Beeman-Guide to US Constitution:


Preamble
The preamble to the Constitution is a statement of aspiration -- a promise to Americans about the things that the new federal government intended to achieve for ''We the People of the United States.'' Some of the specific objects of government stated in the preamble -- the establishment of justice, insuring the peaceful operation of society, and providing for the common defense -- had long been understood to be the primary responsibilities of any government. The promises to promote the general welfare and to''secure the Blessings of Liberty'' are more open-ended, suggesting that the government's responsibilities extend not merely to providing essential services but also to benevolent oversight of the polity. Although the words of the preamble do not carry the force of law, they have had substantial rhetorical power over the life of the Constitution.     wordcount: 136


Article I Section 1
It is no accident that the first article of the Constitution deals with the structure and powers of the Congress, for virtually all of those who took part in the drafting of the Constitution considered the legislative branch to be the most important and, rightfully, the most powerful of the three branches of government.     wordcount: 54

There was broad agreement among the framers of the Constitution that the Congress should consist of a bicameral legislature. The House of Representatives, the ''lower house,'' was conceived to be the the ''great repository'' of the people of the nation at large, while the Senate, ''the upper house,'' was to be composed of only the most knowledgeable, well-educated, and virtuous, who could be relied upon to act as a moderating influence on the whims of the people at large.     wordcount: 81


Article I Section 2
The framers of the Constitution stipulated that members of the House of Representatives, the people's house, should serve relatively short terms of only two years, after which they would be required to seek reelection should they wish to continue to represent their state. The delegates could not agree on who should be allowed to vote for members of the House of Representatives, so they left the matter of voting requirements up to the state legislatures, which had up to that time set the qualifications for voters in each of the states. In 1787 all the states except New Jersey (which briefly permitted females to vote) limited the franchise to ''free men'' (a term usually interpreted to exclude free blacks) and most required that voters own at least some form of property. By the 1820s, most states had opened up the franchise to free white males regardless of whether they owned property. Subsequent amendments -- the Fifteenth, prohibiting the denial of the franchise on account of ''race, color, or previous condition of servitude''; the Nineteenth, enfranchising women, and the Twenty-sixth, a uniform voting age of eighteen -- served to create a common national standard for voting in national elections.     wordcount: 198

The requirement that members of the House of Representatives reside in the state in which they were chosen reflected the belief that representatives, if they are to serve the people who elect them, must have close and meaningful ties to the communities in which those people live.     wordcount: 47

The ''three-fifths of all other Persons'' referred to in this section is the result of the infamous ''three-fifths compromise,'' in which slaves, though not mentioned by name, were to be counted as three-fifths of a person in the apportionment 0f representation in the House of representatives as well as in the apportioning of the direct taxes to be paid by each state. The three-fifths ratio was a purely arbitrary one. It was a consequence of a fundamental contradiction that the Convention delegates were unable to resolve: slaves were human beings, but by the laws of most states they were also regarded as property. The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery rendered this portion of Article I, Section 2 null and void.     wordcount: 123

Although the original Constitution laid down a formula for representation based on population (and ''three fifths of all other Persons''), none of the delegates to the 1787 Convention really knew what the actual population of each of the states was. The initial apportionment of representation was merely a guess, but the Constitution did provide for a census of the population to be taken every ten years, a practice that began in 1790 and has continued to the present day.     wordcount: 79

The ''sole Power of Impeachment'' referred only to the first step -- the equivalent of an indictment or bringing to trial -- in the removal of a federal official. The grounds for impeachment set down in Article II, Section 4 -- ''Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors'' -- have been subject to widely varying interpretations.     wordcount: 57


Article I Section 3
The Senate, as the ''upper house,'' was conceived as a more deliberative body, whose members would be comprised of the most virtuous and knowledgeable citizens of the land. The framers of the Constitution believed that Senators should therefore serve longer terms in order that they might be better insulated from the immediate pressures of public opinion. One of the means by which Senators would be protected from popular whims was to provide for an indirect method for their election, with the legislatures of the individual states being given the power over such election. The provision for staggered terms of service was designed to prevent sudden, convulsive turnover in the membership of the Senate.     wordcount: 114

Consistent with the view that the members of the Senate were expected to possess superior knowledge and experience, the minimum age of a Senators was set at thirty, and the length of time after becoming a citizen nine years, as opposed to twenty-five years of age and seven years of citizenship for members of the House of Representatives.     wordcount: 58

The framers of the Constitution were aware of the necessity of providing for a vice president, who would assume the president's duties in the event of his death, disability, or removal, but they had a hard time thinking of any other functions the vice president might perform. The provision of the Article I, Section 2, designating the vice president as the presiding officer of the Senate, is the only item in the Constitution that speaks to the limited official duties of the vice president.     wordcount: 84

The Senate, as the more deliberative of the two legislative bodies, was given the responsibility of trying impeachment cases. Seeking to reinforce the principle of separation of powers, the Constitution designates the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court as the person who would preside over an impeachment trial of the president.     wordcount: 52


Article I Section 4
As was the case in the instance of voting requirements, the framers of the Constitution were content to leave the matter of when congressional elections should be held to the state governments.     wordcount: 32

The stipulation that Congress should assemble on the first Monday in December was altered by the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933. The practical effect of the original terms of Article I, Section 4, was to delay the seating of new members of Congress until March, creating a period of months during which a lame-duck Congress would be in session. Improvements in transportation and communications made it possible, and desirable, to move the stipulated time of the meeting of Congress to January 3.     wordcount: 84


Article I Section 5
The items in Article I, Section 5, giving each branch of the legislature control over its own proceedings, reflect a longstanding desire, dating back to the gradual evolution of the English parliament as a legislative body with powers independent of those of the king, to preserve the independence of the legislature from executive encroachment. This section of the Constitution also encourages openness in the publication and dissemination of the proceedings of Congress.     wordcount: 72


Article I Section 6
The provision for paying salaries to members of Congress provoked some disagreement among the delegates, as at least some members of the Continental Convention thought that public servants should be virtuous and wealthy ''gentlemen'' capable of serving in office without the need to seek compensation.     wordcount: 45

The provision providing immunity from arrest except in cases of treason, felony, or breach of the peace was another attempt to ensure the independence of members of the legislature, and the provision prohibiting service in other public offices while serving in Congress marked a rejection of practices in the English parliament, where members of Parliament also served as ministers in a king's cabinet; more generally it reflected a desire to reinforce the principle of separation of powers.     wordcount: 77


Article I Section 7
The power over the ''purse'' was considered the most important of the powers that any government could wield; indeed it was the British parliament's attempt to tax the colonies without their consent that precipitated the American Revolution. The decision to give the federal government the power to levy taxes -- a power denied to the government under the Articles ofConfederation -- may well have been the most important one made by the delegates to the Convention. It is noteworthy, however, that they gave the ''people's body'','' the House of Representatives, the power to originate revenue bills.     wordcount: 97


Article I Section 8
Many American think of their Constitution as a document that protects the liberties of American citizens by defining those things that the federal government cannot do. This is the central concern of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which today we call the Bill of Rights. But in fact, in many respects Article I, Section 8, constitutes the heart and soul of the U.S. Constitution. It specifically enumerates the powers that the federal government is permitted to exercise. The initial version of this article, as outlined in the Virginia Plan, gave an open-ended grant of power to the Congress, simply providing that Congress would have the power ''to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent,'' but when the Committee of Detail produced a comprehensive first draft of a constitution in early August 1787, that general grant of power was replaced by the more specific enumeration of powers that appears in Article I, Section 8. Among the most important powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8, are:     wordcount: 172

