American constitution pdf

 

    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. The U.S. Constitution & Amendments: Read the Constitution (Continued). The Constitution of the United States. The signing of the Constitution took place on. The Constitution of the United States, the brainchild of some of America's greatest leaders following the colonies' War for Independence, has protected.

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    American Constitution Pdf

    of the English Constitution, which divided government by our ancestors into the American colonies. . of the Constitution itself (Mr. MADISON), telling us that. our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the. United States of America. Article. I. Section. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government edition of the Constitution of the United States of America—Analysis and.

    Signing the Constitution , September 17, On the appointed day, May 14, , only the Virginia and Pennsylvania delegations were present, and so the convention's opening meeting was postponed for lack of a quorum. Eventually twelve states were represented; 74 delegates were named, 55 attended and 39 signed. Two plans for structuring the federal government arose at the convention's outset: The Virginia Plan also known as the Large State Plan or the Randolph Plan proposed that the legislative department of the national government be composed of a Bicameral Congress, with both chambers elected with apportionment according to population. Generally favoring the most highly populated states, it used the philosophy of John Locke to rely on consent of the governed, Montesquieu for divided government, and Edward Coke to emphasize civil liberties. Generally favoring the less-populous states, it used the philosophy of English Whigs such as Edmund Burke to rely on received procedure and William Blackstone to emphasize sovereignty of the legislature. This position reflected the belief that the states were independent entities and, as they entered the United States of America freely and individually, remained so. On June 13, the Virginia resolutions in amended form were reported out of committee. The New Jersey plan was put forward in response to the Virginia Plan. A "Committee of Eleven" one delegate from each state represented met from July 2 to 16 [32] to work out a compromise on the issue of representation in the federal legislature. All agreed to a republican form of government grounded in representing the people in the states. For the legislature, two issues were to be decided: how the votes were to be allocated among the states in the Congress, and how the representatives should be elected.

    By the unanimous order of the convention. THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

    RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring , that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

    Article the first. After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

    Article the second. No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened. 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.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. The enumeration in the Constitution , of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.

    And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

    But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

    The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

    The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

    The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

    The Constitution of the United States

    In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President. Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

    Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

    The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age. No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

    In May , a committee of Congress made a report recommending an alteration in the Articles of Confederation, but no action was taken on it, and it was left to the State Legislatures to proceed in the matter.

    They are: Amendment I: 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. Amendment II: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Amendment III: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

    Amendment VII: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Who Signed the U. Advocates for the new frame of government, realizing the impending difficulty of obtaining the consent of the states needed to make it operational, were anxious to obtain the unanimous support of the delegations from each state. It was feared that many of the delegates would refuse to give their individual assent to the Constitution. Therefore, in order that the action of the Convention would appear to be unanimous, the formula, Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present The document is dated: This dual reference can also be found in the Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance.

    The closing endorsement serves an authentication function only. It neither assigns powers to the federal government nor does it provide specific limitations on government action.

    It does however, provide essential documentation of the Constitution's validity, a statement of "This is what was agreed to. The Constitution has twenty-seven amendments. Structurally, the Constitution's original text and all prior amendments remain untouched. The precedent for this practice was set in , when Congress considered and proposed the first several Constitutional amendments. Among these, Amendments 1—10 are collectively known as the Bill of Rights , and Amendments 13—15 are known as the Reconstruction Amendments.

    The Twenty-sixth Amendment was ratified in the shortest time, days. The average ratification time for the first twenty-six amendments was 1 year, days, for all twenty-seven, 9 years, 48 days. A proposed amendment becomes an operative part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the States currently 38 of the 50 States.

    There is no further step. The text requires no additional action by Congress or anyone else after ratification by the required number of states.

    This certification is published in the Federal Register and United States Statutes at Large and serves as official notice to Congress and to the nation that the ratification process has been successfully completed.

    The First Amendment prohibits Congress from obstructing the exercise of certain individual freedoms: Its Free Exercise Clause guarantees a person's right to hold whatever religious beliefs he or she wants, and to freely exercise that belief, and its Establishment Clause prevents the federal government from creating an official national church or favoring one set of religious beliefs over another.

    The amendment guarantees an individual's right to express and to be exposed to a wide range of opinions and views. It was intended to ensure a free exchange of ideas, even unpopular ones. It also guarantees an individual's right to physically gather or associate with others in groups for economic, political or religious purposes.

