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United States Constitution
Page one of the original copy of the Constitution
Page one of the original copy of the Constitution
Created September 17, 1787
Ratified June 21, 1788
Location National Archives
Authors Delegates of the Philadelphia Convention
Signers 39 of the 55 Philadelphia Convention delegates
Purpose National constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation
United States of America
Great Seal of the United States

This article is part of the series:
United States Constitution


Original text of the Constitution
Preamble

Articles of the Constitution
I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII

Amendments to the Constitution
Bill of Rights
I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X

Subsequent Amendments
XI · XII · XIII · XIV · XV
XVI · XVII · XVIII · XIX · XX
XXI · XXII · XXIII · XXIV · XXV
XXVI · XXVII


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The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of the United States of America and the federal government of the United States. It provides the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government to the states, to citizens, and to all people within the United States.

The Constitution defines the three main branches of government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a judicial branch headed by the Supreme Court. The Constitution specifies the powers and duties of each branch. The Constitution reserves all unenumerated powers for the respective states and the people, thereby establishing the federal system of government.

The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People". The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.[1][2]

The United States Constitution is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use by any nation in the world today.[3]

The Constitution has a central place in United States law and political culture.[4] The handwritten original document penned by Jacob Shallus is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.

Contents

History

Drafting and ratification requirements

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the United States of America.[5]

In September 1786, commissioners from five states met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce. They invited state representatives to convene in Philadelphia to discuss improvements to the federal government. After debate, the Congress of the Confederation endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation on February 21, 1787.[6] Twelve states, Rhode Island being the only exception, accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787.[6] The resolution calling the Convention specified that its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution.[7] The Philadelphia Convention voted to keep the debates secret, so that the delegates could speak freely. They also decided to draft a new fundamental government design. Despite Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation stating that the union created under the Articles was "perpetual" and that any alteration must be "agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State,"[8] Article VII of the proposed constitution stipulated that only nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect (for the participating states).[1] Current knowledge of the drafting and construction of the United States Constitution comes primarily from the diaries left by James Madison, who kept a complete record of the proceedings at the Constitutional Convention.[9]

Work of the Philadelphia Convention

The Virginia Plan was the unofficial agenda for the Convention, and was drafted chiefly by James Madison, considered to be "The Father of the Constitution" for his major contributions.[9] It was weighted toward the interests of the larger states, and proposed among other points:

An alternative proposal, William Paterson's New Jersey Plan, gave states equal weights and was supported by the smaller states.[11] Roger Sherman of Connecticut brokered The Great Compromise whereby the House would represent the people, a Senate would represent the states, and a president would be elected by electors.[12]

The contentious issue of slavery was too controversial to be resolved during the convention. As a result, the original Constitution contained four provisions tacitly allowing slavery to continue for the next 20 years. Section 9 of Article I allowed the continued "importation" of such persons, Section 2 of Article IV prohibited the provision of assistance to escaping persons and required their return if successful and Section 2 of Article I defined other persons as "three-fifths" of a person for calculations of each state's official population for representation and federal taxation.[13] Article V prohibited any amendments or legislation changing the provision regarding slave importation until 1808, thereby giving the States then existing 20 years to resolve this issue. The failure to do so contributed to the Civil War.[14]

Ratification

Ratification of the Constitution
  Date State Votes
Yes No
1 December 7, 1787 Delaware 30 0
2 December 11, 1787 Pennsylvania 46 23
3 December 18, 1787 New Jersey 38 0
4 January 2, 1788 Georgia 26 0
5 January 9, 1788 Connecticut 128 40
6 February 6, 1788 Massachusetts 187 168
7 April 26, 1788 Maryland 63 11
8 May 23, 1788 South Carolina 149 73
9 June 21, 1788 New Hampshire 57 47
10 June 25, 1788 Virginia 89 79
11 July 26, 1788 New York 30 27
12 November 21, 1789 North Carolina 194 77
13 May 29, 1790 Rhode Island 34 32

Contrary to the process for "alteration" set out in Article 13 of the Articles, Congress submitted the proposal to the states and set the terms for representation.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was completed, followed by a speech given by Benjamin Franklin, who urged unanimity, although the Convention decided that only nine states were needed to ratify. The Convention submitted the Constitution to the Congress of the Confederation, where it received approval according to Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation.[10]

Once the Congress of the Confederation received word of New Hampshire's ratification, it set a timetable for the start of operations under the new Constitution, and on March 4, 1789, the government began operations.

