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United States constitutional law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States constitutional law is the body of law governing the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution.[1]

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  • ✪ United States Constitution · Amendments · Bill of Rights · Complete Text + Audio
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  • ✪ Constitutional Law Overview in About 5 Minutes
  • ✪ The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights

Transcription

The Constitution of the United States of America September 17, 1787 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 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. 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 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 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. 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. 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 its 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 Control 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 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 choose 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 choose 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. 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 choose from them by ballot the Vice President. The Congress may determine the time of choosing 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 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. 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. 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. 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 labor 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 labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor 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 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 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, anything 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 The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the states so ratifying the same. AMENDMENTS 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 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; 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. 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. 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. 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 VX 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. 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 or 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 eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. Section 2 The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Amendment XXVII No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened. End of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Contents

Interpreting the Constitution and the authority of the Supreme Court

Beginning

scope and application of the terms of the Constitution, although not lawfully.  The states created the US Constitution, and it is not for interpretation as it means exactly today what it meant when the document was created.  [“On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823] The US Constitution covers areas of law such as the relationship between the federal government and state governments, requires the rights of individuals be protected by those who serve within our governments - state and federal, and other fundamental aspects of the application of government authority in the United States. It is a field of law that is by some considered broad and complex, although defined in writing for anyone to read and learn to understand by referring to the writings of those involved in the creation of the US Constitution.  Some constitutional scholars maintain that the authors of the Constitution intended that it be vague and subject to interpretation so that it could be adapted to the needs of a changing society, and try to use the excuse that today is more complex so the US Constitution needs to be re-interpreted.  Others maintain that the provisions of the Constitution should be strictly construed and their provisions applied in a very literal manner as put into writing by those who created it so that all could understand the supreme Law of this nation.[2]

The power of judicial review

Early in its history, in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) and Fletcher v. Peck, 10 U.S. 87 (1810), the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the judicial power granted to it by Article III of the United States Constitution included the power of judicial review, to consider challenges to the constitutionality of a State or Federal law. According to this jurisprudence, when the Court measures a law against the Constitution and finds the law wanting, the Court is empowered and indeed obligated to strike down that law. In this role, for example, the Court has struck down state laws for failing to conform to the Contract Clause (see, e.g., Dartmouth College v. Woodward) or the Equal Protection Clause (see, e.g., Brown v. Board of Education), and it has invalidated federal laws for failing to arise under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (see, e.g., United States v. Lopez).

Scope and effect

The Supreme Court's interpretations of constitutional law are binding on the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, on the lower courts in the federal system, and on all state courts. This system of binding interpretations or precedents evolved from the common law system (called "stare decisis"), where courts are bound by their own prior decisions and by the decisions of higher courts. While neither English common law courts nor continental civil law courts generally had the power to declare legislation unconstitutional (only the power to change law), the United States Supreme Court has long been understood to have the power to declare federal or state legislation unconstitutional.

Prudential limits—the principles of justiciability

Before deciding a constitutional question, the Supreme Court may consider whether the court can avoid the constitutional question by basing its decision on a non-constitutional issue at dispute. For example, if a federal statute is on shaky constitutional footing but has been applied to the challenging party in a manner that does not implicate the basis for the constitutional claim, the Supreme Court will not decide whether the statute might be unconstitutional if it were applied differently. Or, when reviewing a decision of a state's highest court, the Court may avoid the constitutional question if the state court's decision is based on an independent and adequate state-law grounds.

Federal courts consider other doctrines before allowing a lawsuit to go forward:

  • Actual dispute - the lawsuit concerns a "case or controversy" under the meaning of Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution
  • Standing - the party bringing the suit must have (1) a particularized and concrete injury, (2) a causal connection between the complained-of conduct and that injury, and (3) a likelihood that a favorable court decision will redress the injury
  • Ripeness - a party will lack standing where his/her case raises abstract, hypothetical or conjectural questions.
  • Mootness - a party is seeking redress over a case that no longer has a basis for dispute, though there are limited exceptions
  • Political question - the issues raised in the suit are unreviewable because the Constitution relegates it to another branch of government.

Consistent with these doctrines, the Court considers itself prohibited from issuing advisory opinions where there is no actual case or controversy before them.(See Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (1911)). These doctrines, because they apply to all federal cases whether of constitutional dimension or not, are discussed separately in the article on federal jurisdiction.