    Additionally, it guarantees an individual's right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Second Amendment protects the right of individuals [62] [63] to keep and bear arms. Patrick Henry had rhetorically asked, shall we be stronger, "when we are totally disarmed, and when a British Guard shall be stationed in every house? The Third Amendment prohibits the federal government from forcing individuals to provide lodging to soldiers in their homes during peacetime without their consent.

    Requested by several states during the Constitutional ratification debates, the amendment reflected the lingering resentment over the Quartering Acts passed by the British Parliament during the Revolutionary War, which had allowed British soldiers to take over private homes for their own use.

    The Fourth Amendment protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures of either self or property by government officials. A search can mean everything from a frisking by a police officer or to a demand for a blood test to a search of an individual's home or car. A seizure occurs when the government takes control of an individual or something in his or her possession. Items that are seized often are used as evidence when the individual is charged with a crime. It also imposes certain limitations on police investigating a crime and prevents the use of illegally obtained evidence at trial.

    The Fifth Amendment establishes the requirement that a trial for a major crime may commence only after an indictment has been handed down by a grand jury ; protects individuals from double jeopardy , being tried and put in danger of being punished more than once for the same criminal act; prohibits punishment without due process of law, thus protecting individuals from being imprisoned without fair procedures; and provides that an accused person may not be compelled to reveal to the police, prosecutor, judge, or jury any information that might incriminate or be used against him or her in a court of law.

    Additionally, the Fifth Amendment also prohibits government from taking private property for public use without " just compensation ", the basis of eminent domain in the United States.

    The Sixth Amendment provides several protections and rights to an individual accused of a crime. The accused has the right to a fair and speedy trial by a local and impartial jury.

    Likewise, a person has the right to a public trial. This right protects defendants from secret proceedings that might encourage abuse of the justice system, and serves to keep the public informed. This amendment also guarantees a right to legal counsel if accused of a crime, guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused, and guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against them.

    In , the Supreme Court ruled that, with the Fifth Amendment, this amendment requires what has become known as the Miranda warning. The Seventh Amendment extends the right to a jury trial to federal civil cases, and inhibits courts from overturning a jury's findings of fact.

    Although the Seventh Amendment itself says that it is limited to "suits at common law", meaning cases that triggered the right to a jury under English law, the amendment has been found to apply in lawsuits that are similar to the old common law cases. For example, the right to a jury trial applies to cases brought under federal statutes that prohibit race or gender discrimination in housing or employment. Importantly, this amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial only in federal court, not in state court.

    The Eighth Amendment protects people from having bail or fines set at an amount so high that it would be impossible for all but the richest defendants to pay and also protects people from being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Although this phrase originally was intended to outlaw certain gruesome methods of punishment, it has been broadened over the years to protect against punishments that are grossly disproportionate to or too harsh for the particular crime.

    This provision has also been used to challenge prison conditions such as extremely unsanitary cells, overcrowding, insufficient medical care and deliberate failure by officials to protect inmates from one another. The Ninth Amendment declares that individuals have other fundamental rights, in addition to those stated in the Constitution. During the Constitutional ratification debates Anti-Federalists argued that a Bill of Rights should be added.

    The Federalists opposed it on grounds that a list would necessarily be incomplete but would be taken as explicit and exhaustive , thus enlarging the power of the federal government by implication. The Anti-Federalists persisted, and several state ratification conventions refused to ratify the Constitution without a more specific list of protections, so the First Congress added what became the Ninth Amendment as a compromise. Because the rights protected by the Ninth Amendment are not specified, they are referred to as "unenumerated".

    The Supreme Court has found that unenumerated rights include such important rights as the right to travel, the right to vote, the right to privacy, and the right to make important decisions about one's health care or body. The Tenth Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to further define the balance of power between the federal government and the states. The amendment states that the federal government has only those powers specifically granted by the Constitution.

    These powers include the power to declare war, to collect taxes, to regulate interstate business activities and others that are listed in the articles or in subsequent constitutional amendments. Any power not listed is, says the Tenth Amendment, left to the states or the people. While there is no specific list of what these "reserved powers" may be, the Supreme Court has ruled that laws affecting family relations, commerce within a state's own borders, and local law enforcement activities, are among those specifically reserved to the states or the people.