Historical influences

Several ideas in the Constitution were new, and a large number were drawn from the literature of Republicanism in the United States, the experiences of the 13 states, and the British experience with mixed government. The most important influence from the European continent was from Montesquieu, who emphasized the need to have balanced forces pushing against each other to prevent tyranny. (This in itself reflects the influence of Polybius's 2nd century BC treatise on the checks and balances of the constitution of the Roman Republic.) British political philosopher John Locke was a major influence, and the due process clause of the Constitution was partly based on common law stretching back to Magna Carta (1215).[10]

Influences on the Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights consists of the ten amendments added to the Constitution in 1791, as supporters of the constitution had promised critics during the debates of 1788.[15] The English Bill of Rights (1689) was an inspiration for the American Bill of Rights. Both require jury trials, contain a right to keep and bear arms, prohibit excessive bail and forbid "cruel and unusual punishments." Many liberties protected by state constitutions and the Virginia Declaration of Rights were incorporated into the Bill of Rights.

Articles of the Constitution

The Constitution consists of a preamble, seven original articles, twenty-seven amendments, and a paragraph certifying its enactment by the constitutional convention.

Preamble: Statement of purpose

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.

—United States Constitution, Preamble

The Preamble does not grant any particular authority to the federal government and it does not prohibit any particular authority. It establishes the fact that the federal government has no authority outside of what follows the preamble, as amended. "We the people", is one of the most-quoted sections of the Constitution. It was thought by the Federalists during this time that there was no need for a bill of rights as they thought that the preamble explained the people's rights.[citation needed]

Article One: Legislative power

United States

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Politics and government of
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Article One describes the Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The United States Congress is a bicameral body consisting of two co-equal houses: the House of Representatives to represent the people, and the Senate to represent the States.

The article establishes the manner of election and the qualifications of members of each body. Representatives must be at least 25 years old, be a citizen of the United States for seven years, and live in the state they represent. Senators must be at least 30 years old, be a citizen for nine years, and live in the state they represent.

Article I, Section 1, reads, "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." This provision gives Congress more than simply the responsibility to establish the rules governing its proceedings and for the punishment of its members; it places the power of the government primarily in Congress.

Article I Section 8 enumerates the legislative powers. The powers listed and all other powers are made the exclusive responsibility of the legislative branch:

The Congress shall have power... 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.

Article I Section IX provides a list of eight specific limits on congressional power and Article I Section X limits the rights of the states.

The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause in Article One to allow Congress to enact legislation that is neither expressly listed in the enumerated power nor expressly denied in the limitations on Congress. In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), the United States Supreme Court fell back on the strict construction of the necessary and proper clause to read that Congress had "[t]he foregoing powers and all other powers..."

Article Two: Executive power

Section analysis

Section 1 creates the presidency. The section states that the executive power is vested in a President. The presidential term is four years and the Vice President serves the identical term. This section originally set the method of electing the President and Vice President, but this method has been superseded by the Twelfth Amendment.

  • Qualifications. The President must be a natural born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. An obsolete part of this clause provides that instead of being a natural born citizen, a person may be a citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. The reason for this clause was to extend eligibility to Citizens of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, regardless of their place of birth, who were born under the allegiance of a foreign sovereign before the founding of the United States. Without this clause, no one would have been eligible to be president until thirty-five years after the founding of the United States.
  • Succession. Section 1 specifies that the Vice President succeeds to the presidency if the President is removed, unable to discharge the powers and duties of office, dies while in office, or resigns. The original text ("the same shall devolve") left it unclear whether this succession was intended to be on an acting basis (merely taking on the powers of the office) or permanent (assuming the Presidency itself). After the death of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler set the precedent that the succession was permanent; this practice was followed when later presidents died in office. Today the 25th Amendment states that the Vice President becomes President upon the death or disability of the President.
  • Pay. The President receives "Compensation" for being the president, and this compensation may not be increased or decreased during the president's term in office. The president may not receive other compensation from either the United States or any of the individual states.
  • Oath of office. The final clause creates the presidential oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

Section 2 grants substantive powers to the president:

  • The president is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and of the state militias when these are called into federal service.
  • The president may require opinions of the principal officers of the federal government.
  • The president may grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of impeachment (i.e., the president cannot pardon himself or herself to escape impeachment by Congress).

