Preamble & Articles I, II, & III

Olivia Bunn and Halie Huffman


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 the Constitution for the United States of America.

Article 1

It details the legislative branch.

Section 1

All power granted to someone will be through Congress, which will be passed through the Senate and House Of Representatives.

Section 2

Members of the House of Representatives will be able to cast a ballot every 2 years. You need to be at least 25 years old to be a Representative. You need to be a citizen for 7 years or more. And you must live in the state you want to represent in Congress. If a congressional seat becomes vacant in the middle of a term the states governor is supposed to hold a special election to fill it. The number of Representatives shall not exceed 1 for every thirty thousand, but each state must have one.

Section 3

Each state gets two seats in the Senate, doesn't matter how big the population is. They may serve for 6 years. To be a Senator you have to be at least 30 years old and a citizen for 9 years. You must be a resident in the state you want to represent. The vice presidents role is useless, unless the presidents dies.

Section 4

This clause requires at least one session of Congress to meet each year. The 20th Amendment, passed in 1933, moved the standard opening day from the first Monday in December to January 3.The same law set one standard Election Day. The Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Section 5

The House and the Senate are given the power to judge the qualifications of their own members. Congress can continue to conduct business with less than a quorum present, but any member can then issue a "quorum call," requiring either that a majority of the members actually show up or that the house takes a temporary adjournment. Both chambers of Congress must publish an official record of their proceedings. The Congressional Record is published daily while either house is in session. Neither the House nor the Senate can go out on extended vacation while the other remains in business, unless the other chamber approves.

Section 6

Congressmen get paid by the government, at a salary they set themselves. Congressmen have "legislative immunity". They cannot be charged with a crime for anything they say in Congress, and they cannot be arrested or harassed by the police unless they have committed treason or other serious crimes. People serving in office in either executive or judicial branches of the US government cannot also simultaneously serve in Congress.

Section 7

All tax and tariff legislation must originate in the House of Representatives. Both houses of Congress have to pass a law, then send it to the president. If the president signs it, it becomes law. If the president vetoes it, it goes back to Congress. Joint resolutions of Congress are special measures passed under special circumstances, unlike regular bills of law.

Section 8

The very first power given to Congress by the Constitution is the power to tax. Money is power, and in the governmental structure created by the Constitution, Congress controls the money. Congress is allowed to go into debt to pay for government programs and services. Deficit spending by the government was fairly rare in peacetime through much of American history, but has been quite common in recent decades. This means that Congress has the power to set up lower-level federal courts that report to the Supreme Court. That court system has grown over time; today there are twelve circuit Courts of Appeals, plus 94 federal District Courts, plus dozens of other special courts. Congress has the power to set up a system of copyrights and patents, granting creative people the exclusive right to sell their creations.

Congress has the power to set up Post Offices and to build roads connecting them.

Section 9

The Constitution barred any attempt to outlaw the slave trade before 1808. A way for a legislature to act like judge and jury, convicting and punishing people without benefit of trial. Southern economies at the time of the Constitutional Convention depended upon the export of cash crops like cotton, tobacco, rice, and indigo. Those states insisted that the Constitution ensure that those exports wouldn't be taxed by the national government.

Section 10

The states aren't independent nations, so they can't charge tariffs on imports from other states.

Article II

It details the executive branch.

Section 1

That broad executive power gives the president a strong reason to enforce the country's laws. This clause also states that the president's term of office lasts four years. Congress gets to set the date for presidential elections. Since the 19th century, Congress has always chosen to hold presidential elections on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Formal job requirements for the presidency: he has to have been born in the United States, he has to be at least 35 years old, and he has to been living inside the US for at least 14 years.

Section 2

Here the Framers spell out several of the president's more important powers. The president has the power to negotiate treaties with foreign governments, although a two-thirds vote of the Senate is required for ratification. He also has the power to nominate all appointed officials of the government, including both officers of the executive branch and judges of the judicial branch, although he needs to receive the advice and consent of the Senate in doing so.

Section 3

The president is required to report to Congress on "the State of the Union"; over time, this requirement has taken the shape of a formal "State of the Union Address" delivered every January to a joint meeting of both houses of Congress. The president has to "faithfully execute" the laws of the United States; this is probably the most important part of the presidential job description, so it's a bit odd that it's just tucked into the latter half of this clause.

Section 4

If the president does such a bad job that the Congress finds him guilty of treason, bribery, or "other high crimes and misdemeanors". He can be impeached and removed from office before the end of his normal four-year term.

Article III

It details Judicial Powers.

Section 1

Here the Constitution creates only the Supreme Court, granting it all "the judicial power of the United States." Thus the Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch, just as the president is the head of the executive branch. Federal judges are appointed for life terms, and are paid salaries that cannot be cut during the time they remain on the bench.

Section 2

This section establishes the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Federal courts can decide cases about federal law, arguments between different states, and disputes between residents of different states. Someone accused of a crime in federal court has the right to have his trial heard by a jury of his peers, rather than decided by a judge.

Section 3

The requirement for two eyewitnesses to an overt act of treason to convict someone for the crime remains an odd wrinkle in the law today. All it means is that the government cannot punish the relatives of someone convicted of treason. the maximum punishment for committing treason is death.