1. As previously mentioned, the power to levy taxes -- the ability of the government to provide for itself a permanent revenue with which to finance its operations -- was the single most important power given to the new government. The broad purposes for which that power was granted -- to ''provide for itself a permanent revenue with which to finance its operations -- was the single most important power given to the new federal government. The broad purposes for which that power was granted -- to ''provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States'' -- have been interpreted in widely different ways over the course of the nation's history, with the general trend leading toward an expansion of activity financed by the federal taxation power.     wordcount: 130

2. The ''commerce power'' has proven to be one of the most important and far-reaching provisions of the federal Constitution. Utilizing an ever-expanding definition of its power to regulate commerce ''among the several States,'' the federal government has broadened the definition of ''commerce to include not only the shipment of goods across state lines but also many other forms of activity: the building of interstate roads; the power to regulate the business activities of corporations; and the power to pass environmental legislation, consumer-protection laws, and occupational-safety regulations.     wordcount: 88

3. Establishing post offices and post roads may seem mundane enterprises, but this provision of the Constitution, in conjunction with an expansive view of Congress's role in promoting the ''general Welfare'' and regulating commerce, marked the beginnings of the creation of a national infrastructure that would tie the thirteen previously independent sand sovereign states into a singe nation.     wordcount: 58

4. The clause relating to the promotion of science and useful arts gives to Congress the power to enact patent and copyright laws.     wordcount: 23

5. Clauses ten through sixteen of Article I, Section 8, deal with the war powers of Congress. If the ''power over the purse'' has long been considered to be the most important of a government's powers, the power over the ''sword'' --- the ability not only to declare war but also to vote on appropriations for the financial support of war -- has run a close second. Congress's power to declare war overlaps with the power of the president, as commander in chief of the nation's armed forces, to direct the actual conduct of war. In one sense, this overlap is part of the Constitution's system of separation of powers, but in another it has become a significant source of constitutional controversy in recent years.mIn numerous cases since the mid-twentieth century -- in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf war, and most recently, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the president has proceeded with the prosecution of the war without a formal congressional declaration of war.     wordcount: 170

6. Congress' power over the appropriation of money gives it a substantial say over how -- or whether -- a war should be fought, but it has only rarely denied funds for the support of an army or navy once a war is under way.     wordcount: 45

7. The seventeenth clause, giving to Congress the power to ''exercise exclusive Legislation ... over such District ... as may ... become the Seat of the Government,'' is the basis on which Congress created the District of Columbia, which is regarded not as a state but as a federal territory and the nation's capital.     wordcount: 55

The final provision of Article I, Section 8, has proven to be one of the most important -- and controversial-- provisions of the Constitution. By giving Congress the power to make all laws ''necessary and proper'' for carrying into effect the previously enumerate powers, the framers of the Constitution opened the door to a significant expansion of federal power. Within just a few years of the adoption of the Constitution, some of the most important figures of the revolutionary era found themselves in bitter disagreement on the meaning of the phrase ''necessary and proper,'' with President Washington's secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, arguing for a broad construction of its meaning (for example, as ''needful,'' ''useful,'' or ''conductive to'') and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison arguing for a strict construction (for example, as ''absolutely necessary'). This line of constitutional difference between ''broad constructionists'' and ''strict constructionists'' was a bitter source of contention in the period leading up to the Civil War and continues in somewhat diminished form between the respective proponents of a more limited or more active federal government even today.     wordcount: 185


Article I Section 9
Article I, Section 9, outlines those actions that the federal government may not take.     wordcount: 14

The most controversial of these prohibitions is contained in the very first item. The Convention delegates from South Carolina and Georgia, whose slave economies were still expanding, insisted that no legislation interfering with the African slave trade were still expanding, insisted that no legislation interfering with the African slave trade be permitted until at least twenty years after the adoption of the Constitution. The prohibition of any legislation affecting ''the Migration or importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit'' was intended to ensure that protection. As in all instances in which the Constitution deals with the institution of slavery, neither the word ''slave'' nor ''slavery'' is explicitly mentioned inn the text of the document. In 1808 the U.S. Congress enacted legislation abolishing the international slave trade, but during that twenty-year interval some two hundred thousand slaves were imported from Africa into the United States.     wordcount: 153

Many of the most important prohibitions to federal government action laid down in Article I, Section 9, were designed to protect fundamental liberties handed down to Americans through English common law. Perhaps the most important of these was the privilege of habeas corpus, the right of a prisoner to challenge his imprisonment in a court of law. On at least a few occasions American presidents have suspended this privilege while either suppressing rebellion or protecting the public safety. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln held ''disloyal'' persons'' suspected of giving aid and comfort to the Confederate cause in prison without benefit of trial. More recently, President George W. Bush, citing provisions of the Patriot Act as well as implied executive powers, sanctioned the holding of several hundred ''enemy combatants'' in the ''war on terror''.     wordcount: 135

The prohibition against bills of attainder, the issuing of edicts aimed at punishing individuals or groups of individuals without benefit of trial, and the ban on ex post facto laws -- criminal laws aimed at punishing individuals for actions taken before the law itself was passed -- were also rooted in traditions of English common law. The prohibition of taxes on exports was a purely political bargain between northern and southern states, and was designed to protect the interests of the South, whose agricultural exports formed an important pert of its economy. The prohibition against direct taxes unless such taxes were levied precisely in proportion to the number of citizens in each of the states was another attempt to protect the institution of slavery from being taxed out of existence; this provision was subsequently changed by the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment, making possible the imposition of a federal income tax.     wordcount: 151

While it would be unthinkable today for our federal government to grant a title of nobility to any of its citizens, the provision in Article I, Section 9, prohibiting the granting of titles of nobility and placing additional restrictions on receiving a ''present Emolument, Office, or Title'' from a foreign state reflected a strong commitment of the framers of the Constitution that their government should be a ''republican'' one, and not one that reflected the aristocratic ways of Europe.     wordcount: 79


Article I Section 10
The provisions in Article I, Section 10, stipulate those thongs that the state governments are prohibited from doing. The most important of theses are:     wordcount: 24

1. Individual states may not enter into separate treaties with foreign nations.     wordcount: 12

2. The government of the states are bound by the same requirements as the federal government in the prohibition of bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, laws impairing obligations on contracts, and, granting titles of nobility.     wordcount: 37

3. State governments may not issue currency for the purpose of paying debts unless that currency is in gold and silver. This provision came in reaction to the laxness of some state governments that issued depreciated or, in some cases, worthless currency during the period of the Revolution. This provision marked the beginning -- but only the beginning-- of the creation of a single national currency.     wordcount: 66

4. During the period of the Confederation, many states, eager raise their own revenues. levied tariffs on goods entering their ports from other states. The new Constitution reserved the power of taxing imports to the federal government alone, preventing states from enacting their own tariffs.     wordcount: 45

5. Although the individual states were permitted to maintain their own militias for the maintenance of order within their boundaries, the Constitution prohibits states from maintaining either a standing army or a navy in time of peace; it also prohibits states from entering agreements with other states or foreign powers for military purposes.     wordcount: 53