Section 2 grants and limits the president's appointment powers:

  • The president may make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided two-thirds of the Senators who are present agree.
  • With the advice and consent of the Senate, the President may appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not otherwise described in the Constitution.
  • Congress may give the power to appoint lower officers to the President alone, to the courts, or to the heads of departments.
  • The president may make any of these appointments during a congressional recess. Such a "recess appointment" expires at the end of the next session of Congress.

Section 3 opens by describing the president's relations with Congress:

  • The president reports on the state of the union.
  • The president may convene either house, or both houses, of Congress.
  • When the two houses of Congress cannot agree on the time of adjournment, the president may adjourn them to some future date.

Section 3 adds:

  • The president receives ambassadors.
  • The president sees that the laws are faithfully executed.
  • The president commissions all the offices of the federal government.

Section 4 provides for removal of the president and other federal officers. The president is removed on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article Three: Judicial power

Article Three describes the court system (the judicial branch), including the Supreme Court. The article requires that there be one court called the Supreme Court; Congress, at its discretion, can create lower courts, whose judgments and orders are reviewable by the Supreme Court. Article Three also creates the right to trial by jury in all criminal cases, defines the crime of treason, and charges Congress with providing for a punishment for it. This Article also sets the kinds of cases that may be heard by the federal judiciary, which cases the Supreme Court may hear first (called original jurisdiction), and that all other cases heard by the Supreme Court are by appeal under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

Article Four: States' powers and limits

Article Four describes the relationship between the states and the federal government and amongst the states. For instance, it requires states to give "full faith and credit" to the public acts, records, and court proceedings of the other states. Congress is permitted to regulate the manner in which proof of such acts, records, or proceedings may be admitted. The "privileges and immunities" clause prohibits state governments from discriminating against citizens of other states in favor of resident citizens (e.g., having tougher penalties for residents of Ohio convicted of crimes within Michigan). It also establishes extradition between the states, as well as laying down a legal basis for freedom of movement and travel amongst the states. Today, this provision is sometimes taken for granted, especially by citizens who live near state borders; but in the days of the Articles of Confederation, crossing state lines was often a much more arduous and costly process. Article Four also provides for the creation and admission of new states. The Territorial Clause gives Congress the power to make rules for disposing of federal property and governing non-state territories of the United States. Finally, the fourth section of Article Four requires the United States to guarantee to each state a republican form of government, and to protect the states from invasion and violence.

Article Five: Amendments

An amendment may be ratified in three ways:

  • The new amendment may be approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, then sent to the states for approval.
  • Two-thirds of the state legislatures may apply to Congress for a constitutional convention to consider amendments, which are then sent to the states for approval.
  • Congress may require ratification by special convention. The convention method has been used only once, to approve the 21st Amendment (repealing prohibition, 1933).

Regardless of the method of proposing an amendment, final ratification requires approval by three-fourths of the states.

Today Article Five places only one limit on the amending power: no amendment may deprive a state of equal representation in the Senate without that state's consent. The original Article V included other limits on the amending power regarding slavery and taxation; however, these limits expired in 1808.

Article Six: Federal power

Article Six establishes the Constitution, and the laws and treaties of the United States made according to it, to be the supreme law of the land, and that "the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the laws or constitutions of any state notwithstanding." It also validates national debt created under the Articles of Confederation and requires that all federal and state legislators, officers, and judges take oaths or affirmations to support the Constitution. This means that the states' constitutions and laws should not conflict with the laws of the federal constitution and that in case of a conflict, state judges are legally bound to honor the federal laws and constitution over those of any state.

Article Six also states "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Article Seven: Ratification

Article Seven sets forth the requirements for ratification of the Constitution. The Constitution would not take effect until at least nine states had ratified the Constitution in state conventions specially convened for that purpose, and it would only apply to those states that ratified it.[7] (See above Drafting and ratification requirements.)

