no exaggeration to say that the writ of HABEAS CORPUS is the most important single safeguard of personal liberty known to Anglo-American law; here, the Constitution explicitly permits its suspension only in "Cases of Rebellion or Invasion {when} the public Safety may require it."
Although the ex post facto law prohibition was later interpreted to apply only to criminal law, it was once seen as a means of protecting property holders from arbitrary government seizure of their property. Similarly, the prohibition against bills of attainder and the requirement that capitation and direct taxes be apportioned were seen as protections of property rights.
Limiting Congress to enumerated powers entailed the corollary that "the powers not delegated to the United States . . . are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," in the words of the 10th Amendment. Consequently, if in the interest of maintaining a viable federal system it was necessary to forbid the states to exercise certain powers, these had to be spelled out; Section 10 does so.
It is noteworthy that the prohibition against bills of attainder and ex post facto laws is extended to the states. The prohibition of laws "impairing the Obligation of Contracts" is even more significant. By extending the meaning of the word contract to include public grants of land, exemptions from taxation, and charters of corporations, the Supreme Court once provided property owners with a barrier against the power of states to protect public health, safety, and morals. Later, the Court decided that a state had no right to bargain away this power. Consequently, the contract clause may no longer be used to protect vested interests.


Footnote 5 -
A perennial difficulty in the constitutional interpretation of presidential power is the meaning of the first sentence of Article II: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." What is executive power? Presidents have held differing views of the powers inherent in their office. William Howard Taft took the view that the president had only the powers expressly given him in the other sections of Article II. In contrast, Theodore Roosevelt held that by virtue of the opening sentence of Article II the president, as steward of all the people, could do anything on behalf of the people that was not expressly denied him in the Constitution. On several momentous occasions Franklin D. Roosevelt asserted the power to do things expressly forbidden by the Constitution. For example, before the United States entered World War II, he traded some old destroyers to Britain in exchange for military bases, although Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to dispose of property belonging to the United States. Abraham Lincoln also suggested that a president must occasionally suspend part of the Constitution to preserve the whole.
Section 1 of Article II describes the electoral college system for electing the president. Paragraph 3 was superseded by the 12th Amendment. Paragraph 6 suggests that a president who is unable to discharge his powers and duties may be removed from office. The inadequacies of this provision became a matter of concern in the 20th century; both Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower were ill and clearly unable to function for a time. The 25th Amendment, passed in 1967, spells out a procedure for relieving a disabled president.


Footnote 6 -
Part of the controversy over presidential power turns on the question of what additional powers, if any, are inherent in the president's role as commander in chief. This issue becomes even more complicated when presidents take extraordinary actions in time of war or contend that they may legitimately claim extra power by combining the powers of the chief executive and the commander in chief. The Supreme Court scrutinized this question in YOUNGSTOWN SHEET AND TUBE CO. V. SAWYER (1952) and decided that the Korean War emergency did not give President Harry S. Truman the right to seize steel companies that were on strike.
Greater controversy has arisen over whether the president may commit the nation's armed forces to war without a congressional declaration of war, although the Constitution states that "the congress shall have Power . . . To declare War." Many have argued that the United States should not have become involved in hostilities in Korea and Vietnam without a declaration of war. In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution over President Nixon's veto. With some qualifications, the resolution permits the president to commit the armed forces "into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances" in specified emergencies for a period of 60 days without specific authorization from Congress. Congress reserves the power to terminate the action earlier if it sees fit to do so.
The Constitution gives the president the power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. It is important to note that the president frequently negotiates agreements with other governments that are not referred to the Senate for its advice and consent. Two kinds of executive agreements are made: those which the president is authorized by Congress to make, or which he lays before Congress for approval and implementation; and those which he enters into simply by virtue of his diplomatic powers and his powers as commander in chief. The line between executive agreements and treaties is difficult to define. Congress has often been uneasy about what many conceive to be a presidential method of avoiding advice and consent.
Although the president is endowed by the Constitution with considerable power to appoint officials, nothing is explicitly said about his power to remove them. Arguably, the power to remove may be considered part of the power to appoint, although Supreme Court decisions have narrowed the president's removal power to "purely executive officers," not including commissioners of independent regulatory commissions or the War Claims Commission.
Presidents have long asserted EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE, that is, the privilege of withholding testimony about confidential conversations between a president and his close advisers. In UNITED STATES V.
RICHARD M. NIXON (1974), the Supreme Court held that executive privilege does exist but that it is not absolute. In cases where "the legitimate needs of the judicial process outweigh presidential privilege," the privilege must give way. The Court did not speak to the question of whether or not the privilege would have to give way in a congressional hearing; it spoke only of the judicial process.*


