The United States Constitution
The United States Constitution. Everyone knows what it is. It provides the legal backbone for the laws of the United States. However, there is a lot more to the Constitution then just 27 Amendments. I will even venture so far as to guess that some of you reading this had no idea that there were 27 Amendments. I would even guess a few of you had no idea there were more then 10 Amendments.
The Constitution is more then just the Amendments. It is made up of the preamble, seven articles, the signers and the 27 Amendments. The Bill of Rights is also part of the Constitution. However, it is what the first 10 or the 27 Amendments are referred to as.
The preamble of the constitution is the beginning of the Document or the opening lines. Most people know this as “We the People.” However, there is more then just those three words to the preamble. The preamble in its entirety states:
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.
This statement makes The United States a Constitutional Democracy ruled by the people of the country (or at least that was what was meant by it at the conception of this document.) The preamble is directly followed by the seven articles.
Article I describes the Legislative Branch and the powers given to it. This article describes how the legislative Branch is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate. How these members are elected as well as their compensation are covered in this article. This article limits the power of the Legislative Branch. Section 10 of Article I limits States rights to interactions with other countries and more importantly requires the States to use the Gold Standard for debts and currency ( something that the Federal government did away with years ago in order for the Federal Reserve, witch is not a government agency, to control our currency and keep us in debt).
Article II describes The Presidency. It dictates the election process, how the President will be installed into office as well as how to remove a President from office. However, removal from office is not the same as Impeachment. Impeachment is the formal process of accusing an elected official of unlawful activity. Impeachment does not mean removal from office but can lead to removal of office.
Article III is all about the Judiciary system. Just like the first two Articles this one details the powers given to the judicial system. This article also describes the act of Treason and the requirements for conviction of Treason. Section 3 ort Article III gives Congress the power to declare the punishment for treason in the event of a conviction.
Those first three Articles give the Federal Government its powers and describe how they can use them ( back when the federal Government actually adhered to the Constitution). Article IV gives the States its rights. It covers privileges and immunities for the States as well as extradition and even discusses fugitive slaves. This Article describes how States can be admitted to the Union. It also delineates what is guaranteed to the States by the Federal Government.
Although I will discuss the last 3 Articles together they are not any less important then the first 4. They are probably more important then all 4 articles combined and that’s why very little is contained in each of them. Article V explains the Amendment process to the constitution. Article VI states the legality of the Constitution and binds all government officials to the laws of the constitution and the laws of the United States. Article VII ratifies the Constitution or in other words made the Constitution law.
The next section of the Constitution is the signers. These are the people that agreed upon the Constitution and made it law. They are the representatives of the existing states at the time. Because I believe every one of these people are important to this country here is the list of people who signed the Constitution:
G. Washington, John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King, Wm: Saml. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, Wil: Livingston, David Brearly, Wm. Paterson, Jona: Dayton, B. Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robt. Morris, Geo. Clymer, Thos. FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouv Morris, Geo: Read, Gunning Bedford jun, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jaco: Broom, James McHenry, Dan of St Thos. Jenifer, Danl Carroll, John Blair--, James Madison Jr., Wm. Blount, Richd. Dobbs Spaight, Hu Williamson, J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler, William Few, Abr Baldwin
I am sure you recognize at least a few names such as Ben Franklin and George Washington, but as you can see they were not the only ones involved in the writing of our constitution. These are all great people in the founding of the United States and is why I felt it necessary to include everyone one of their names.
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After the signers come the Amendments. The first ten Amendments are considered the Bill of Rights. These are the Amendments most people are familiar with even if they do not know all 10. I believe almost everyone knows the first Amendment. Amendment I is also know as the Freedom of Speech or the Freedom of Religion. What it actually says is:
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.
This Amendment deserves its own hub. As you can see the writers of the Constitution made this some what vague as to encompass a lot. The more exact you word laws the easier it is to find loop holes. This is why this Amendment has stood up to the test every time.
The Second Amendment is probably the most important Amendment in the constitution. Amendment II is some times referred to as the Right to Bear arms. It provides the ability for every state to have a regulated militia and gives every citizen of the united states the right to own fire arms. This is probably the most contested Amendment in the Constitution. It is also the Amendment that keeps us free as well as keeps the other Amendments the law of the United States. This Amendment also deserves its own discussion in a hub.
Amendment III makes it illegal for soldiers to be stationed in private homes with out consent during times of peace (this part of the Amendment has become some what irrelevant since in the 31 years I have walked the earth the United States has constantly been in a state of war). It also protects against having soldiers stationed at your house during wars unless it is described by law. Such as Marshal Law.
Amendment IV protects the citizens of the United States from illegal search and seizure. It provides warrants can not be issued with out probable cause. This is the Amendment everyone should familiarize them selves with.