Judicial review

The way the Constitution is understood is influenced by court decisions, especially those of the Supreme Court. These decisions are referred to as precedents. In the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court established the doctrine of judicial review. Judicial review is the power of the Court to examine federal legislation, executive agency rules and state laws, to decide their constitutionality, and to strike them down if found unconstitutional. Judicial review includes the power of the Court to explain the meaning of the Constitution as it applies to particular cases. Over the years, Court decisions on issues ranging from governmental regulation of radio and television to the rights of the accused in criminal cases have changed the way many constitutional clauses are interpreted, without amendment to the actual text of the Constitution.

Legislation passed to implement the Constitution, or to adapt those implementations to changing conditions, broadens and, in subtle ways, changes the meanings given to the words of the Constitution. Up to a point, the rules and regulations of the many federal executive agencies have a similar effect. If an action of Congress or the agencies is challenged, however, it is the court system that ultimately decides whether these actions are permissible under the Constitution.

Amendments

The framers of the Constitution were aware that changes would be necessary if the Constitution was to endure as the nation grew. However, they were also conscious that such change should not be easy, lest it permit ill-conceived and hastily passed amendments. On the other hand, they also wanted to ensure that a rigid requirement of unanimity would not block action desired by the vast majority of the population. Their solution was a two-step process for proposing and ratifying new amendments.[16]

Amending the Constitution is a two-part process: amendments must be proposed then ratified. Amendments can be proposed one of two ways. To date, all amendments, whether ratified or not, have been proposed by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress. Over 10,000 constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress since 1789; during the last several decades, between 100 and 200 have been offered in a typical congressional year. Most of these ideas never leave Congressional committee, and far fewer get proposed by the Congress for ratification.

Alternatively, if two-thirds of the state legislatures demand one, Congress must call for a constitutional convention, which would have the power to propose amendments. As no such convention has been called, it is unclear how one would work in practice. In two instances—reapportionment in the 1960s and a balanced federal budget during the 1970s and 1980s—attempts to use this process have come extremely close to triggering a constitutional convention. The apportionment debate of the 1960s fell only one state short of the required number of states

Regardless of how the amendment is proposed, it must also be ratified by three-fourths of states. Congress determines whether the state legislatures or special state conventions ratify the amendment. The 21st Amendment is the only one that employed state conventions for ratification.

There are currently only a few proposals for amendments which have entered mainstream political debate. These include the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Balanced Budget Amendment, and the Flag Desecration Amendment. All three proposals are supported primarily by conservatives, but failed during periods of Republican control of Congress to achieve the supermajorities necessary for submission to the states. As such, none of these is likely to be proposed under the current Congress, which is controlled by the more liberal Democratic Party.

Unlike amendments to most constitutions, amendments to the United States Constitution are appended to the body of the text without altering or removing what already exists, although nothing prevents a future amendment from doing so.

Successful amendments

The Constitution has twenty-seven amendments. The first ten, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified simultaneously by 1791. The following seventeen were ratified separately over the next two centuries.

The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1 to 10)

It is commonly understood that originally the Bill of Rights was not intended to apply to the states; however, there is no such limit in the text itself, except where an amendment refers specifically to the federal government. One example is the First Amendment, which says only that "Congress shall make no law...", and under which some states in the early years of the nation officially established a religion. A rule of inapplicability to the states remained until 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was passed, which stated, in part, that:

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.

The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to extend most, but not all, parts of the Bill of Rights to the states. Nevertheless, the balance of state and federal power has remained a battle in the Supreme Court.

The amendments that became the Bill of Rights were the last ten of the twelve amendments proposed in 1789. The second of the twelve proposed amendments, regarding the compensation of members of Congress, remained unratified until 1992, when the legislatures of enough states finally approved it; as a result, after pending for two centuries, it became the Twenty-seventh Amendment.

The first of the twelve, which is still technically pending before the state legislatures for ratification, pertains to the apportionment of the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. The most recent state whose lawmakers are known to have ratified this proposal is Kentucky in 1792, during that commonwealth's first month of statehood.

