Preamble & Articles I, II, and III
Spencer Johnson and Kayla Barr
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Summary of Section I- Section 4 of Article I
- Only Congress has the power to make laws. Congress is a bicameral legislative body—that is, it's divided into two chambers, the House and the Senate.
- Every two years, voters get a chance to cast ballots to determine who will represent them in the House of Representatives. Each state must allow anyone who can legally vote in state elections also to vote for US Representative; the states aren't allowed to limit voting rights for US House elections to a small group. To be able to serve in the House: You need to be 25 years old, you need to have been a citizen for at least seven years, and you need to live in the state you want to represent in Congress. Representation is chosen by state's population, so the more population a state has the more representation it gets. A census needs to be taken every ten years to count all of the population in every state to make sure the representation stays proportional to the population. If a seat in congress becomes empty for any reason, the governor of that state is supposed to call an election to fill that seat. The House of Representation has the authority to choose its own leaders. The majority party chooses its leader to serve as Speaker. Only the HOR has the authority to question the integrity of executive and judicial officers seeming unfit for office.
- Each state gets two seats in the Senate and each one of those senator's terms lasts six years. Originally senators were not elected by the citizens but were chosen by the state legislatures, but this led to widespread accusations of corruption. One third of the Senate's seats are up for election every two years. All senators will never face election at the same time. To be a senate you have to be at least 30 years old and have been a US citizen for at least nine years and be a current resident of the state you want to represent. The vice president has a pretty useless role in the government.. unless the President dies. The Vice President doesn't get to participate in debates or cast a vote, except in the rare chance of a tie vote. The senate gets to "run the show" when the VP isn't in the house, which is most of the time. The senate also has the authority to choose its other officers. If the HOR choose to vote and impeach a civil officer, the senate must serve as judge and jury. The only punishments the senate is allowed to make in impeachment situations is removal from office and banishment from future government services.
- Usually the states organize congressional election but congress also has the power to set new rules for federal elections if needed. At least one section of Congress is required to meet each year.
- The House and the Senate are given the authority to judge the qualifications of their own members. It is ultimately up to the Senate to decide which candidate gets the same seat. A majority of either chamber's members is required to be present to constitute a quorum. The House and the Senate have the power to set their own rules of parliamentary procedure. Over the years of American history their rules have gotten very complex. the House and the Senate have the authority to kick out members for acting badly, by using a 2/3 vote. Each of the two chambers of congress must publish a record of their proceedings, it documents all official activity on the floor of either house. Neither the House nor the Senate can go on extended vacation while the other can remain in business.
- Congressmen get paid by the government and they set their own salary. Also, congressmen have "legislative immunity" they cannot be charged with a crime for anything that they say in Congress and they cannot be arrested unless they have committed treason or another sort of serious crime. People serving in either the executive or judicial branches of the US government cannot also serve in Congress and vice versa.
- All legislation revolving around revenue must originate in the HOR, but the senate retains its normal power to propose any bill sent from the House. A bill can only become a law when both houses of congress have passes it and then send it to the President. If he signs it, it becomes a law. Or it can go back to congress where it faces a two-thirds vote to override him, or if he ignores it after 10 days it becomes a law automatically. But he can refuse to sign it and it does not abide by the 10 day rule. Special measure passes under special circumstances by congress are still supposed to be sent to the president for his signature to be counted as a law, but if it is not signed by the president just composed by Congress it does not count as a law.
- Congress has the power to tax and collect taxes, and pay the debts and provide for the defense well being of the US, but everything must be uniform throughout the US. Congress has the power to borrow money on credit from the US. Congress has the power to impose regulations on trade of commerce with foreign nations, and with other states. They have the power to establish a process for immigrants to become American citizens. And they have the power to set rules for hopelessly indebted people and businesses to declare bankruptcy. They have the power to regulate the value of money. They have the power to punish people for counterfeiting money. Also they have the power to establish post offices and build roads to connect things. They have the power to create a system of copyrights and patents giving creative people the rights to sell their creations. They also have the power to set up lower federal courts that report the Supreme Court. The congress has the power to declare war and they are the only ones in the government to do so. They have the power to collect people to serve in the Army for longer than two years.