Footnote 7 -
Nowhere in the Constitution is the Supreme Court explicitly granted the power of judicial review, that is, the power to declare acts of Congress and state legislatures and the actions of national and state officials unconstitutional and to reverse the decisions of state courts on constitutional questions. The power accorded to the Supreme Court is tersely described in Article III as "the judicial Power"; the institution of judicial review has grown out of the interpretation of that power. The initiative was seized by Chief Justice Marshall in MARBURY V. MADISON (1803), who took upon himself the power to interpret the Constitution as necessary to reach a decision in the case.
Judicial review has become an integral part of the U.S. political system, and it would take nothing less than a constitutional amendment to do away with it. A lively dispute, however, has been going on throughout U.S. history about the extent to which the power should be exercised. Some believe in judicial self-restraint--that is, that the Court should assume that the acts and actions of coordinate departments of the national government and of state governments are constitutional unless it is convincingly demonstrated that they are not. Others, who are often called judicial activists, feel that the Court should be quick to exercise the power of review. They assert that they too believe in judicial self-restraint as a general proposition, but they maintain that when it comes to important rights, the Constitution itself requires that the acts and actions of others should not be assumed constitutional.


Footnote 8 -
Section 2 of Article III concerns jurisdiction of the courts. Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to exercise judicial power in a particular case. As indicated earlier, Congress may not enlarge or diminish the power that the Constitution vests in the courts. But Congress is granted vast power in Section 2 with respect to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Paragraph 2 of that section indicates the relatively few cases in which the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction (the power to be the first court to hear a case), but provides that "in all other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."
Thus, there is no doubt that Congress has the constitutional authority to enlarge or diminish the Court's appellate jurisdiction (its power to review decisions of lower courts). Congress sometimes tries to curtail the appellate jurisdiction of the Court, especially when it is unhappy with recent Court decisions. Such efforts may be unwise, but they are not unconstitutional.


Footnote 9 -
Despite the apparent simplicity and clarity of this provision, it has been the source of an enormous amount of litigation on highly technical grounds, so much so that Justice Robert H. Jackson, in writing about it, called it "the Lawyer's Clause of the Constitution."
This clause is invoked most often today in divorce cases in which one of the spouses goes to another state to obtain the divorce, and in workers compensation cases in which the employment contract is drawn up in one state and the employee is injured in another state. Not only is there a question of which state's court has jurisdiction and what credit the other state's court should give to the first one's judgment, a question also exists about which state's law should take precedence when laws conflict.


Footnote 10 -
Although theories have conflicted about the privileges and immunities clause of Section 2, paragraph 1 (plus another in the 14th Amendment), it has become settled doctrine that the clause only forbids a state from discriminating against citizens of other states in favor of its own. But there are certain privileges and immunities for which a state, as parens patriae, may require a previous residence, such as the right to fish in its streams, to hunt game in its fields and forests, to divert its waters, or even to engage in certain businesses of a quasi-public nature, such as insurance.
Paragraph 2 deals with extradition. By a 1793 act of Congress, this responsibility was delegated to the governors of the states. But the Supreme Court later ruled that while the duty is a legal one, its performance cannot be compelled by writ of mandamus. Consequently, governors of states have often refused compliance when, in their opinion, substantial justice required such refusal. Section 3, paragraph 2, clearly gives Congress the sole power to dispose of and make rules respecting territory or other properties, a provision that Franklin D. Roosevelt ignored when he exchanged U.S. destroyers for British military bases.


Footnote 11 -
Although a movement to call a constitutional convention to approve an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget gained temporary momentum in 1979, only the first method of proposing amendments has ever been applied successfully.
All proposals, except the one to repeal the 18th Amendment, have been referred to state legislatures. In that one instance, Congress prescribed that the proposal should be ratified by popularly elected conventions chosen especially for the purpose, but it left the details of their summoning to the several state legislatures. What resulted in most states was a popular referendum; the conventions were made up almost entirely of delegates previously pledged to vote for or against the proposed amendment.
During the controversy in the 1970s over ratification of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, the perennial question has arisen as to whether a state legislature that has ratified an amendment may later reconsider its vote before the amendment is ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. This question has not been definitively settled. In passing a resolution in 1978 to extend the deadline for ratification of the amendment, however, the Senate specifically rejected an amendment to allow the states to rescind earlier ERA ratification.
The first of the two exceptions to the amending power became obsolete in 1808. The second, that "no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate," explains why the Senate is the only legislative body in the United States whose composition is exempt from the Supreme Court's one-man, one-vote ruling in REYNOLDS V. SIMS (1964).


Footnote 12 -
The paragraph containing the supremacy clause has been called the linchpin of the Constitution because it combines the national government and the states into one governmental system, one federal state. It indicates that although the powers of the national government may be strictly enumerated, they are supreme over any conflicting state powers whatsoever. Accordingly, when a conflict occurs between national and state law, the only question to be answered is, ordinarily, whether the former represents a fair exercise of Congress's power.