Subsequent amendments (11 to 27)

Amendments to the Constitution after the Bill of Rights cover many subjects. The majority of the seventeen later amendments stem from continued efforts to expand individual civil or political liberties, while a few are concerned with modifying the basic governmental structure drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. Although the United States Constitution has been amended 27 times, only 26 of the amendments are currently in effect because the twenty-first amendment supersedes the eighteenth.

Unratified amendments

Of the thirty-three amendments that have been proposed by Congress, six have failed ratification by the required three-quarters of the state legislatures, and four of those six are still technically pending before state lawmakers (see Coleman v. Miller). Starting with the 18th Amendment, each proposed amendment has included a deadline for passage, except the 19th Amendment (women's voting) and the Child Labor Amendment, proposed in 1924 and still unratified. The following are the unratified proposals:

  • The Congressional Apportionment Amendment, proposed by the 1st Congress on September 25, 1789, defined a formula for how many members there would be in the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. Ratified by eleven states, the last being Kentucky in June 1792 during Kentucky's initial month of statehood, this amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. In principle it may yet be ratified, though as written it became moot when the population of the United States reached ten million.
  • The so-called missing thirteenth amendment, or "Titles of Nobility Amendment" (TONA), proposed by the 11th Congress on May 1, 1810, would have ended the citizenship of any American accepting "any Title of Nobility or Honour" from any foreign power. Some maintain that the amendment was ratified by the legislatures of enough states, and that a conspiracy has suppressed it, but this has been thoroughly debunked.[18] Known to have been ratified by lawmakers in twelve states, the last in 1812, this amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. It may yet be ratified.
  • The Corwin Amendment, proposed by the 36th Congress on March 2, 1861, would have forbidden any attempt to subsequently amend the Constitution to empower the federal government to "abolish or interfere" with the "domestic institutions" of the states (a delicate way of referring to slavery). It was ratified by only Ohio and Maryland lawmakers before the outbreak of the Civil War. Illinois lawmakers—sitting as a state constitutional convention at the time—likewise approved it, but that action is of questionable validity. The proposed amendment contains no expiration date for ratification and may yet be ratified. However, adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments after the Civil War likely means that the amendment would be ineffective if adopted.
  • A child labor amendment proposed by the 68th Congress on June 2, 1924. It provides, "The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age." This amendment is highly unlikely to be ratified, since subsequent federal child labor laws have uniformly been upheld as a valid exercise of Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause.

Expired deadlines. This category is separate from the other four unratified constitutional amendments. These two were not ratified by their deadlines and they have expired.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, which reads in pertinent part "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Proposed by the 92nd Congress on March 22, 1972, it was ratified by the legislatures of 35 states, and expired on either March 22, 1979 or on June 30, 1982, depending upon one's point of view of a controversial three-year extension of the ratification deadline, which was passed by the 95th Congress in 1978. Of the 35 states ratifying it, four later rescinded their ratifications before the extended ratification period which began on March 23, 1979 and a fifth, while not going so far as to rescind its earlier ratification, adopted a resolution stipulating that its approval would not extend beyond March 22, 1979. There continues to be disagreement over whether such reversals are valid; no court has ruled on the question, including the Supreme Court. A precedent against the validity of rescission was first established during the ratification process of the 14th Amendment when Ohio and New Jersey rescinded their earlier approvals, but yet were counted as ratifying states when the 14th Amendment was ultimately proclaimed part of the Constitution in 1868.
  • The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment was proposed by the 95th Congress on August 22, 1978. Had this amendment been ratified, it would have granted to Washington, D.C. two Senators and at least one member of the House of Representatives as though the District of Columbia were a state. Ratified by the legislatures of only 16 states (out of the required 38), the proposed amendment expired on August 22, 1985.