Article II Section 1
The opening words of Article II, Section 1, are both remarkably simple and maddeningly vague: ''The executive Power shall be vested on a President of the United States of America''.'' While other sections of Article II provide some specificity on the nature and extent of presidential power, for the most part the language of Article II relating to executive power is far less specific than that of Article I defining congressional power.     wordcount: 72

Opinions about the length of the president's term varied widely, with proposals ranging from a minimum of two years to a term pf ''during good behavior'' -- or effectively, for life. The delegates also disagreed about whether the president should be eligible for reelection. The decision on a four-year term seemed to satisfy most delegates and, by avoiding mentioning anything about the president's eligibility for reelection, the framers left the question of how any terms a president should serve up to the voters. George Washington's decision to serve only two terms in office set a precedent that lasted until the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won election to the presidency four times, serving from 1933 until his death in 1945. In 1951 Congress passed, and the states ratified, the Twenty-second Amendment, limiting presidents to two terms.     wordcount: 137

The next part of Article II, Section 1 reflects the torment the Convention delegates experienced as they wrestled with the question of how to give the president sufficient power without giving him excessive power, as well as how to free him from excessive dependence on the legislature while at the same time assuring that he did not become, in their terms, an ''elective monarch.'' While one would think that the best way to do this would be to have the president elected by and answerable to the people of the nation at large, the vast majority of delegates feared that the American people were simply too provincial -- too ignorant of the merits of possible presidential candidates across a land as vast as that of the thirteen states of which America was then comprised -- to make a wise choice. For that reason, for most of the Convention the delegates inclined toward election of the president by Congress, the House of Representatives. But this method ran the risk of violating the principles of separation of powers by making the president unduly dependent upon the Congress for his election.For n=much of the summer of 1787, the delegates argued unproductively about the various alternatives for electing the president, and finally, in the tortured language of Article II, section 1, they called for the creation of an electoral college: a groiup of independent electors, selected in each of the states ''in such a Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,'' who would then cast their ballots for a president and vice president.`     wordcount: 260

Although initially designed The newly created political party system functioned in away that caused slates of presidential electors to be pledged in advance to vote for particular candidates, with the result being that American voters,whose number were expanding as the number of citizens eligible to vote expanded, were now casting their vote, not on the basis of the identity of the individual electors, but on the basis of the identity of the of the individual electors, bit on the merits of the candidates themselves. The invention of political -- a development occurring wholly outside America's constitutional system -- fundamentally changed the way the Constitution operated, transforming it from a ''republican'' but elitist political system into a truly democratic one.     wordcount: 120

Americans have grumbled about the imperfections of the electoral college system from the day when it was first debated in the Constitutional Convention up to the present, but for the most part, it has managed to produce victors in the presidential contests whose legitimacy as duly elected chief executives has no been challenged. There have been exceptions: the election of John Quincy Adams, decided by the House of Representatives in 1824; the election of a ''minority'' Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, in 1860, which led to the secession of the Southern states; the disputed 1876 presidential election between Samual Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, in the final days of Reconstruction; and the contested election of George W. Bush in 2000, ultimately decided by the Supreme Court. Each of these cases has provoked criticism of the electoral college system, but up to this point neither Congress nor the American people have moved to the obvious alternative: direct popular election of the president.     wordcount: 160

The decision to require that a president be a ''natural born Citizen'' of the United Stats was made in the Convention with little discussion and probably with little thought. Indeed, eight of the delegates to the Convention had themselves been born outside British North America (all were born in the British Isles and would in any case have been eligible to serve as president because they were citizens of the United States at ht time of the adoption of the Constitution). In an age in which America's economy, culture, and politics are increasingly shaped by recent immigrants, this particular constitutional provision seems a good candidate for amendment.     wordcount: 107

This provision defines the president's most important duty: to succeed the president in case of his death, disability, or removal from office. The framers left the line of succession in the event of the vice president's death, disability, resignation, or removal up to Congress. The Twenty-fifth Amendment, adopted in 1967, provided a means by which a president could select, with the confirmation of a majority of members of Congress, another vice president.     wordcount: 72

Although Congress is given responsibility for setting the president salary, it may not increase or decrease his salary during his term of service, a provision designed to render the president independent of the Congress's will.     wordcount: 35

The presidential oath is a remarkably simple one, wholly appropriate to a republican society. In taking the oath of office for the first time on April 30, 1789, George Washington added the words ''So help me, God'' to his oath, a tradition that has been continued by nearly every subsequent president.     wordcount: 51


Article II Section 2
Article II, Section 2 is principally concerned with outlining the powers of the president, but given the enormous power of the modern presidency, it seems remarkably short and vague in its prescriptions. Certainly, the most important -- and controversial -- of those powers has developed from the president's role as commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States and of the militias of the several states. That role, which has given the president' enormous power to make war,'' has sometimes come in conflict with the power of Congress to ''declare war'' as well as with Congress's power to control the financial appropriations necessary to make fighting a war possible.     wordcount: 114

By the terms of Article II, section 2, the president has the primary role of entering into treaties with other nations, although it reserves to the Senate the right to approve any treaty before it assumes the force of law.     wordcount: 40

The president has the power, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint ambassadors, ministers, justices of the Supreme Court, and ''all other Officers of the United States.'' In recent decades, as the Supreme Court has become a more powerful and assertive branch of the federal government, members of the Senate have responded by asserting more vigorously their right to advise and consent with respect to the appointment of justices of the Court.     wordcount: 75

The president's use of the power to appoint ''all other Officers of the United States'' has increased in direct proportion to the growing power of the federal government and of the executive branch in particular. Although the Founding Fathers no doubt assumed that the president would appoint members of a presidential ''cabinet,'' they would perhaps have been surprised at the growth in the size and scope of the bureaucracy serving each of the cabinet departments. The president's cabinet has expanded from four members in President Washington's day (the secretaries of treasury, war, and state and the attorney general) to fifteen (not including the vice president) today.     wordcount: 107


Article II Section 3
Presidents Washington and Adams addressed the Congress directly on the ''State of the Union,'' but from 1801 to 1909 the president merely sent the Congress written messages. Beginningmin 1913, and continuing to the present day, the formal State of the Union address to Congress, given at the beginning of each year, has become an important national ritual. Some presidents, including President Barack Obama, have convened both houses of Congress on other ''extraordinary Occasions,'' to address them on subjects that they have considered important.     wordcount: 85


Article II Section 4
This is another one of the provisions of Article II is remarkably simple and maddeningly vague. The framers of the Constitution all agreed that a president should be removed from office if he committed treason, bribery, or other ''high Crimes,' but most of them also believed that the president might be removed if he were found culpable of ''malfeasance in office'' (a term used in one of the earlier drafts of the Constitution). On the other hand, most of the framers agreed that it would be improper for Congress to remove a president simply because a majority of members of Congress might disagree with him, and since ''malfeasance'' was a term with a meaning that might vary in the eye of the beholder, they substituted the term ''Misdemeanors'' for ''malfeasance.'' It was a term that left no one wholly satisfied, and it has caused considerable confusion in those rare cases (during the presidencies of Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and William Jefferson Clinton) in which impeachment proceedings against a president have been initiated.     wordcount: 173


