United States Constitution

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United States Constitution
US constitution.jpg
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVII
Amendments
I-XXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIIIXIXXXXXIXXIIXXIIIXXIVXXVXXVIXXVII
The United States Constitution is the law of the United States of America. It was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later ratified by conventions in each state in the name of "the People"; it has since been amended seventeen times, minus the 10 added through the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has a central place in United States law and political culture. The U.S. Constitution is argued by many to be the oldest written national constitution. The handwritten, or "engrossed", original document is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. The United States Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures.

Preamble

The preamble to the United States Constitution 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 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.

Article I: The Legislative Branch

Article I details the form and function of the United States Congress. It details that congress is to be a bicameral body composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives, whose members are to be elected by the people of each state. It also designates all legislative powers to be held by Congress. It is the longest article of the Constitution and has been amended the most.

Article II: The Executive Branch

Article II establishes the executive branch of government and sets the President of the United States at its head. It also describes the duties of the president and vice-president and names the president as Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

Article III: The Judicial Branch

Article III details the judicial branch of government and designates the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land. It also describes the requirements to be convicted of treason and the potential punishment for it.

Article IV: The States

Article IV describes the states of the union and their interactions with the federal government and with one another.

Article V: Amendment

Article V establishes amendment as a means of altering the Constitution. The amendment process requires 2/3 vote of both houses to call a convention for amendment proposal and further requires ratification by 3/4 of states for a proposed amendment to become law.

Article VI: Debts, Supremacy, Oaths

Article VI describes debts, contracts, and oaths. It declares the Constitution to be the supreme law of the land and requires that all legislative, executive, and judicial officers take an oath to support the Constitution. It also declares that no religious test shall ever be required to hold public office.

Article VII: Ratification

Article VII deals with the ratification of the Constitution. It contains the signatures of the representatives of each state at the convention.

Amendments

Bill of Rights

The bill of rights consists of the first ten amendments to the constitution. These amendments detail the rights of the individual.

  • Amendment I: Freedom of Speech
  • Amendment II: Right to Bear Arms
  • Amendment III: Quartering of Soliders
  • Amendment IV: Search and Seizure
  • Amendment V: Trial and Punishment
  • Amendment VI: Right to a Speedy Trial and Confrontation of Witnesses
  • Amendment VII: Trial by Jury in Civil Cases
  • Amendment VIII: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
  • Amendment IX: Construction of the Constitution
  • Amendment X: Powers of the States and People

Subsequent amendments

  • Amendment XI: The 11th Amendment establishes limits on the power of the Judiciary.
  • Amendment XII: The 12th Amendment describes the process for choosing the President and Vice-President.
  • Amendment XIII: The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
  • Amendment XIV: The 14th Amendment details the rights of the citizen.
  • Amendment XV: The 15th Amendment forbids using race as a means to deny a citizen to vote.
  • Amendment XVI: The 16th Amendment gives Congress the right to establish an income tax.
  • Amendment XVII: The 17th Amendment declares that senators shall be elected by a popular vote.
  • Amendment XVIII: The 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transport of liquor.
  • Amendment XIX: The 19th Amendment extended the right of voting to women.
  • Amendment XX: The 20th Amendment describes presidential and congressional terms.
  • Amendment XXI: The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th amendment, effectively ending prohibition.
  • Amendment XXII: The 22nd Amendment enacted a two-term limit on the President.
  • Amendment XXIII: The 23rd Amendment describes the presidential vote for the District of Columbia.
  • Amendment XXIV: The 24th Amendment bars the use of a poll tax.
  • Amendment XXV: The 25th Amendment sets up the presidential line of succession.
  • Amendment XXVI: The 26th Amendment sets the voting age to be 18 years.
  • Amendment XXVII: The 27th Amendment delays the effect of changes to congressional pay.

External links