Criticism of the Constitution

Several academics have criticized the Constitution for specific shortcomings. University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato wants an amendment to organize primaries to prevent a "frontloaded calendar" long before the election to prevent a "race by states to the front of the primary pack" which subverts the national interest, in his view.[19] Sabato details more objections in his book A More Perfect Constitution.[19] Richard Labunski agrees with Sabato about the "incoherent organization of primaries and caucuses,"[20] and faults the Constitution for enabling presidents to continue unpopular wars,[20] for requiring presidents to be "natural born citizens",[20] for lifetime tenure for Supreme Court judges which "produces senior judges representing the views of past generations better than views of the current day."[20] He writes "If the 26 least populated states voted as a bloc, they would control the U.S. Senate with a total of just under 17% of the country’s population."[20]

University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson also wonders whether it makes sense to give "Wyoming the same number of votes as California, which has roughly seventy times the population".[21] He thinks this imbalance causes a "steady redistribution of resources from large states to small states."[21] Levinson is critical of the electoral college since it allows the possibility of electing presidents who do not win the majority of votes.[21] Three times in American history, presidents have been elected by the electoral college despite failing to win the popular vote: 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison) and 2000 (George W. Bush).[22][23][24][25] The current Constitution does not give the people a quick way to remove incompetent or ill presidents, in his view.[25] Others have criticized the politically driven redistricting process popularly known as gerrymandering.[26]

Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson believes the presidency has become too powerful. In her book, Bad for Democracy, she argues that all citizens seem to do, politically, is vote for president every four years, and not much else. Nelson criticizes excessive worship of the president or presidentialism and sees the office as essentially undemocratic.[27]

Yale professor Robert A. Dahl sees a problem with an American tendency towards worship of the Constitution itself, and sees aspects of American governance which are "unusual and potentially undemocratic: the federal system, the bicameral legislature, judicial review, presidentialism, and the electoral college system."[28] Levinson and Labunski and others have called for a Second Constitutional Convention,[29] although professors like Dahl believe there is no real hope this might ever happen.[28]

Translations

The Constitution has been translated into many world languages:

Professor James Chen has annotated the Spanish translation prepared by the U.S. State Department.[51] His notes focus on the problems and nuances of this translation.

Nguyen Canh Binh has translated the Constitution into Vietnamese.[52]

The Bill of Rights has been translated into Hawaiian.[53]

There is a partial translation of the Bill of Rights into Esperanto.[54]

The Federal Judicial Center has links to other materials about the United States government and judicial system.[47] The site has materials in 16 languages besides English, such as Indonesian, Malay, Serb, and Vietnamese.

Original pages of the Constitution

See also

General

Related documents

Notes

  1. ^ a b WikiSource. "WikiSource: Constitution of the United States of America". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_United_States_of_America. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  2. ^ Library of Congress. "Primary Documents in American History: The United States Constitution". http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Constitution.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Constitution Center". http://www.ushistory.org/tour/tour_ncc.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  4. ^ Casey (1974)
  5. ^ Christian G. Fritz, American Sovereigns: The People and America's Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2008) at p. 131 [ISBN 978-0-521-88188-3 (noting that "Madison, along with other Americans clearly understood" the Articles of Confederation "to be the first federal Constitution.")
  6. ^ a b NARA. "National Archives Article on the Constitutional Convention". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  7. ^ a b National Archives and Records Administration. "National Archives Article on the Constitution". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  8. ^ WikiSource. "Articles of Confederation". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Articles_of_Confederation. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  9. ^ a b NARA. "National Archives Article on James Madison". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  10. ^ a b c NARA. "National Archives Article on the Entire Constitutional Convention". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  11. ^ NARA. "National Archives Article on William Paterson". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  12. ^ NARA. "National Archives Article on Roger Sherman". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  13. ^ Section 2 of Article I provides in part: "Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states . . . 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."
  14. ^ See South Carolina Declaration of Causes in Seccession (December 24, 1860), reprinted in Richard Hofstadter, Great Issues in American History. Volume II, Vintage Books (1958), p.76-7; Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress (July 4, 1861) reprinted in Hofstadter, supra.
  15. ^ NARA. "National Archives Article on the Bill of Rights". http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  16. ^ Lutz, Donald (1994). Toward a theory of constitutional amendment. 
  17. ^ "Findlaw.com". Caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment03/. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  18. ^ "The Missing Thirteenth Amendment". Thirdamendment.com. http://www.thirdamendment.com/missing.html. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
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References