Differing views on the role of the Court

There are a number of ways that commentators and Justices of the Supreme Court have defined the Court's role, and its jurisprudential method:

  • The Late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and current Associate Justice Clarence Thomas are known as originalists[3]; originalism is a family of similar theories that hold that the Constitution has a fixed meaning from an authority contemporaneous with the ratification (although opinion as to what that authority is varies; see discussion at originalism), and that it should be construed in light of that authority. Unless there is a historic and/or extremely pressing reason to interpret the Constitution differently, originalists vote as they think the Constitution as it was written in the late 18th Century would dictate.
  • Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter was a leading proponent of so-called judicial restraint,[citation needed] in that he believed that the Supreme Court should not make law (which, by invalidating or significantly altering the meaning of Congressional bills, Frankfurter felt they were), and so believers in this idea often vote not to grant cases the writ of certiorari.
  • Associate Justice Stephen Breyer generally advocates a quasi-purposivist approach,[citation needed] focusing on what the law was supposed to achieve rather than what it actually says, and measuring the possible outcomes of voting one way or another.
  • Other Justices have taken a more instrumentalist approach, believing it is the role of the Supreme Court to reflect societal changes. They often see the Constitution as a living, changing and adaptable document; thus their legal rationale will sometimes be in stark contrast to originalists. Compare, for example, the differing opinions of Justices Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is a more instrumentalist justice.[citation needed]
  • Finally, there are some Justices who do not have a clear judicial philosophy, and so decide cases purely on each one's individual merits.

Debate continues over which, if any, of these interpretive strategies is "better". Complicating the analysis is the lack of direct correspondence between the various interpretive strategies and contemporary notions of "conservatism" or "liberalism".

Federalism

In essence, the Constitution is a compromise between two extremes feared by the framers: the development of a British-like monarchy on one end of the spectrum, and the ineffectiveness of an overly decentralized government on the other. The balance reached was the model of federalism: a binary structure of management composed of divided powers between the governments of each of the states and a centralized federal government.

Supporters of federalism believed that a division of power between federal and state governments would decrease the likelihood of tyranny, which on a federal level would be much more concerning than its occurrence locally. The framers felt the states were in the best position to restrict such movements.[4] Another frequently raised value of federalism is the notion that since the states are much closer to the people, they can be more responsive to and effective in resolving the localized concerns of the public.[5] Accordingly, the Constitution explicitly enumerates the powers given to the federal government and bestows the remaining discretion to the states.

In order to create a cohesive government, the framers felt certain powers must have belonged to a centralized authority. Conducting foreign affairs, for example, would be severely curtailed if not embarked upon in a nationally uniform manner. Similarly, a standardized currency was of prime importance for a robust and capable economy. As a result, the powers to raise armies, create treaties, and to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states, among others, were given to the federal government.

Powers granted by the Constitution to the federal government

The federal commerce power

Congress is authorized to "regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes" under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution.

Important early cases include United States v. E.C. Knight Co. (1895) which held that the federal Sherman Act could not be applied to manufacture of sugar because "commerce succeeds to manufacture, and is not a part of it." Essentially, the Court cabined commerce as a phase of business distinct from other aspects of production.

In the Shreveport Rate Cases (1914), the Court permitted congressional regulation of railroad lines because Congress was regulating the "channels of commerce" and although the regulation was on intrastate rail lines, the effect of the intrastate lines was direct so as to concern interstate commerce. In Schecter Poultry, the Court invalidated a federal statute seeking to enforce labor conditions at a slaughterhouse for chickens; the Court held the relationship between labor conditions and chickens was too indirect - that chickens come to rest upon arrival at the slaughterhouse (thereby ending the stream of commerce), so whatever happened in the slaughterhouse was not Congress's business.

In these early cases, the Court approached problems formalistically - from cabining commerce to a specific zone to a direct/indirect test. This continued in the cow case, Stafford v. Wallace, where the court articulated a "Stream of Commerce" test; essentially, Stream of Commerce conceptualizes commerce as a flow mostly concerned with the transportation and packaging of goods and not including acquisition of raw materials at the front end and retail of those goods at the tail end.