    The Eleventh Amendment specifically prohibits federal courts from hearing cases in which a state is sued by an individual from another state or another country, thus extending to the states sovereign immunity protection from certain types of legal liability. Article Three, Section 2, Clause 1 has been affected by this amendment, which also overturned the Supreme Court's decision in Chisholm v. The Sixteenth Amendment removed existing Constitutional constraints that limited the power of Congress to lay and collect taxes on income.

    Specifically, the apportionment constraints delineated in Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4 have been removed by this amendment, which also overturned an Supreme Court decision, in Pollock v. This amendment has become the basis for all subsequent federal income tax legislation and has greatly expanded the scope of federal taxing and spending in the years since. The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the making, transporting, and selling of alcoholic beverages nationwide.

    It also authorized Congress to enact legislation enforcing this prohibition. Adopted at the urging of a national temperance movement , proponents believed that the use of alcohol was reckless and destructive and that prohibition would reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, decrease the need for welfare and prisons, and improve the health of all Americans.

    During prohibition, it is estimated that alcohol consumption and alcohol related deaths declined dramatically. But prohibition had other, more negative consequences. The amendment drove the lucrative alcohol business underground, giving rise to a large and pervasive black market. In addition, prohibition encouraged disrespect for the law and strengthened organized crime.

    Prohibition came to an end in , when this amendment was repealed. The Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and returned the regulation of alcohol to the states. Each state sets its own rules for the sale and importation of alcohol, including the drinking age.

    Because a federal law provides federal funds to states that prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors under the age of twenty-one, all fifty states have set their drinking age there. Rules about how alcohol is sold vary greatly from state to state. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude , except as punishment for a crime , and authorized Congress to enforce abolition. Though millions of slaves had been declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation , their post Civil War status was unclear, as was the status of other millions.

    This amendment rendered inoperative or moot several of the original parts of the constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment granted United States citizenship to former slaves and to all persons "subject to U. It also contained three new limits on state power: These limitations dramatically expanded the protections of the Constitution. This amendment, according to the Supreme Court's Doctrine of Incorporation , makes most provisions of the Bill of Rights applicable to state and local governments as well.

    It superseded the mode of apportionment of representatives delineated in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, and also overturned the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v.

    The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the use of race , color , or previous condition of servitude in determining which citizens may vote. The last of three post Civil War Reconstruction Amendments, it sought to abolish one of the key vestiges of slavery and to advance the civil rights and liberties of former slaves. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits the government from denying women the right to vote on the same terms as men.

    Prior to the amendment's adoption, only a few states permitted women to vote and to hold office. The Twenty-third Amendment extends the right to vote in presidential elections to citizens residing in the District of Columbia by granting the District electors in the Electoral College, as if it were a state. When first established as the nation's capital in , the District of Columbia's five thousand residents had neither a local government, nor the right to vote in federal elections.

    By the population of the District had grown to over , people. The Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibits a poll tax for voting. Although passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments helped remove many of the discriminatory laws left over from slavery, they did not eliminate all forms of discrimination. Along with literacy tests and durational residency requirements, poll taxes were used to keep low-income primarily African American citizens from participating in elections.

    The Supreme Court has since struck down these discriminatory measures, opening democratic participation to all. The Twenty-sixth Amendment prohibits the government from denying the right of United States citizens, eighteen years of age or older, to vote on account of age.

    The drive to lower the voting age was driven in large part by the broader student activism movement protesting the Vietnam War. It gained strength following the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. It stipulates that each elector must cast a distinct vote for President and Vice President, instead of two votes for President. It also suggests that the President and Vice President should not be from the same state. Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 is superseded by this amendment, which also extends the eligibility requirements to become President to the Vice President.

    The Seventeenth Amendment modifies the way senators are elected. It stipulates that senators are to be elected by direct popular vote. The amendment supersedes Article 1, Section 2 , Clauses 1 and 2, under which the two senators from each state were elected by the state legislature. It also allows state legislatures to permit their governors to make temporary appointments until a special election can be held.

    The Twentieth Amendment changes the date on which a new President, Vice President and Congress take office, thus shortening the time between Election Day and the beginning of Presidential, Vice Presidential and Congressional terms. This meant that, when a new Congress was elected in November, it did not come into office until the following March, with a " lame duck " Congress convening in the interim.