Article III Section 1
Just as the framers of the Constitution considered the Congress to be the most vital branch of the new government and therefore dealt with that branch in the very first article of the Constitution, so too was the placement of the judicial branch in Article III of the Constitution a reflection of their view of the relative importance of that branch. The brevity and vagueness of the language in Article III are similarly a reflection of their view of the relative importance of that branch as well as of their uncertainty about its function in the new federal union.     wordcount: 99

Article III, Section 1, stipulates that there would be one ''supreme'' court in the nation but is vague about the number and extent of the ''inferior'' courts. The provisionnbthat all federal judges should hold their offices during ''good Behavior'' was intended to protect the independence of the judiciary and reinforce the separation of powers among the three branches of the new government.     wordcount: 62


Article III Section 2
Article III, Section 2, defines the jurisdiction and mode of procedure of the federal courts. The key phrase is ''to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution.'' In other words, the jurisdiction of the federal courts extends to those areas in which the United States government itself has jurisdiction. That jurisdiction, vaguely defined in 1787, has steadily increased over more than two centuries in which the Constitution has been in operation.     wordcount: 74

Although Article III, Section 2, makes no mention of a power of judicial review (the power of the Supreme Court or any other federal court to pass judgment on whether a federal or state law violates the terms of the Constitution, many, if not most, of the delegates to the Convention probably assumed that the federal courts would exercise at least some limited form of that power in 1803, in the case of Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court, in an opinion written by its Chief Justice, John Marshall, enunciated a limited power of judicial review.     wordcount: 96


Article III Section 3
Article III, Section 3, is the only instance in which the U.S. Constitution defines a specific crime, that of treason. Treason is defined as either levying war against the United States or giving ''aid and Comfort'' to the enemies of the United States. The ''Aid and Comfort'' clause expands the definition of treason beyond physical acts of violence -- e.g., yo the passing on of state secrets to another nation -- but the Constitution also lays down specific legal procedures by which people accused of treason might be convicted of such an act. The Constitution further limits the punishment of treason to the person actually committing the act, not to family members or close associates.     wordcount: 115

In 1807, in the treason trial of Aaron Burr, for his role in an alleged plan to lead parts of the Louisiana territory in a secessionist movement from the United States, Chief Justice John Marshall laid down further limitations on the definition of treason, establishing the doctrine of ''constructive treason,'' meaning that the mere planning of an act that might be considered treasonous was not sufficient grounds for conviction; in order to be convicted of treason one actually had to commit, or at least be in the process of committing, the act. Moreover, the act of simply speaking, however stridently, in a manner that some might believe to be giving aid and comfort to the enemy was given further protection by the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment     wordcount: 130


Article IV Section 1
The first section of Article IV stipulates that he laws of one state must be given ''full Faith and Credit'' (i.e., be recognized as legitimate) in another state. This provision was an important step in creating a uniform standard of law and of rights in the nation. For example, if the state of Massachusetts recognizes the marriage of a gay couple as legally valid, then other states, even if they do not have laws permitting the marriage of a gay couple, must recognize the marriage as valid.     wordcount: 87


Article IV Section 2
The first provision of Article IV, Section 2, is a cornerstone of a common standard for equal protection under the law for all American citizens. It gives to citizens of every state all the legal protections enjoyed by citizens of other states if they should be residing in or traveling through one of those other states. This means, for example, that New Jersey cannot give citizens of that state one set of rights while at the same time denying a citizen of New York or working in New Jersey any of those same rights. Therefore New Jersey cannot impose higher taxes on New Yorkers working in New Jersey than it imposes on its own residents.     wordcount: 115

The other side of the ''privileges and immunity'' clause is that which requires states to respect the laws of other states aimed at punishing persons charged with ''Treason, Felony, or other Crime'' by extradicting (delivering up) such persons to the state having jurisdiction over the crime.     wordcount: 46

The final part of Article IV, Section2, may well be the most reprehensible provision in the original U.S. Constitution. It requires that the governments and citizens of every state in the union deliver up all persons ''held in Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another.'' Although nowhere mentioned, those persons ''held to Service or Labour'' were slaves, and by requiring that citizens and states where slavery was not permitted cooperate with citizens and governments in slave owning states in the return of their slaves, it made all Americans actively complicit in protecting the institution of slavery. This provision was rendered null and void by the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.     wordcount: 119


Article IV Section 3
In 1787 the framers of the Constitution were mindful that, in addition to the thirteen original states, America consisted of a vast territory between the borders of those states and the Mississippi River. Article IV, Section 3, grants to Congress the authority to admit new states into the union on an equal basis with existing states. However, individual states are not permitted either to divide themselves into separate states (for example, California, by the terms of the Constitution, is not permitted to divide itself into two states; e.g., Northern California and Southern Califonia, jor is it possible for two or more states (for example, Rhode Island and Connecticut) to combine their territories into a single state without the consent both of the legislatures of the states involved and of Congress.     wordcount: 130

The second part of Article IV, Section 3, gives gives to Congress considerable leeway as to what it might do in territories that have not achieved the status of a state within the federal union. Under this provision, Congress was able to grant independence to the Philippines, which was once a territory of the United States, and to extend certain rights (for example, the right of U.S. citizenship, although not the right to vote in presidentisl elections) to territories like Puerto Rico. Thi congressional jurisdiction also extends to the District of Columbia, which, though its citizens enjoy most of the rights of citizens of the fifty American states, is not at present fully represented in Congress.     wordcount: 116


Article IV Section 4
If there is a single idea expressed in Section 4 of Article IV on which all the framers of the Constitution agreed, it was that America should have a republican form of government, both in the polities of the individual states and in the new federal structure that they were creating. However, there were probably as many variations in the meaning of the word ''republican'' as there were delegates, ranging from those who wanted a democratic government directly responsive to the people to those who wishd for a more elitist government, responsible to -- but somewhat removed from -- the people at large. The two core elements of republicanism on which all delegates could agree were that the government should be, either directly or indirectly, ''representative'' in character and that its officeholders should not be base their claims to public office on hereditary privilege.     wordcount: 144

The second item in this section of Article IV was a direct response to one of the events that precipitated the calling of a Constitutional Convention: an armed uprising of farmers in western Massachusetts, known as Shays' Rebellion. The Constitution promises states protection against both internal uprisings and invasions from abroad but at the same time assures the states that the government will not interfere in their defense unless asked to do so by officials in the states themselves.     wordcount: 79


Article V
The Constitutional Convention of 1787 was called together to amend the Articles of Confederation, the existing frame of government that sought to create a union among the thirteen independent and sovereign states. By the terms of the Articles of Confederation, unanimous approval of all the states legislatures was required to amend any major features of that frame of government. That provision proved to be fatally flawed, for it soon became apparent that it was impossible to attain unanimity on any matter of consequence. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention having already gone forward not merely with amendments to the Articles of Confederation but rather with a decision to scrap the Articles altogether and create a vastly strengthened central government, felt no compunction about changing the formula for amendment, providing two different routes by which the new Constitution could be amended. Amendments can be proposed either by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or when two-thirds of the legislatures of the states agree on calling a national convention for the purpose of proposing amendments. Amendments proposed by either method must, in order to become part of the Constitution, receive the approval of three-quarters of the state legislatures or be approved by specially called conventions in at least three-quarters of the states. Most of the amendments to the Constitution have been first approved by Congress and then adopted by three-quarters of the state legislatures, although the Twenty-first Amendment, repealing prohibition, was adopted by conventions in three-quarters of the states.     wordcount: 249