However, with the Great Depression, there was political pressure for increased federal government intervention and the Court increasingly deferred to Congress. A seminal case was NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin where the Court adopted a realist approach and reasoned that interstate commerce is an elastic conception which required the Court to think of problems not as falling on either side of a dichotomy but in a more nuanced fashion.

Expansion of Congress's commerce clause power continued with Wickard in 1942 involving a farmer's refusal to comply with a federal quota. Wickard articulated the aggregation principle: that effects of the entire class matter rather than composites of the class, so even if the single farmer did not substantially affect interstate commerce, all farmers - the class to which he belonged - do - they compete with the national market.

With recent cases[when?] like Lopez and Morrison, there has been a return to formalism - i.e. legal tests created by the Court to determine if Congress has overstepped its bounds. In both those cases, the federal statutes were invalidated. But in Gonzalez v. Raich (post Lopez and Morrison), principles of Wickard were resurrected, leaving the future of commerce clause doctrine uncertain.

The spending power

Clause 1 of Article I, § 8 grants Congress the power to tax and spend "to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States," subject to the qualification that all taxes and duties be uniform across the country.

Other federal powers

Other federal powers specifically enumerated by Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution (and generally considered exclusive to the federal government) are:

  • to coin money, and to regulate its value;
  • to establish laws governing bankruptcy;
  • to establish post offices (although Congress may allow for the establishment of non-governmental mail services by private entities);
  • to control the issuance of copyrights and patents (although copyrights and patents may also be enforced in state courts);
  • to govern the District of Columbia and all other federal properties;
  • to control naturalization (and, implicitly, the immigration) of aliens;
  • to enforce "by appropriate legislation" the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution (a function of the Constitution's Necessary and Proper clause);
  • to propose, by a two-thirds vote, constitutional amendments for ratification by three-fourths of the states pursuant to the terms of Article V.

Powers reserved by the states

Although, for all practical purposes (as proved by the fact of the U.S. Civil War), the federal government does not actually govern by the "consent of the states," some of the more important powers reserved by the states to themselves in the Constitution are:

  • the power, by "application of two-thirds of the legislatures of the several states," to require Congress to convene a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to or revising the terms of the Constitution (see Article V).

Suits against states: effect of the 11th Amendment

The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution defines the scope of when and in what circumstances a state may be taken to federal court. Taken literally, the Amendment prohibits a citizen from suing a state in federal court through the sovereign immunity doctrine. However, the Court has articulated three exceptions: 1) Particular state officials may be sued, 2) States can waive immunity or consent to suit, and 3) Congress may authorize suits against a state through the abrogation doctrine. However, concerning this latter exception, the Supreme Court has held in Seminole Tribe v. Florida that Congress may not, outside of the Fourteenth Amendment, authorize federal lawsuits against states in abrogation of the Eleventh Amendment's guarantee of sovereign state immunity.

Intergovernmental Immunities and Interstate Relations

its agencies and instrumentalities, are immune from state regulation that interferes with federal activities, functions, and programs. State laws and regulations cannot substantially interfere with an authorized federal program, except for minor or indirect regulation, such as state taxation of federal employees.

Limiting the power of the three branches—the system of "checks and balances"

Boundaries of power: Congress versus the executive

Many powers of Congress and of the President are specifically enumerated by the Constitution.

Enumerated powers of Congress

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates many explicit powers of Congress. See Enumerated powers.

Enumerated powers of the President

Several important powers are enumerated to the President under Article II, Section 2. These include:

  • Commander-in-chief of the armed forces;
  • Power to pardon offenses against the United States;
  • Power to make treaties (with consent of the Senate); and the
  • Power to appoint judges, ambassadors, and other officers of the United States (often requiring Senate consent);

The presidential veto power

The Presentment Clause (Article I, Section 7, cl. 2-3) grants the president the power to veto Congressional legislation and Congress the power to override a presidential veto with a supermajority. Under the clause, once a bill has been passed in identical form by both houses of Congress, with a two thirds majority in both houses, it becomes federal law.