    By moving the beginning of the president's new term from March 4 to January 20 and in the case of Congress, to January 3 , proponents hoped to put an end to lame duck sessions, while allowing for a speedier transition for the new administration and legislators.

    The Twenty-second Amendment limits an elected president to two terms in office, a total of eight years. However, under some circumstances it is possible for an individual to serve more than eight years. Although nothing in the original frame of government limited how many presidential terms one could serve, the nation's first president, George Washington, declined to run for a third term, suggesting that two terms of four years were enough for any president.

    This precedent remained an unwritten rule of the presidency until broken by Franklin D. Roosevelt , who was elected to a third term as president and in to a fourth. The Twenty-fifth Amendment clarifies what happens upon the death, removal, or resignation of the President or Vice President and how the Presidency is temporarily filled if the President becomes disabled and cannot fulfill the responsibilities of the office.

    A concrete plan of succession has been needed on multiple occasions since The Twenty-seventh Amendment prevents members of Congress from granting themselves pay raises during the current session.

    Rather, any raises that are adopted must take effect during the next session of Congress. Its proponents believed that Federal legislators would be more likely to be cautious about increasing congressional pay if they have no personal stake in the vote.

    Article One, section 6, Clause 1 has been affected by this amendment, which remained pending for over two centuries as it contained no time limit for ratification.

    Collectively, members of the House and Senate typically propose around amendments during each two-year term of Congress. Six amendments approved by Congress and proposed to the states for consideration have not been ratified by the required number of states to become part of the Constitution.

    Four of these are technically still pending, as Congress did not set a time limit see also Coleman v. Miller for their ratification. The other two are no longer pending, as both had a time limit attached and in both cases the time period set for their ratification expired. The way the Constitution is understood is influenced by court decisions, especially those of the Supreme Court.

    These decisions are referred to as precedents.

    Judicial review is the power of the Court to examine federal legislation, federal executive, and all state branches of government, to decide their constitutionality , and to strike them down if found unconstitutional. Judicial review includes the power of the Court to explain the meaning of the Constitution as it applies to particular cases.

    Over the years, Court decisions on issues ranging from governmental regulation of radio and television to the rights of the accused in criminal cases have changed the way many constitutional clauses are interpreted, without amendment to the actual text of the Constitution.

    Legislation passed to implement the Constitution, or to adapt those implementations to changing conditions, broadens and, in subtle ways, changes the meanings given to the words of the Constitution. Up to a point, the rules and regulations of the many federal executive agencies have a similar effect.

    If an action of Congress or the agencies is challenged, however, it is the court system that ultimately decides whether these actions are permissible under the Constitution.

    The Supreme Court has indicated that once the Constitution has been extended to an area by Congress or the Courts , its coverage is irrevocable. To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say "what the law is". Courts established by the Constitution can regulate government under the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.

    First, they have jurisdiction over actions by an officer of government and state law. Second, federal courts may rule on whether coordinate branches of national government conform to the Constitution.

    Until the twentieth century, the Supreme Court of the United States may have been the only high tribunal in the world to use a court for constitutional interpretation of fundamental law, others generally depending on their national legislature. The basic theory of American Judicial review is summarized by constitutional legal scholars and historians as follows: It can change only by extraordinary legislative process of national proposal, then state ratification. The powers of all departments are limited to enumerated grants found in the Constitution.

    Courts are expected a to enforce provisions of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and b to refuse to enforce anything in conflict with it. In Convention. As to judicial review and the Congress, the first proposals by Madison Va and Wilson Pa called for a supreme court veto over national legislation. In this it resembled the system in New York, where the Constitution of called for a " Council of Revision " by the Governor and Justices of the state supreme court.

    Constitution of the United States - a highly accessible online version

    The Council would review and in a way, veto any passed legislation violating the spirit of the Constitution before it went into effect. The nationalist's proposal in Convention was defeated three times, and replaced by a presidential veto with Congressional over-ride.

    The justification for judicial review is to be explicitly found in the open ratifications held in the states and reported in their newspapers. In Federalist No. The preservation of the people's authority over legislatures rests "particularly with judges".