The amendment process is an arduous one, and for that reason, relatively few amendments have been passed during the more than two hundred years since the Constitution was adopted, making it one of the most concise written constitutions in the world. Ten of the amendments --those that we consider to be part of the Bill of Rights-- were proposed by the First Congress of the United States and quickly adopted by the necessary number of states within a few years after the new government commenced operation. During the whole of the nineteenth century, only five amendments were adopted, three of them coming in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and dealing with the rights of newly freed slaves. Twelve amendments were passed in the twentieth century. Among the most important were those authorizing a federal income tax, giving women a constitutional right to vote, providing for direct election of United States Senators, and guaranteeing all American citizens eighteen ears or older the right to vote.     wordcount: 166

Article V also mentions three specific instances in which the Constitution is not subject to amendment: the provision prohibiting legislation affecting the international slave trade until 1808, the prohibition against direct taxation unless apportioned according to population, and the provision guaranteeing each state equal representation in the United States Senate.     wordcount: 50


Article VI
At the time the Constitution was created, the Continental government, the individual governments of the states, and many private citizens had all accumulated substantial debt obligations. The first item in Article VI was designated to ensure the sanctity of those debt obligations.     wordcount: 42

Article VI contains the so-called federal supremacy clause, the assertion that in cases of conflict between a state law and a federal law, the federal law takes precedence. Over the course of the nation's history, there have been hundreds of cases where the overlapping jurisdictions of the states and the federal government (for example, in matters relating to the regulation of commerce, industry, or environmental policy) have led to lawsuits. In general, although not uniformly, the federal supremacy clause has worked to incline courts to side with the federal government.     wordcount: 90

The final item in Article VI requires officials in both the state and federal governments to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This item is also the only place in the body of the Constitution where religion is explicitly mentioned. It is notable that this sole mention of religion reinforces the principle of separation of church and state, decreeing that there shall be no religious test for holding public office.     wordcount: 71


Article VII
Having exceeded their instructions from the Continental Congress by scrapping the Articles of Confederation and drafting a wholly new frame of government, the framers of the Constitution also ignored the provision in the Articles of Confederation requiring unanimous approval of the state legislatures in order to amend that frame of government. The decision to allow the Constitution to go into operation after the approval of only nine of the thirteen states made it much easier to secure ratification of the document. Moreover, the device of submitting the document for consideration by specifically called state conventions rather than by state legislatures avoided some of the natural tendencies of state legislators to protect their powers and interests. Most important though, the use of conventions, elected directly by the people of the states and called together solely for the purpose of considering the new plan of union, signified thst the proposed new government was intended to be a government founded on ''WE THE people of the United States,' rather than merely on ''we the states'.     wordcount: 173


Signers
There were forty-one delegates present in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House on September 17, 1787. Thirty-eight of the delegates in the room signed the completed Constitution, with George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refusing to add their assent. A forty-second delegate, John Dickinson of Delaware, had been suffering from debilitating headaches and went home a few days earlier, but he asked his Delaware colleague george Read to sign the document for him, bringing the total number of signatories to thirty-nine.     wordcount: 89


Amendment I
The First Amendment is remarkably brief considering the breadth of protection that it has provided. The section of the amendment prohibiting Congress from making any law ''respecting an establishment of religion'' is a cornerstone of the American notion of separation of church and state,and the guarantee of ''free exercise'' of religion has proven a powerful means by which people have been allowed to express their religious beliefs without fear of government of reprisal. Similarly, the guarantees of freedom of speech, of the press, and of the ''right of the people peaceably to assemble,'' as well as the right to petition their government are at the heart of the American constitutional definition of liberty.     wordcount: 115

Those freedoms have, however, been subject to some restriction. Until the early twentieth century, the First Amendment applied only to the actions of the federal government; state government; state governments were free to pass their own laws contravening some of the provisions of the First Amendment. For example, the state government Massachusetts continued to accord the Congregational Church special privileges and did not move to explicitly separate church and state until 1833. Moreover, throughout the nineteenth century, and sometimes into the twentieth, state governments haven enacted laws placing restrictions on speech, freedom of the press, and on certain forms of public assembly. It was only in the twentieth century, through application of the ''incorporation doctrine,'' the the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee that states must not ''abridge the privileges of immunities of citizens of the United states,'' nor deny citizens ''equal protection of the laws,'' began to obligate state governments to guarantee their residents the same freedoms as those articulated in the First Amendment.     wordcount: 165

The precise extent of the guarantees of the First Amendment continues to be a subject of contention. Olive Wendell Holmes, in a Supreme Court opinion in Schenck v. United States (1919), made the commonsense argument that the guarantees of free speech do not extend to the right to shout ''fire in a theatre and causing a panic'' when no such danger actually exists. Governments have often asserted the right to regulate public assemblies and protests in order to ensure public safety.     wordcount: 81

Similarly, the ''wall of separation'' between church and state is not impenetrable. The United States Congress continues to employ a chaplain, and the word of God is frequently invoked at many official government gatherings. The federal courts are frequently presented. with cases in which litigants claim that public displays of religious belief (e.g., the displaying of a Nativity scene in a public square at Christmastime) violate the principle of separation of church and state. Thus far there is no clear resolution of where the boundary between a religious and a civic display lies.     wordcount: 93


Amendment II
The Second Amendment contains two parts: a preface, which states that a ''well regulated Militia'' (meaning a citizens' army authorized by the state) is a necessary and desirable thing, and the operative section of the amendment, which asserts the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Constitutional scholars have argued vociferously about whether the comma separating those two parts signifies that the right to keep and bear arms without state interference is confined to the use of such arms in conjunction with one's duties as a part of a government-sanctioned militia or army, or whether there is an individual right to keep and bear arms under any circumstances. The most recent ruling of the Supreme Court (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008) suggests that the Second Amendment does guarantee an individual, as well as collective, right to bear arms, but the Court has also conceded that there are some instances (e.g., regulating the sale of assault weapons) in which local, stat, and federal governments do have the right to regulate the sale and use of arms. Like many aspects of the Constitution, the meaning of the Second Amendment is subject to varying interpretations.     wordcount: 195


Amendment III
This amendment, which has lost much of its immediacy over the course of time, was considered of pressing importance by the members of the First Congress, who drafted if because attempts to force Americans to provide lodgings for British troops (whom they considered to be hostile occupiers of their land) during the years leading to the revolution were an important cause of that revolution. The amendment does, ''in a manner to be prescribed by law,'' allow the government to use private homes to provide lodging for its own soldiers in a time of war. More generally, the Third Amendment has -- along with the Fourth, fifth, and Ninth Amendments -- been interpreted to imply another right not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution: the right of privacy.     wordcount: 127


Amendment IV
The guarantees against ''unreasonable searches and seizures'' of persons, houses, and property, and the insistence that any such searches be based on ''probable cause'' and accompanied by search warrants, were another product of Americans' experience during the Revolution, when British customs officers and soldiers carried out blanket searches and seizures without proper warrants. In recent years, through the use of incorporation doctrine, the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted to mean that police officers at all levels of government must demonstrate probable cause before stopping and searching anyone whom they might suspect of a crime. The precise definition of ''probable cause'' has been much debated, and in many cases police officers are forced to make difficult judgments about whether they should detain an individual and search his or her possessions.     wordcount: 129