First, the president can sign the bill into law. In this scenario there is Congressional agreement. Second, if not in agreement, the president can veto the legislation by sending the bill back to Congress, within ten days of reception, unsigned and with a written statement of his objections. Third, the president can choose not to act at all on the bill, which can have one of two effects, depending on the circumstances. If Congress is in session, the bill automatically becomes law, without the president's signature, only with a two thirds majority of both houses. If, however, Congress adjourned during that 10-day period, the bill fails to become law in a procedural device known as the "pocket veto". The bill becomes "mute".

The president approves or rejects a bill in its entirety; he is not permitted to veto specific provisions. In 1996, Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed, the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which gave the president the power to veto individual items of budgeted expenditures in appropriations bills. The Supreme Court subsequently declared the line-item veto unconstitutional as a violation of the Presentment Clause in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998). The Court construed the Constitution's silence on the subject of such unilateral presidential action as equivalent to "an express prohibition," agreeing with historical material that supported the conclusion that statutes may only be enacted "in accord with a single, finely wrought and exhaustively considered, procedure",[6] and that a bill must be approved or rejected by the president in its entirety. The Court reasoned that a line-item veto "would authorize the President to create a different law--one whose text was not voted on by either House of Congress or presented to the President for signature," and therefore violates the federal legislative procedure prescribed in Article I, Section 7.

Foreign affairs and war powers

The president has power as commander in chief to control the army. Article I grants congress the power to declare war and raise and support the army and the navy. However, Article II grants the president the power as commander-in-chief. The Supreme Court rarely addresses the issue of the president's use of troops in a war-like situation. Challenges to the president's use of troops in a foreign country are likely to be dismissed on political question grounds. The Supreme Court does not review political questions like who to go to war with or how to handle rebellions since that is the power of the Federal Executive and Legislative branches.

Appointment and removal of executive personnel

Article II, Section 2 grants the President the power, with the "advice and consent of the Senate," to appoint "ambassadors,... judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not otherwise provided for" in the Constitution. This includes members of the cabinet, top-level agency officials, Article III judges, US Attorneys, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, among many other positions. Under the modern interpretation of "advice and consent," a presidential appointment must be confirmed by majority vote in the Senate in order to take effect. Thus, in practice, the President holds the power to nominate, while the Senate holds the power to confirm.

Article II, Section 2 gives Congress the discretion to vest the appointment of "inferior officers" in either the President alone, the heads of departments, or the lower federal courts. Congress may not appropriate this role for itself, and Senate confirmation is not required for these positions.

The President has the authority to remove most high-level executive officers at will. Congress, however, may place limitations on the removal of certain executive appointees serving in positions where independence from the presidency is considered desirable, such as stipulating that removal may only be for cause.

Legislative and executive immunity

Legislative Immunity

Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives have absolute immunity for all statements made on the floor of Congress (Art. I Sec. 6).

Executive Immunity

As a general rule, sitting presidents enjoy immunity from civil suit for damages arising from actions taken while in office. This rule was significantly curtailed by the Supreme Court's decision in Clinton v. Jones, which held that sitting Presidents could in fact be sued for actions undertaken before taking office or for actions which are unrelated to the presidential office.

The Takings Clause

Generally speaking, the Fifth Amendment prevents the government from taking private property "for public use without just compensation." This prohibition on takings is applicable to the 50 states through the Fourteenth Amendment. A governmental taking includes not only physical appropriations of property but also government action that significantly reduces property or impairs its use.

A government "taking" must be distinguished from a government "regulation." With a taking, the government must fairly compensate the property owner when the property is taken for public use. If the government regulates property, it does not have to pay any compensation. A "taking" will be found if there is an actual appropriation or destruction of a person's property or a permanent physical invasion by the government or by authorization of law. The courts may also find a taking where a governmental regulation denies a landowner of all economic use unless principles of nuisance or property law that existed when the owner acquired the land make the use prohibitable.

Freedom of expression

Freedom of religion

Sources

  1. ^ Cornell University - Constitutional law
  2. ^ Introduction to the Study of Constitutional Law
  3. ^ Colby, Thomas B.; Smith, Peter J. (2009). "LIVING ORIGINALISM". Duke Law Journal. 59 (2): 239–307. JSTOR 20684805.
  4. ^ Andrzej Rapczynski, From Sovereignty to Process: The Jurisprudence of Federalism After Garcia, 1985 Sup. Ct. Rev. 380
  5. ^ Id. at 391
  6. ^ From INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983).

See also

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