|Outline and Summary of the United States Constitution
Preamble: (verbatim) We the People of the United States, in Order to forma 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.
Section 1: All legislative powers are given to the Congress, which will consist of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Section 2: Rules regarding the selection of members of the House of Representatives
-Members of the House will be chosen every 2 years. Representatives must be at least 25 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least 7 years, and a resident of the state from which they are elected.
-Each state will have a certain number of representatives, and also pay direct taxes, on the basis of population size. The number used will be determined by adding up the whole number of free persons (including servants, women, children, non-voters) and excluding Indians not taxed plus 3/5 of all other persons (e.g. slaves).
-The governor of each state will call elections to fill vacancies in the House.
-The members of the House will choose their speaker and other officers; and they have the sole power to impeach.
Section 3: Rules regarding the selection and powers of the senate
-The senate will consist of two senators from each state, chosen by the legislature of the state. They will have terms of six years. If a senator resigns or leaves office when the state legislature is out of session, the governor may temporarily appoint a replacement.
-Members of the senate must be at least 30 years old, have been a citizen of the United States for at least 9 years, and be a resident of the state from which they are elected.
-The Vice President of the United States is President of the Senate, but only votes in case a tie-breaker is needed.
-The members of the senate will choose their officers.
-The senate has the sole power to try impeachments. A conviction must have a 2/3 majority. If the senate convicts someone in an impeachment trial, that person may be removed from office and/or disqualified from holding any office. But that person may be subject to trial in a criminal court.
Section 4: State legislatures will decide how and when senators will be elected although Congress may make changes to their plan.
Congress will assemble at least once per year, beginning on the first Monday in December.
Section 5: (concerns the rules of operation of the Congress)
Section 6: Members of the Congress will be paid for their services. They will have immunity from arrest and freedom of speech while in office unless they commit treason, a felony, or a breach of the peace.
While in office, no member of Congress may accept another office or the benefits of another office.
Section 7: All bills having to do with raising revenue must begin in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may add amendments to such bills.
Every bill passed by both the House and the Senate will be submitted to the president for approval. He may veto the bill, but if 2/3 of the members of each house pass it again it becomes law. Every order, resolution or vote must be presented to the president.
Section 8: Powers of Congress
-to impose a variety of taxes in order to pay for defense and the general welfare, as long as all such taxes are the same throughout the states.
-to borrow money;
-to regulate commerce with foreign nations, between the states, and with Indian Tribes;
-to establish laws on naturalization and on bankruptcy;
-to coin money, regulate its value, and fix standard weights & measures;
-to regulate the punishment of counterfeiters of U.S. money;
-to establish post offices and post roads;
-to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing patents and copyrights;
-to create a court system below the Supreme Court;
-to define and punish piracies and crimes on the high seas;
-to declare war, commission privateers, and make rules about captures of prizes on land and sea;
-to raise and support armies—but no appropriations for armies may be for longer than two years;
-to provide and maintain a navy;
-to make rules to govern and regulate the army and navy;
-to establish rules for calling out the militia to execute the laws, suppress rebellions, and repel invasions;
-to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia;
-to legislate for a capital district (i.e. the District of Columbia); and also to legislate for federal land used for forts, etc.
-to make all laws that are necessary and proper for carrying out any of the above listed powers and other powers given to the government by this constitution.
Section 9: Limits on Congressional Power
Congress may not prohibit the migration or importation of anyone to the United States before 1808, though it may impose a tax on the importation of persons. [This is about the international slave trade.]]
The write of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless public safety requires it, as during an invasion or rebellion.
No laws that punish people without a trial (bill of attainder) or laws that apply to people after the fact (ex post facto) may be passed.
No poll tax or direct tax (e.g. a tax on land value; one paid directly to the government) may be imposed unless in proportion to the population of a state.
Congress may not tax articles exported from any state.
Congress may not give legal preference to some ports over others. Also, no ship bound to or from one state may be required to enter or pay taxes in another state.
Congress may only spend money drawn from the treasury and only to pay for appropriations made by law. Regular accounts of receipts and expenditures must be published.
Congress may not grant titles of nobility; nor may any U.S. office holder accept any gift, benefit, office, or title from any foreign state.
Section 10: Limits on States under the Constitution
States may not form treaties or alliances, commission privateers, coin money, borrow money, allow paper money to be used for payment of debts, pass laws that punish people without trial, pass ex post facto laws, pass laws that undermine contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
States may not impose duties on imports and exports except as needed to enforce inspection laws—and those monies will go to the U.S. treasury.