The next Amendment is the one everyone pleads in all the court shows. It’s the 5th Amendment. Amendment V provides the rules for Grand Jury. It protects the citizens from Double Jeopardy. Amendment V describes due process and it protects people from testifying against them self if they feel their testimony will incriminate them.
Amendment VI, VII and VIII work in conjunction with each other. All three amendments deal with prosecutions, trials and punishments. It provides for a speedy public trial and the ability for a person to have legal counsel. These Amendments give the people the option of a jury trial. They also protect against excessive bail, excessive fines and cruel or unusual punishment.
Amendments IX and X both give all rights not specifically given to the Federal Government by the Constitution to the States and the People. The rights given to the Federal Government can not be used to deny the rights retained by the people. It also provides that rights not prohibited by the Constitution to the states are reserved to the States and the People.
Those are the First Ten Amendments also know as the Bill of Rights. These are the original Amendments written and ratified by the founding fathers. The rest of the Amendments were written after the first ten and after the Constitution.
The first Amendment added after the Constitution was ratified is the 11th Amendment. Amendment XI attempted to stop citizens from suing the States. What it did was bar suits against States based on the status of the party plaintiff and did not address the instance of suits based on the nature of the subject matter.
Amendment XII describes the election process of the President and Vice President of the United States. This Amendment also provides that the Electors can not vote for a President and Vice President from the same state. In the description of the Election process in this Amendment you will find that the people have no choice in who is President. Only the Electors from each State can cast a vote for President. Some states have made it law in their particular state that the Electors have to follow the popular vote. However, that is still a far cry from every persons vote counting for President.
The 13th Amendment abolished Slavery. I believe that is self explanatory.
Amendment XIV is actually the Amendment which states no state can 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. Most people believe this is part of the Ten Amendments. This Amendment also describes the requirements to become an elected official and forbids people who have been charged with treason from running for office. It also invalidates debts incurred by actions in rebellion or insurrection against the United States.
Amendment XV is the right for CITIZENS of the United States to vote. It provides that no one can be denied this right based on color of skin or religion etcetera.
The 16th Amendment is the one that screws us all. This Amendment was added to the constitution in 1913 and is the most corrupt Amendment of the Constitution. This Amendment gives the Congress the ability to tax us with out representation. This Amendment allows them to install income tax on any thing they see fit and raise it at will.
Amendment XVII changes the rules for Senators. It sets a limit of 2 senators from each state and sets the duration of their term to 6 years. Amendment XVII also provides the procedures for replacing Senators when vacancies happen.
Amendment XVIII was the amendment that prohibited the sale, manufacture and consumption of alcohol. It was repealed by Amendment XXI.
Amendment XIX gave Women the right to vote. Apparently they were not part of Amendment XV. If you read Amendment XV closely it never mentions sex.
The next amendment is the 20th Amendment determines when Presidential and Congressional terms begin and end. It also requires Congress to meet at least once a year. This Amendment provides instructions for replacing the President should the President die in office.
Amendment XXI repeals prohibition of alcohol. (repeals the 18th Amendment)
The next Amendment, Amendment XXII, puts a limit of 2 terms on a President. It also defines a term as more then two years. This effectively means that some one could potentially serve 10 years as President. This would happen if they were Vice President and the President died or was removed from office with 2 or less years remaining in the Term. Then the Vice President becomes President and could still run for their two terms.
Amendment XXIII gives Washington D.C. Electors as if it were a state for the purposed of the Presidential election. This Amendment was passed in 1961. Before then anyone who lived in D.C. had absolutely no say in the election of the President. Since then they have had the illusion that their vote counts even though it does not. Once again the only vote that counts for President is the Electors that are appointed.
The 24th Amendment keeps citizens from being denied the right to vote based on their ability to pay taxes. In other words you can not be denied the right to vote just because you have not paid your taxes.
25th Amendment exacts the details of succession for President in the case of death or removal of office. It also provides the steps for replacing the Vice President in the event that the office of Vice President becomes vacant.
Surprisingly it was not until Amendment XXVI that the voting age was determined. This Amendment was ratified in 1971. Before then there was no specific age for voting.
At the time I have written this the last Amendment in the Constitution of the Untied States is the 27th Amendment. Which was ratified in 1992. This Amendment prevents the corrupt congress from having their ill gotten raises go into effect immediately. The Amendment makes the change in compensation wait until after the next election of Representatives.
For those of you who have read this all the way through I hope this article gives you a better understanding of the United States Constitution. This is the supreme law of the land and will remain that way as long as the citizens stay informed and fight to protect these rights. The Constitution keeps the United States citizens free.
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