Primary sources

  • "The Avalon Project: Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/debates/debcont.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part One: September 1787 to February 1788 (The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-42-9
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part Two: January to August 1788 (The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-64-X
  • Garvey, John H. ed. Modern Constitutional Theory: A Reader 5th ed 2004; 820pp.
  • Kurland, Philip B. and Lerner, Ralph, eds. The Founders' Constitution. The work consists of “extracts from the leading works of political theory, history, law, and constitutional argument on which the Framers and their contemporaries drew and which they themselves produced.” (Liberty Fund ISBN: 0-86597-279-6) The Online Edition is a joint venture of the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund.
  • Mason, Alpheus Thomas and Donald Grier Stephenson, ed. American Constitutional Law: Introductory Essays and Selected Cases (14th Edition) (2004)
  • Tribe, Laurence H. American Constitutional Law (1999)

Reference books

  • Hall, Kermit, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Oxford U. Press, 1992. 1032 pp.
  • Levy, Leonard W. et al., ed. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. 5 vol; 1992; 3000 pp
  • US Law Dictionary

Secondary sources

  • Amar, Akhil Reed (2005). "In the Beginning". America's Constitution: A Biography. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6262-4. 
  • Anastaplo, George, "Reflections on Constitutional Law" 2006 ISBN 0-8131-9156-4
  • Beard, Charles. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, 1913.
  • Richard R. Beeman, Stephen Botein, and Edward C., Carter, II, eds., Beyond Confederation: Origins of the Constitution and American National Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 1987);
  • Bernstein, Richard B. Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution (Harvard University Press, 1987);
  • Bernstein, Richard B. Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It? (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1993; Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995);
  • Gregory Casey. "The Supreme Court and Myth: An Empirical Investigation," Law & Society Review, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring, 1974), pp. 385–420
  • Cooley, Thomas, The General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States of America, Third Edition, revised by Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin, Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1898.
  • Cooley, Thomas, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations, Boston. Little, Brown and Company, 1878.
  • Countryman, Edward, ed. What Did the Constitution Mean to Early Americans.Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. xii + 169 pp. online review ISBN 0-312-18262-7.
  • Edling, Max M. (2003). A Revolution in Favor of Government: Origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514870-3. 
  • Ely, James W., Jr. The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights. Oxford U. Press, 1992. 193 pp.
  • Fallon, Richard H. (2004). The Dynamic Constitution: An Introduction to American Constitutional Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84094-5. 
  • Finkelman, Paul. Slavery and the Founders: Race and Slavery in the Age of Jefferson (M.E. Sharpe, 1996);
  • Fritz, Christian G. American Sovereigns: The People and America's Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2008) [ISBN 978-0-521-88188-3
  • Hoffer, Peter Charles. The Law's Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America. U. of North Carolina Press, 1990. 301 pp.
  • Irons, Peter. A People's History of the Supreme Court. 2000. 542 pp.
  • Kammen, Michael (1986). A Machine that Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-52905-7. 
  • Kelly, Alfred Hinsey; Harbison, Winfred Audif; Belz, Herman (1991). The American Constitution: its origins and development (7th ed.). New York: Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-96119-2. 
  • Kersch, Ken I. Constructing Civil Liberties: Discontinuities in the Development of American Constitutional Law. Cambridge University Press, 2004. 392 pp.
  • Kyvig, David E. Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1776–1995 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996);
  • Levin, Daniel Lessard. Representing Popular Sovereignty: The Constitution in American Political Culture. State U. of New York Press., 1999. 283 pp.
  • Licht, Robert A., ed. The Framers and Fundamental Rights. American Enterprise Inst. Press, 1991. 194 pp.
  • Manley, John F. and Dolbeare, Kenneth M., ed (1987). The Case Against the Constitution: From the Anti-Federalists to the Present. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-87332-432-3. 
  • Marshall, Thurgood, "The Constitution: A Living Document," Howard Law Journal 1987: 623-28.
  • Paschal, George Washington, The Constitution of the United States Defined and Carefully Annotated Washington DC, 1868
  • Powell, H. Jefferson. A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics. University of Chicago Press, 2002. 251 pp.
  • Rakove, Jack N. Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. Knopf, 1996. 455 pp.
  • Sandoz, Ellis. A Government of Laws: Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding. Louisiana State U. Press, 1990. 259 pp.
  • Sheldon, Charles H. Essentials of Constitutional Law: The Supreme Court and the Fundamental Law (2001) 208 pp
  • Spalding, Matthew, & Forte, David F., eds. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2005. (A limited preview is available at Google Books.)
  • Story, Joseph, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States: Volume I, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States: Volume II and Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States: Volume III, (3 vols., 1833), a work of profound learning which is still the standard treatise on the subject. Story published a One Volume Abridgment the same year.
  • Story, Joseph, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, Boston, Marsh, Capen, Lyon & Webb, 1840.
  • VanBurkleo, Sandra F.; Hall, Kermit L.; and Kaczorowski, Robert J., eds. Constitutionalism and American Culture: Writing the New Constitutional History. University Press of Kansas, 2002. 464 pp.
  • Mazzone, Jason (2005). "The Creation of a Constitutional Culture". Tulsa Law Review 40 (4): 671. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=831927. 
  • Smith, Jean Edward; Levine, Herbert M. (1988). Civil Liberties & Civil Rights Debated. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 
  • Smith, Jean Edward (1989). The Constitution and American Foreign Policy. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company. 
  • White, G. Edward. The Constitution and the New Deal. Harvard University Press, 2000. 385 pp.
  • Wiecek, William M., "The Witch at the Christening: Slavery and the Constitution's Origins," Leonard W. Levy and Dennis J. Mahoney, eds., The Framing and Ratification of the Constitution (Macmillan, 1987), 178-84.
  • Willoughby, Westel Woodbury, Principles of the constitutional law of the United States New York, Baker, Voorhis & Company, 1912.