Footnote 13 -
The Articles of Confederation provided for their own amendment only by the unanimous consent of the 13-state legislature. The Constitution, however, was to take effect upon being ratified by conventions in only nine states. In the legal sense, this was an act of revolution.


Footnote 14 -
Comments on Amendments 1 - 10
The first ten amendments, which make up the so-called Bill of Rights, were designed to calm the fears of the mild opponents of the Constitution in its original form. The amendments were proposed to the state legislatures by the first Congress that assembled under the Constitution in 1789 and were ratified in 1791. Some of the framers had argued that the Bill of Rights was not necessary since the national government did not in any case have the power to do what was expressly forbidden in the proposed amendments.


Footnote 15 -
The Supreme Court's acceptance of jurisdiction in a suit against a state by a citizen of another state in 1793 provoked such angry reactions in Georgia and such anxieties in other states that, at the first meeting of Congress after this decision, what became the 11th Amendment was proposed by an overwhelming vote and quickly ratified (1798). The amendment has afforded the states protection against suits for debts, but in other respects it has proved comparatively ineffective in protecting states' rights against federal judicial power. The Supreme Court has held that a suit is not "commenced or prosecuted" against a state by the appeal of a case that was instituted by the state itself against a defendant who claims rights under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. This permits a person to sue a state in a federal court by appealing a decision in a state court.


Footnote 16 -
This amendment, (XII)ratified in 1804, supersedes Article II, Section 1, paragraph 3, prescribing the operation of the Electoral College. Of particular interest is the spelling out of the process to be used in the event that no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes.


Footnote 17 -
Comments on Amendments 13, 14 and 15
The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments are known as the RECONSTRUCTION amendments. They were passed in the years following the Civil War in order to end slavery and guarantee blacks the right to vote and other important rights. Over the years, however, the 14th Amendment has been broadened by judicial interpretation to become an important weapon in the continuing defense of the civil rights and individual liberties of all Americans. Its due process clause is generally regarded as protecting almost all rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights from state invasion. The equal protection clause has been invoked to integrate schools, to reapportion electoral districts, and to outlaw a multitude of invidious discriminatory acts and actions.


Footnote 18 -
Comments on Amendments 16 - 26
Of the last 11 amendments to the Constitution (the 16th through the 26th), 6 deal with elections and voting. The 17th Amendment (1913) requires popular election of United States senators; the 19th (1920) gives women the right to vote; the 22d (1951) limits presidents to two terms in office; the 23d (1961) permits residents of the District of Columbia to vote for president and vice-president; the 24th (1964) prevents anyone from being denied the right to vote for failing to pay a poll tax; and the 26th (1971) extends the franchise to 18-year-olds.
Two amendments concern the prohibition of intoxicating liquors. The 18th (1920) instituted prohibition, and the 21st (1933) repealed it.
The 16th Amendment (1913) was the direct result of an 1895 Supreme Court decision that a tax on incomes derived from property was a "direct tax" and could only be imposed by the rule of apportionment according to population. Accordingly, a constitutional amendment was required to permit a practical national income tax.
The 20th Amendment (1933) eliminated the "lame duck" problem. After every election, defeated members of Congress ("lame ducks") participated in a short session of Congress before newly elected members took office in March. This was thought to be disadvantageous. A constitutional amendment was required to change the dates on which presidents, vice-presidents, and members of Congress took office because such a change would shorten the terms of those currently serving.
The 25th Amendment (1967) provided for removal of an incapacitated president and for filling a vacancy in the office of vice-president. The latter provision was invoked upon the resignation of Vice-President Spiro Agnew in 1973 and upon the elevation of Gerald Ford to the presidency in 1974.


Footnote 19 -
The 27th Amendment (1992) declares that Congress may not accept a change in its compensation until a new election has occurred. The text was written by James Madison in 1789 and ratified 203 years later.


Footnote 20 -
A resolution proposing the so-called Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the Congress on Mar. 22, 1972, and submitted to the states for ratification. In 1978 the deadline for ratification was extended until June 30, 1982, at which time the amendment lacked ratification by 3 of a needed 38 states. On July 14, 1982, the amendment was reintroduced into Congress; it was defeated by the House in November 1983.


Footnote 21 -
In August 1978, Congress sent this proposed amendment to the states for ratification. It calls for treating the District of Columbia as though it were a state for purposes described in the text of the amendment. The amendment died in August 1985, having been ratified by only 16 of the needed 38 states.



In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath show, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distrant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Represntative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He hascombined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every state of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justcie and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
John Hancock, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, Mathew Thornton.

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