No state may keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, form an alliance with another state or with a foreign power, or engage in war unless actually invaded.
Section 1: The executive power of the United States will given to the President. He will hold office for a term of 4 years and, along with the vice president, will be elected as follows:
-[A description of the electoral college system—each state appoints electors equal to the number of senators and representatives to Congress. These electors will meet in their states and vote for two persons, one of whom must live in a different state. The results of these elections will be sent to the U.S. Senate. The person with the greatest number of votes will be President as long as he receives a majority of the electors. The person with the second greatest number of votes will be vice president. If there is a tie, or if there is not a majority, then the House of Representatives will choose the president. The Senate will choose the vice president.]
-The president must be a natural born citizen of the United States. The president must be at least 35 years old and be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
-If the president leaves, or is removed from, office, the vice president will take his office. Congress may pass a law to determine who will act as president if both the president and vice president are both unable to act as president.
-The president will be paid a salary. He may not receive any other benefits from the United States or from any state.
-The president must swear an oath upon taking office. [listed here]
Section 2: Powers of the President
-The president will be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States of the state militias.
-He may require the heads of government departments to submit reports to him in writing. He also has the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
-He has the power to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate;
-to appoint ambassadors, consuls, judges of the supreme court, and other officers of the United States (except those listed in the constitution); These appointments must be approved by the Senate unless Congress decides that some inferior officers may be chosen by the president alone;
-the president may fill vacancies in official positions when the senate is in recess.
Section 3: Presidential powers continued
-He shall give Congress information on the state of the union.
-He may, in extraordinary circumstances, convene both houses or either of them.
-If they disagree about adjournment, he may also adjourn them to such a time as he may think proper.
-He shall receive ambassadors and other public officials;
-He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed and shall commission officers of the United States.
Section 4: The President, Vice President, and all civil [not military] officers of the United States shall be removed from office if they are impeached and convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Section 1: The judicial power of the United States shall be given to one supreme court, and also to inferior courts that Congress may establish. Judges will hold their offices during good behavior and will be paid.
Section 2: Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
-extends to all cases arising under the constitution, the laws of the United States, and in treaties made under their authority;
-also extends to cases affecting ambassadors, public officials, and consults;
-to all cases of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction;
-to cases in which the United States is a party;
-to cases between two or more states, between a state and citizens of another state; or between citizens of different states.
-to cases between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants from different states, and cases between a state or the citizens of a state and a foreign country.
-In cases affecting ambassadors, public officials, and consults and those in which a state is a party, the supreme courts has original jurisdiction. In other cases, the supreme court acts as an appeals court.
-The trial of all crimes, except case of impeachment, will be by jury; and the trial will be held in the state where the crimes were committed.
Section 3: Treason against the United States will consist of—waging war against them, or giving aid & comfort to U.S. enemies. No one may be convicted of treason without the testimony of two witnesses to the same act, or on confession in open court.
Congress may determine the punishment for treason, but such punishment may not prevent the convicted person’s heirs from inheriting his property.
Section 1: Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings in every other state.
Section 2: The citizens of each state are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.
A person charged with a crime who flees to another state must be extradited to the state from which he fled.
No person who is bound to service or labor in one state (e.g. a slave) who flees to another state shall be discharged from their service or labor (e.g. because slavery is illegal in that state). They must be returned to the person to whom they owe service or labor.
Section 3: New states may be admitted by Congress to this union, but no new state may be formed inside the boundaries of another state. Nor can a new state be formed by existing states or parts of states joining together unless both the Congress and the relevant state legislatures consent.
Congress has the power to regulate the territories and other property belonging to the United States.
Section 4: The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect them from invasion; and if asked by the state legislature or governor also protect them against domestic violence.
Article V: The is the procedure by which this constitution may be amended, requiring the consent of 2/3 of the House of Representatives, 2/3 of the Senate, and ¾ of the state legislatures to approve. Amendments may be initiated by the states or by Congress.
Article VI: The United States accepts responsibility for all debts contracted before this Constitution.
The Constitution and the Laws of the United States and all treaties shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state will be bound by these—anything in the state constitution or state laws notwithstanding.
Senators, Representatives, members of state legislatures, and all executive officers and judges may be bound by oath or affirmation to support the constitution. But there shall never be a religious requirement as a qualification to hold office or public trust in the United States.
Article VII: This document must be ratified by 9 states to become effective.