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Article Six of the United States Constitution: Wikis

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Article Six establishes the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land, forbids religion as a requirement for holding a governmental position and holds the United States under the Constitution responsible for debts incurred by the United States under the Articles of Confederation.

Contents

Text

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 notwithstanding.

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.

Debts

The first clause of the Article provides that debts contracted prior to the adoption of the Constitution remain valid, as they were under the Articles of Confederation.

Supremacy

Clause two provides that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. It provides that state courts are bound by the supreme law; in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied. Even state constitutions are subordinate to federal law.

The Supreme Court under John Marshall was influential in construing the supremacy clause. It first ruled that it had the power to review the decisions of state courts allegedly in conflict with the supreme law, claims of "state sovereignty" notwithstanding. Congress may not require religious tests for an office under the United States. Thus, Congress may include the customary words "so help me God" in an oath, but an individual would be under no compulsion to utter them, as such a requirement would constitute a religious test.

The current oath administered is as follows:

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.]

John F. Kennedy, in his Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on 12 September 1960, said,

[N]either do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test, even by indirection.

Religion

The third clause of the Article provides that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any public office. This clause could be interpreted to mean to prevent the discrimination of people with differing religious principles in regards to office holding, and to disallow laws which would give such a representing religious organization power over policymaking by excluding others whom do not share the same religious beliefs.

References

  • Irons, Peter. (1999). A People's History of the Supreme Court. New York: Penguin.

External links

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