Further reading

  • Klos, Stanley L. (2004). President Who? Forgotten Founders. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Evisum, Inc.. p. 261. ISBN 0-9752627-5-0. 

External links

National Archives

Official U.S. government sources

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Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America
Page II of the United States Constitution
Page III of the United States Constitution
Page IV of the United States Constitution

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was completed on September 17, 1787, with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, PA, and was later ratified by special conventions in each state. It created a federal union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union.

Contents

See also

Quotes

  • We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the confession in open court.
  • 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 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 Bill of Rights

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The right of the people to be secure... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.
  • Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
  • Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
  • 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... 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.
  • The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged... on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be abridged... on account of sex.

About the United States Constitution

  • The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their own will, and lives only by their will.
    • John Marshall, Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheaton (19 U.S.) 264, 389 (1821).

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Constitution of the United States of America
the Federal Convention of 1787
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was completed on September 17, 1787, with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was later ratified by special conventions in each state. It created a federal union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union. It replaced the less defined union that had existed under the Articles of Confederation. It took effect on March 4, 1789 and has served as a model for the constitutions of numerous other nations. The Constitution of the United States of America is the oldest written national constitution in use.
Excerpted from United States Constitution on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Constitution is the second of the three Charters of Freedom along with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, with later amendments. This edition is taken from the US House of Representatives web site.

Related documents: Declaration of Independence; Articles of Confederation; Constitution; Bill of Rights; other amendments & unsuccessful amendments.

Page I
Page II
Page III
Page IV

Preamble

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.

Article I

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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, Pensylvania 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 of 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 Place 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 increased 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.

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 a 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 Offenses 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.

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 the 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.

Article II

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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 increased 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."

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 Offenses 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.

Article III

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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 Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

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.

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.

Article IV

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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.

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.

Article V

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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.

Article VI

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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.

Article VII

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The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

Signatures

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 Independance (sic) 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 - Wm Saml Johnson, Roger Sherman

New York - Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey - Wil Livingston, David Brearley, Wm Paterson, Jona. Dayton

Pensylvania - B Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robt Morris, Geo. Clymer, Thos FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouv Morris

Delaware - Geo. Read, Gunning Bedford jun, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jaco. Broom

Maryland - James McHenry, Dan of St Tho Jenifer, Danl Carroll

Virginia - John Blair, James Madison Jr.

North Carolina - Wm Blount, Richd Dobbs Spaight, Hu Williamson

South Carolina - J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler

Georgia - William Few, Abr Baldwin

Attest: William Jackson, Secretary

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).







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