In an age in which advances in technology have offered the government new ways to gather evidence of a possible crime -- e.g., wiretapping and other means of sophisticated electronic surveillance -- the federal courts have been presented with new dilemmas about how to interpret the provisions of the Fourth Amendment. Enactment of the Patriot Act in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 has significantly expanded the government's ability to carry out such surveillance.     wordcount: 76


Amendment V
Reflecting long-standings of English common law, as well as the American perception that the British had violated those traditions in the years leading up to the American Revolution, the Fifth Amendment requires that people charged with capital crimes (i.e., a serious crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the federal courts) be first presented before a grand jury -- a group of ordinary citizens drawn from the population. Those serving in the military are not afforded that protection; they are to be tried in military courts, which set their own rules of judicial procedure.     wordcount: 94

Although indictment by a grand jury is standard practice in important civil and criminal proceedings at the federal level, many states have not used this mechanism for securing indictments of accused criminals, believing that grand juries are unnecessarily costly and time-consuming. Although many of the provisions of the Bill of rights have been applied to the actions of state governments through the incorporation doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has not asserted that states are bound to conform to this particular provision of the Fifth Amendment.     wordcount: 88

The provision of the Fifth Amendment preventing double jeopardy stipulates that individuals cannot be tried for the same crime more than once. If a defendant is acquitted of a crime, the government does not have the right to prosecute that individual again, and if a defendant is convinced, the government may not impose multiple punishments for the same crime.     wordcount: 59

The phrase ''taking the Fifth'' refers to the provision of the Fifth Amendment ensuring the right against self-incrimination :the right to refuse to answer questions in court that might lead either to indictment or punishment for an alleged crime. Finally, the Fifth Amendment contains a very open-ended guarantee, echoing the words of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, that no person can be deprived of the fundamental rights of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.     wordcount: 79

The concern for protection of property is further emphasized in the prohibition of the taking of private property for public use ''without just compensation.'' In fact, federal and state governments have often taken control of private property (for example, for the purpose of building a highway or some other necessary public work) by using the doctrine of ''eminent domain.'' In those cases, the owners are compensated for the value of their property, although in many cases not without significant litigation.     wordcount: 80


Amendment VI
The Sixth Amendment is appropriately considered the centerpiece of the American criminal justice system. In addition to guaranteeing all criminal defendants a trial by jury, it provides an outline of the basic procedures to be followed in such trials. The trial shall be a speedy one, which is to say that accused criminals cannot be imprisoned for lengthy periods of time before receiving a trial. The trial must be public. The framers of the Sixth Amendment specifically rejected the English Star Chamber proceedings; that is, proceedings held in private, away from scrutiny by the public. The juries in criminal trials should in normal instances, be drawn from ordinary citizens who are resident in the state and region where the crime was committed (although in unusual cases, if the crime is of such a sensationl nature that t might prove impossible to impanel an impartial jury, the trial might be held in a jurisdiction other than the one in which the crime was committed).     wordcount: 163

The Sixth Amendment also guarantees to the accused the right to be confronted with the nture of the charges brought against hih; the right to confront, either directly or through an attorney, the witnesses against him; and the right to present witnesses in his defense. Finally, criminal defendants are entitled to ''Assistance of Counsel''; that is, a competent attorney to assist them in their defense. These basic guarantees have been elaborated in countless court cases in the more than two hundred years since the amendment was ratified and, through the incorporation doctrine, have become the standard procedure for criminal trials inn states and other localities as well as in federal courts.     wordcount: 111


Amendment VII
The Seventh Amendment provides guarantees similar to those of the Sixth with respect to civil suits, although it does limit the right of trial by jury to suits in which there are substantial sums of money involved. The terms and extent of the application of this amendment have been worked out through myriad court cases involving plaintiffs (the person bringing the suit) and defendants (the person being sued). For example, while the standard for conviction in a criminal trial is a jury's unanimous verdict that the accused criminal is guilty ''beyond a reasonable doubt,'' a jury in a civil case may award damages to a plaintiff if a majority of jurors find a ''preponderance of evidence'' on his or her behalf. The incorporation doctrine has not been applied to this amendment and, for the present, civil suits tried in state and local courts may follow different procedures from those outlined in the Seventh Amendment.     wordcount: 155


Amendment VIII
The prohibition against excessive bail (a sum of money put up to gain release from prison while awaiting a trial and returned if and when the accused appears for trial) is a reflection of the belief that an accused criminal is ''presumed innocent until found guilty.'' The definition of ''excessive bail'' is a subjective one, but the intent of the amendment is to demand a sum of money sufficient to guarantee that the accused does show up for the trial, but not so high as to make it impossible for the accused to gain release.     wordcount: 95

The prohibition of excessive fines'' is intended to assure that ''the punishment fits the crime.'' It is closely connected in its rationale with the final section of the amendment, the guarantee against ''cruel and unusual punishments.'' again drawing on English common law traditions, Americans were seeking to move away from ancient practices of gruesome punishments for relatively minor offenses. The definition of ''cruel and unusual punishments'' has often proven a point of contention. Currently, opponents of the death penalty argue that that punishment qualifies as cruel and unusual. Except for a period during the 1970s, the Supreme Court has not agreed, and both state governments and the federal government are free to permit executions if they desire (at present, thirty-five of the fifty states have laws permitting death penalties in some cases -- usually, but not exclusively, murder cases).     wordcount: 139


Amendment IX
One of the reasons given for the framers' omission of a Bill of Rights from the original Constitution was their fear that if they unintentionally failed to mention some fundamental rights in such a listing, those rights might go unprotected. That concern caused many of the delegates to fear that any debate over a bill of rights might drag on for weeks or months, as they sought to cover every conceivable right. The Ninth Amendment makes it clear that the list of rights mentioned in the Constitution and its amendments do not constitute all the possible rights to which the people are entitled. Over the years, the courts have defined ''unenumerated'' rights, such as the right to vote; the right to move about freely; and, perhaps most controversially, the right to privacy, including the right of a woman to have some control over her health and reproductive decisions.     wordcount: 148


Amendment X
When the Constitution was presented for ratification to the people of the thirteen independent states, many were surprised-- and even alarmed -- by the extent to which powers previously exercised by the states (for example , taxation and controlover commerce) were now to be exercised by the federal government. In the words of Virginia statesman Patrick Henry, the new government was not really ''federal'' in character but rather a ''cosolidated government,''one which would render the identity and powers of te states meaningless. The TenthAmendment reserves all powers not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitutiton (most of which are contained in Article I, Section 8, in the enumeration of the powers of Congress) to the state governments; it was intended to allay feats about thefederal governmentpossessingexcessive power.     wordcount: 129

In one sense, the Tenth Amendment is one of the most important features of the Constitution, for it articulates the principle that the federal government is one of specifically delegated powers, and that it should only exercise those powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. But in fact, the Tenth Amendment, because of its generality, has not proven to be much of an impediment to the steady expansion of federal power since the time the Constitution was adopted, although opponents of ''big government'' have in recent years invoked the Tenth Amendment in their arguments with greater frequency.     wordcount: 96