    The Supreme Court was initially made up of jurists who had been intimately connected with the framing of the Constitution and the establishment of its government as law. His service on the Court would extend 34 years over some of the most important rulings to help establish the nation the Constitution had begun.

    When John Marshall followed Oliver Ellsworth as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in , the federal judiciary had been established by the Judiciary Act , but there were few cases, and less prestige. But the Court's life, jurisdiction over state legislation was limited. The Marshall Court's landmark Barron v. Baltimore held that the Bill of Rights restricted only the federal government, and not the states. In the landmark Marbury v. Madison case, the Supreme Court asserted its authority of judicial review over Acts of Congress.

    Its findings were that Marbury and the others had a right to their commissions as judges in the District of Columbia. Marshall, writing the opinion for the majority, announced his discovered conflict between Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of and Article III. The Constitution enumerates powers of the judiciary to extend to cases arising "under the Constitution". Further, justices take a Constitutional oath to uphold it as "Supreme law of the land".

    Something of a crisis arose when, in and , the Supreme Court handed down twelve decisions voiding Acts of Congress relating to the New Deal. President Franklin D. Roosevelt then responded with his abortive " court packing plan ". Other proposals have suggested a Court super-majority to overturn Congressional legislation, or a Constitutional Amendment to require that the Justices retire at a specified age by law.

    To date, the Supreme Court's power of judicial review has persisted. The power of judicial review could not have been preserved long in a democracy unless it had been "wielded with a reasonable measure of judicial restraint , and with some attention, as Mr. Dooley said, to the election returns. The Court controls almost all of its business by choosing what cases to consider, writs of certiorari.

    In this way, it can avoid opinions on embarrassing or difficult cases. The Supreme Court limits itself by defining for itself what is a "justiciable question. Third, the Court requires a "personal interest", not one generally held, and a legally protected right must be immediately threatened by government action.

    Cases are not taken up if the litigant has no standing to sue. Simply having the money to sue and being injured by government action are not enough. These three procedural ways of dismissing cases have led critics to charge that the Supreme Court delays decisions by unduly insisting on technicalities in their "standards of litigability".

    They say cases are left unconsidered which are in the public interest, with genuine controversy, and resulting from good faith action. The Supreme Court balances several pressures to maintain its roles in national government. It seeks to be a co-equal branch of government, but its decrees must be enforceable.

    Constitution of the United States - Wikipedia

    The Court seeks to minimize situations where it asserts itself superior to either President or Congress, but federal officers must be held accountable. The Supreme Court assumes power to declare acts of Congress as unconstitutional but it self-limits its passing on constitutional questions. Justice Brandeis summarized four general guidelines that the Supreme Court uses to avoid constitutional decisions relating to Congress: If it does, a rule of constitutional law is formulated only as the precise facts in the case require.

    The Court will choose statutes or general law for the basis of its decision if it can without constitutional grounds.

    If it does, the Court will choose a constitutional construction of an Act of Congress, even if its constitutionality is seriously in doubt. Likewise with the Executive Department, Edwin Corwin observed that the Court does sometimes rebuff presidential pretensions, but it more often tries to rationalize them.

    Against Congress, an Act is merely "disallowed". In the executive case, exercising judicial review produces "some change in the external world" beyond the ordinary judicial sphere. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes addressed the Court's limitation when political process allowed future policy change, but a judicial ruling would "attribute finality". Political questions lack "satisfactory criteria for a judicial determination". John Marshall recognized that the president holds "important political powers" which as Executive privilege allows great discretion.

    This doctrine was applied in Court rulings on President Grant 's duty to enforce the law during Reconstruction. It extends to the sphere of foreign affairs. Justice Robert Jackson explained, Foreign affairs are inherently political, "wholly confided by our Constitution to the political departments of the government Critics of the Court object in two principal ways to self-restraint in judicial review, deferring as it does as a matter of doctrine to Acts of Congress and Presidential actions.

    Supreme Courts under the leadership of subsequent Chief Justices have also used judicial review to interpret the Constitution among individuals, states and federal branches.

    Salmon P. Chase was a Lincoln appointee, serving as Chief Justice from to His career encompassed service as a U. Senator and Governor of Ohio.