In 1793 the Supreme Court ruled that it had a right to hear a suit brought by two citizens of South Carolina against the state of Georgia. Many members of Congress and the state legislatures vigorously criticized the court's ruling. claiming that the federal courts had no business interfering with the ''sovereign immunity'' of state courts. The Eleventh Amendment reserved to the individual states the right to hear cases brought against them either by citizens of another state or another country. As is the case with many of the amendments to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has ruled that there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, since 1824 the Supreme Court has held that state government officials are not immune from being sued in a federal court if they act in violation of a right guarantee by the U.S. Constitution.     wordcount: 142


Amendment XII
When the framers of the Constitution devised the complicated process by which presidential electors would select the nation's president and vice president, they assumed that those electors would run for their offices as individuals, and that the voters would select them on the basis of their individual merits. In that original notion of the way the electoral system would work, it was expected that the electors would each cast two ballots, with no distinction between a presidential and vice-presidential ballot, and that the person receiving the greatest number of votes would be elected president and the person receiving the next largest number of votes vice president.     wordcount: 106

The framers of the Constitution did not anticipate the emergence of an organized political party system in which two extra-constitutional political parties, the Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans, would organize electors (or, in some states, slates of electors_ pledged in advance to vote for presidential and vice president candidates as part of a party ''ticket''. In the election of 1800, the party ticket of Thomas Jefferson the person whom the Republicans intended as their presidential candidate) and Aaron Burr (the person whom the Republicans intended as their vice-presidential candidate) received a majority of electoral votes. In fact, though, party discipline was so great that the electors cast their votes on their two ballots in such a way that Jefferson and Burr had an equal number of votes, with no constitutional mechanism for deciding which of the candidates was intended to be the presidential candidate and which the vice-presidential candidate. As a consequence, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives, where, after. a great deal of intrigue, Jefferson was selected as president and Burr the vice president.     wordcount: 177

The adoption of the Twentieth Amendment was a necessary adjustment to the way in which the American party system had transformed America's presidential elections. Although the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment are as mind-numbingly complicated as the original provisions of Article II, Section 1, the essential feature of the amendment was that henceforth electors would vote separately for the president and vice president. And while the original language in Article II, Section 1, stipulated that the House of representatives would choose among the five leading candidates should no one receive a majority of electoral votes, the new provision on the Twelfth Amendment narrowed the choice to the top three candidates.     wordcount: 110


Amendment XIII
The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress in 1861, as the Southern states were seceding from the union, but not ratified until 1865, after the South had accepted defeat in the Civil War. It marked the first important step in bringing American constitutional practice into harmony with American libertarian values. Although there had been previous, private attempts to eliminate slavery, usually accompanied by promises of compensation for the value of the ''property'' lost as a consequence of the emancipation of slaves, the Thirteenth Amendment unequivocally abolished slavery, providing for the the immediate emancipation of all slaves in the United states, without compensation to their owners. It also gave to Congress the power to enforce the emancipation of slaves, a power that it exercis3d the the Civil Rights act of 1866.     wordcount: 130


Amendment XIV, Section 1
Perhaps the most significant and far-reaching amendments to the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment is viewed by many scholars and jurists as the provision of the Constitution that has brought the principles enunciated in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence into the realm of constitutional law. The words of the preamble of the Declaration -- ''that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'' -- are purely exhoratory; they were important rhetorical ly in defining American purposes as they declared to the colonies' independence from Great Britain, but they do not have the force of law. At the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment is the stipulation that all Americans born or naturalized in the United States, including the newly freed slaves, are citizens of the United States, and that no state may make or enforce any law that shall infringe on the rights of American citizens, including those unalienable rights of ''life, liberty or property'' without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment's promise that all persons are guaranteed.] ''equal protection of the laws'' would prove an important mechanism by which the Supreme Court, in a series of rulings in the twentieth century, would articulate a uniform standard by which many of the rights spelled out in the Bill of rights would be guaranteed to all citizens of the states.     wordcount: 239


Amendment XIV, Section 2
Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment had a more specific intent. It effectively repealed the three-fifths compromise by which slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person in the apportionment of representation and taxation, and stipulates that any state that attempts to deny the right to vote to any male United States citizen over the age of twenty-one will have its representation in Congress and the electoral college reduced proportionately to the number of citizens so disenfranchised. This part of section 3 was clearly intended by the members of Congress who drafted it as a means of protecting the newly freed slaves' right to vote. It is notable that the only exception to this protection of the right to vote is in the case of individuals who have participated ''in rebellion, or other crime.'' This exception not only applied to convicted criminals (who are still denied the right to vote in most states) but also to large numbers of Americans who had participated in the Southern ''rebellion'' during the Civil War.     wordcount: 171


Amendment XIV, Section 3
Section 3 of the amendment explicitly excluded former Southern rebels from serving in any federal or state office until Congress, by a two-thirds vote, removed that prohibition. This constitutional device effectively turned over control of the ''reconstruction'' of the former secessionist states to individuals who had remained loyal to the union during the Civil War.     wordcount: 55


Amendment XIV, Section 4
Section 4 of the amendment absolved the federal government of any responsibility for the debts incurred by the Southern states or by the Confederacy during the Civil War.     wordcount: 28


Amendment XIV, Section 5
Finally, Section 5 granted to Congress broad authority to proceed with legislation thst would enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth-Amendment. In the immediate aftermath of the adoption of the amendment, Congress passed seven statutes aimed at guaranteeing civil rights to freed slaves as well as imposing conditions for readmission to the union on the states that had seeded from it. Over the course of the next two decades, many of the provisions of those statutes would be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which adopted an increasingly narrow interpretation of the rights granted by the Fourteenth Amendment.     wordcount: 97


Amendment XV
While the Fourteenth Amendment punished states that deprived newly freed slaves of the right to vote by reducing their representation in the House of Representatives, the fifteenth Amendment categorically prohibits the denial of the right to vote on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Notably, the amendment does not mention gender, which, to the dismay of advocates of women's suffrage, meant that although newly freed male slaves were guaranteed a right to vote, women of all races were denied that right. In spite of the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, the states of the former Confederacy managed to find ways to continue to drastically curtail the right of African Americans to vote, through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other discriminatory devices. It was not until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1995 that African Americans have had equal access to the polling place.     wordcount: 151


Amendment XVI
Although the original version of the Constitution gave Congress the power to vevy direct taxes, such taxation was only to be levied on the states themselves, in direct proportion to their population. Although Congress during the Civil War was able to levy a direct tax on individuals as part of a wartime measure, the Supreme Court, in an 1895 ruling Pollock v. Farmers Loan and trust Co.), ruled that taxing the property of individuals was unconstitutional. The Sixteenth Amendment effectively reversed that ruling. It is silent on what the rate of taxation might be (for example, it does not speak to whether all individuals should be taxed at an equal rate or whether the rate of taxation should be progressively higher on higher incomes). Congress, which enacted a federal income tax law in October 1913, just seven months after the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment, opted for a modestly progressive tax rate. The rate of taxation imposed on then top taxation bracket has varied from 7 percent in 1913 to a high of 92 percent in 1952-53. The current rate of taxation in the top bracket is 38.6 percent, nearer the low end of that continuum.     wordcount: 196


Amendment XVII
When the Constitution was first drafted, the framers believed that the Senate, the upper house, should be the repository of superior wisdom and virtue and, toward that end, stipulated that senators should be elected by the legislatures of each of the states, whose members would be presumably be able to make wiser choice that the people at large. As one of a series of reforms during the Progressive Era. Congress proposed, and the states endorsed, an amendment calling for the direct, popular election of senators.     wordcount: 85


Amendment XVIII
Most of the amendments to the Constitution seek to grant specific rights to the people by placing restraints on the actions of the government. The Eighteenth Amendment is the only amendment that has sought to restrict the rights of the people -- in this case the right to manufacture, sell, or transport ''intoxicating liquors'' within the United States. Interestingly, it does not prevent the consumption of liquor. Though liquor consumption declined markedly during the years when the amendment was in force, it certainly did not cease. Indeed, as people turned to illegal sources for their alcoholic beverages, the operation of the Eighteenth Amendment served to encourage otherwise law-abiding people to break the law nd bolster the activities of organized crime.     wordcount: 120


Amendment XIX
The Nineteenth Amendment was the culmination of more than three-quarters of a century of dedicated work by advocates of female suffrage. Although some states had passed legislation allowing women the right to vote prior to 1920, that right was not extended to all women until the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment. Unlike the operation of the Fifteenth Amendment, which was thwarted by states that found ways to continue to deny the vote to African Americans, the amendment granting women the right to vote encountered little resistance in the aftermath of its passage.     wordcount: 92


Amendment XX
Many of the most consequential amendments to the Constitution (e.g., the first ten amendments) are remarkably brief, while some of the more arcane amendments seem to require more elaborate verbiage. This is certainly the case with the Twentieth Amendment reduced the amount of time elapsing between the president's election and his inauguration. It also moved the meeting time of a newly elected Congress from March to January 3, preventing the meeting of a lame-duck session of Congress whose actions might not be consonant with the will of the electorate as expressed in the November elections.     wordcount: 95

Traditionally, new presidents took office in March, creating a significant time gap between their election in November and their inauguration. In some cases this time lag had serious consequences. For example, during the period between Abraham Lincoln's election and inauguration, his Democratic predecessor, James Buchanan, found himself to be a lame-duck president at a time when Southern states were seceding from the union. In recognition of the improvements in communication and transportation since the Constitution was originally adopted, the Twentieth Amendment reduced the amount of time elapsing between the president's election and his inauguration. It also moved the meeting time of a newly elected Congress from mArch to JAnuary3, preventing the meeting of a lame-duck session of Congress whose actions might not be consistent with the will of the electorate as expressed in the November elections.     wordcount: 136

The remaining parts of the Twentieth Amendment seek to clarify the role of Congress in determining a plan of succession in case of the death or remobalof both the president and Vice President. For much of the nineteenth century, Congress designated the president pro temper of the Senate as next in line succession; from the 1880's until 1947, Congressstipulated that the secretary of state would be next in line. The decision to change the law and provide for the Speaker of the House to assume office in case of the president and vice president's absence was shaped by the leader of the legislative branch most directly responsible to the people -- assume the presidency.     wordcount: 114


Amendment XXI
Just as the Eighteenth Amendment is the only constitutional amendment to restrict the rights of the American people, the Twenty-first Amendment, which ended Prohibition, is the only amendment in the Constitution to repeal a previous amendment. The Twenty-first amendment does not specifically allow for the manufacture, transport, or sale of liquors but, rather, returns to the states the right to regulate alcohol distribution and consumption. This amendment is unusual in that it specifies that state conventions, rather than state legislatures, should be the bodies responsible for ratifying the amendment.     wordcount: 89


Amendment XXII
Although the people of the United States had expressed their will by electing Franklin D. Roosevelt president in four successive elections, in the aftermath of Roosevelt's terms in office many Americans began to have second thoughts about the wisdom of allowing a president to exceed what had previously been the ''two-term tradition'' set by George Washington. By the terms of the Twenty-second Amendment, Presidents are limited to two terms, or if they have served at least two years of a previous president's term, to one term. Americans continue to disagree on whether ''term limits'' -- either in the executive or legislative branches -- are consistent with democratic governance, and there have been occasional attempts to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, although none has come close to success thus far.     wordcount: 128


Amendment XXIII
The District of Columbia, seat of the nation's government, has always occupied a peculiar place within our federal system. The Constitution empowered Congress to designate a territory ''not exceeding ten Miles square'' as the nation's capital but specifically intended the the ''federal district'' not be within the boundaries or jurisdiction of any particular state. Therefore, while the federal government exercises much of its enormous power within the District of Columbia, that territory has been denied the right vote in presidential elections. By the terms of the Twenty-third Amendment the residents of the District of Columbia are entitled to vote for presidential electors, with the number of electors representing the district being equal to the number of senators and representatives that the district would have if it were a state. On the basis of its present population, that means three electors.     wordcount: 140


Amendment XXIV
Although the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were intended to ensure African Americans the right to vote, the imposition of a poll tax -- a fee that citizens had to ay to the state or locality if they wished to vote -- was a common device by which states, particularly those the South, prevented low-income voters, who were often predominantly African American, from voting. The Twenty-fourth Amendment explicitly prohibits the imposition of taxes as a condition for voting. The amendment does not say anything about the use of the poll tax in state elections, but soon after the passage of the Twenty-fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court, citing the ''equal protection'' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, ruled that it was unconstitutional for states to require the payment of poll taxes asa condition for voting in state elections.     wordcount: 135


Amendment XXV
Although the Twentieth Amendment deals in part with the issue of presidential succession, the Twenty-fifth Amendment provides a more detailed description of how Congress should proceed in the event of the death or removal of a president or vice president, or in the case of the temporary disability of the president (for example, if the president falls seriously ill or undergoes an operation and is not able for a period of time to exercise the duties of his office). eight American presidents have died in office, and one has resigned. And there have been several occasions when a president has been temporarily disabled (for example, when Ronald Reagan was wounded by a would-be assassin's bullet in 1981, he transferred power to his vice president, George H. W. Bush, while he was hospitalized).     wordcount: 132

The amendment also deals with the delicate question of how to deal with the disability of a president when the president himself is not willing to declare such a disability. For example, in 1918 President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke and many believed that his disability prevented him from carrying out the duties of his office effectively, but there were no means by which to resolve the issue. The Twenty-fifth Amendment stipulates that Congress may, if two-thirds of the members of both houses agree, provide written declaration that the president is disabled and then transfer power to the Vice President.     wordcount: 100


Amendment XXVI
It is no accident that this amendment giving citizens eighteen years or older the right to vote was passed at the height of the Vietnam War. Some of the reasoning behind this amendment was that if young men and women are old enough to serve and risk their lives in the military, then they should also be given the right to vote.     wordcount: 62


Amendment XXVII
The Twenty-seventh Amendment was originally part of thr package of twelve amendments submitted to the states by the First Congress in 1789, but it was not ratified at that time. Agitation to reconsider the amendment resurfaced in the 1980s, as the public became increasingly unhappy over a series of pay raises that members of Congress awarded themselves. The provisions of this amendment made it impossible for members of Congress to put into effect increases in their salaries before the session in which they are serving has ended. By this mechanism, members of Congress seeking reelection have to justify their proposed increases in salary to voters during their reelection campaigns.     wordcount: 109

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