    He coined the slogan, "Free soil, free Labor, free men. Taney of Dred Scott case fame. The "Chase Court" is famous for Texas v. White , which asserted a permanent Union of indestructible states. Veazie Bank v. Fenno upheld the Civil War tax on state banknotes. Hepburn v. Griswold found parts of the Legal Tender Acts unconstitutional, though it was reversed under a late Supreme Court majority. Chase [p] Union, Reconstruction.

    William Howard Taft [q] commerce, incorporation. Earl Warren [r] due process, civil rights. William Rehnquist [s] federalism, privacy.

    A Progressive Republican from Ohio, he was a one-term President. Taft successfully sought the expansion of Court jurisdiction over non- states such as District of Columbia and Territories of Alaska and Hawaii.

    In Gitlow v. New York , the Court established the doctrine of " incorporation which applied the Bill of Rights to the states. Important cases included the Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. Olsen that upheld Congressional regulation of commerce. Olmstead v. United States allowed exclusion of evidence obtained without a warrant based on application of the 14th Amendment proscription against unreasonable searches. Wisconsin v.

    Illinois ruled the equitable power of the United States can impose positive action on a state to prevent its inaction from damaging another state. Earl Warren was an Eisenhower nominee, Chief Justice from to Warren's Republican career in the law reached from County Prosecutor, California state attorney general, and three consecutive terms as Governor.

    His programs stressed progressive efficiency, expanding state education, re-integrating returning veterans, infrastructure and highway construction. In , the Warren Court overturned a landmark Fuller Court ruling on the Fourteenth Amendment interpreting racial segregation as permissible in government and commerce providing "separate but equal" services.

    Warren built a coalition of Justices after that developed the idea of natural rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. Brown v. Board of Education banned segregation in public schools. Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims established Court ordered "one-man-one-vote". Bill of Rights Amendments were incorporated into the states.

    Due process was expanded in Gideon v. Wainwright and Miranda v. First Amendment rights were addressed in Griswold v. Connecticut concerning privacy, and Engel v. Vitale relative to free speech. William Rehnquist was a Reagan appointment to Chief Justice, serving from to While he would concur with overthrowing a state supreme court's decision, as in Bush v.

    Gore , he built a coalition of Justices after that developed the idea of federalism as provided for in the Tenth Amendment. Nevertheless, the Rehnquist Court was noted in the contemporary "culture wars" for overturning state laws relating to privacy prohibiting late-term abortions in Stenberg v. Carhart , prohibiting sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas , or ruling so as to protect free speech in Texas v. Johnson or affirmative action in Grutter v.

    There is a viewpoint that some Americans have come to see the documents of the Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights , as being a cornerstone of a type of civil religion.

    This is suggested by the prominent display of the Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, in massive, bronze-framed, bulletproof, moisture-controlled glass containers vacuum-sealed in a rotunda by day and in multi-ton bomb-proof vaults by night at the National Archives Building.

    The idea of displaying the documents struck one academic critic looking from the point of view of the or America as "idolatrous, and also curiously at odds with the values of the Revolution". But he saw imperfections and imagined that there could potentially be others, believing as he did that "institutions must advance also".

    Some commentators depict the multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian United States as held together by a political orthodoxy, in contrast with a nation state of people having more "natural" ties. The United States Constitution has been a notable model for governance around the world. Its international influence is found in similarities of phrasing and borrowed passages in other constitutions, as well as in the principles of the rule of law , separation of powers and recognition of individual rights.

    The American experience of fundamental law with amendments and judicial review has motivated constitutionalists at times when they were considering the possibilities for their nation's future. The Constitution did not originally define who was eligible to vote , allowing each state to determine who was eligible.

    In the early history of the U.

    Earlier written constitutions of independent states exist but were not adopted by bodies elected by the people, such as the Swedish Constitution of , adopted by the king, the Constitution of San Marino of which is the oldest surviving constitution in the world, or the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk , the first establishing separation of powers. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Supreme law of the United States of America. Voting Rights. Drafting and ratification timeline Convention Signing Federalism Republicanism.

    Federal Government. Constitution of the United States Law Taxation. Presidential elections Midterm elections Off-year elections. Political parties. Democratic Republican Third parties Libertarian Green.

    Other countries Atlas. See also: History of the United States Constitution. Main article: Articles of Confederation. Constitutional Convention United States. Further information: This section has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.

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