Tag: constitution (page 1 of 3)

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff – 4th Amendment vs. 10th Amendment

I’ve never met Mark Shurtleff, the Attorney General for the state of Utah, but lately he’s shown up in news items that I’ve read. Earlier it was over HB 150, a bill to provide warrantless data request powers to the state for customer information from ISPs:

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, at the request of state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff …

The bill would give administrative subpoena power to the A.G. – — without getting a judge’s OK — to obtain information such as e-mails and phone numbers when investigating child kidnapping or cyberstalking, which occurs over the Internet. Daw said that these subpoena powers already exist when investigating sex crimes against minors.

http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_14479120

I’m all for going after the bad guys. Go get a warrant and then track them down. If you don’t have enough to get a warrant then do some more digging. Skipping over sight provided by a warrant is a bad idea.

The mission of the Utah Attorney General is:

The mission of the Office of the Utah Attorney General is to uphold the constitutions of the United States and of Utah, enforce the law, provide counsel to state agencies and public officials, to work with law enforcement and protect the interests of Utah, its people, environment and resources.

http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/44.html

I’m not very impressed with Mark Shurtleff’s choice to throw the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution under a bus, even if it is in the name of trying to catch bad guys.

So it felt like a giant salt lick of hypocrisy when I came across his video about the 10th Amendment in regards to the just passed health care reform bill:

http://utahag.blogspot.com/2010/03/line-in-sand-for-states-rights.html

It’s hard to imagine that anyone can take you seriously when you stomp on one element of the US Constitution in an effort to increase your own power and then get upset when you think someone else is doing the same thing.

I don’t think I have enough details about the health care bill and the process used to make an informed determination on whether Shurtleff has a valid point or not. But I know this much for sure, after his involvement (he requested it) in H.B. 150, I don’t trust any of his opinions on the US Constitution. That is the real tragedy out of all of this, even if he’s in the right, I wouldn’t trust him.

The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 25-27

Amendment 25:

Section 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit 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, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting 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.

Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967. Article II, section 1, of the Constitution was affected by the 25th amendment.

Outlines in greater detail the order of succession to the office of President. If the President can also turn things over to the Vice-President if needed, which is handy if the President is going to have major surgery and be incapacitated for some period of time.

Amendment 26:

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971. Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Changes the minimum voting age to 18.

Amendment 27:

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

Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

As I’ve noted previously, those dates are not typos, it really did take more than 200 years for this amendment to be ratified. This is also the only amendment to the Constitution to have been added in my life time. I missed number 26 by just a few years.

The Constitution, cover to cover

With all of the amendments reviewed I’ve now read the entire Constitution. It’s been an interesting experience to, filled with pleasant surprises. And if we add any more I’ll be sure to follow up with a new post.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 21-24

Amendment 21:

Section 1.
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.
The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

The 18th Amendment lasted nearly 15 years. Given the culture of drinking in most of this country I’m surprised that the 18th Amendment ever passed in the first place.

Amendment 22:

Section 1.
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 President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by 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.

Section 2.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

Term limit for the President is set to 2. Unless this changes Franklin D. Roosevelt will be the only President to have served more than 2 terms.

Amendment 23:

Section 1.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as 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.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.

Citizens in Washington, D.C. get to participate in the Electoral College.

Amendment 24:

Section 1.
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 poll tax or other tax.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.

This was an effort to close loopholes that some areas has instituted to prevent parts of the population from voting. It’s unfortunate that such a specific clause is even needed, the idea of a poll tax should have easily shot down based on the already established laws of the land.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 18-20

Amendment 18:

Section 1.
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by amendment 21.

As someone who doesn’t drink I’ve always had an odd curiosity about this amendment. Clearly this didn’t stop people from making and transporting liquor, but imagine what the penalty for drunk driving would be today if this was still around :-)

Honestly I’ve always been surprised that this ever passed in the first place. In so many places drinking liquor is a cultural norm, I don’t know how they managed to get the votes necessary to pass it.

Amendment 19:

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.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

Here again the ranks of potential voters in the U.S. was expanded. Previously individual states had granted women the right to vote and some areas prior to being states allowed women to vote as well. Utah has a particularly usual history in the area in that the Territorial Legislature has granted women the right to vote, but then the federal government specifically repealed it in the Edmunds–Tucker Act. After Utah became a state they adopted a constitution that restored this right.

Amendment 20:

Section 1.
The terms of the President and the 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.

Section 2.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933. Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.

I wonder why the new members of Congress start their job before the President and Vice-President?

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 14-17

Amendment 14:

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,1 and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

1- Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868. Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Who was considered to the be a natural born U.S. citizen was expanded some what. Now it was limited to just the states, but any place under U.S. jurisdiction. Section 4 is interesting, we basically declared certain debts null and void.

Amendment 15:

Section 1.
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 race, color, or previous condition of servitude–

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

You could no longer prevent some one from voting just because they were a different race, color or previously a slave.

Amendment 16:

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.

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913. Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

I don’t see how folks who claim that the government isn’t allowed to collect income tax reconcile their argument with the 16th Amendment.

Amendment 17:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913. Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The voting on of Senators is changed from State Legislatures to the people. That seems like a good move, although I was surprised to find out this change didn’t happen until the early 1900s.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-13

Amendment 11:

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.

Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795. Article III, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 11.

Amendment 12:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. 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 case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]1 The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

1- Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.

Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804. A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.

Amendment 13:

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865. A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Slavery is formally forbidden in the United States. Previously Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but it wasn’t until the 13th Amendment that slavery was outlawed in all states.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: The Bill of Rights

The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are known as The Bill of Rights and were ratified on December 15, 1791.

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights:

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

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.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution

I didn’t even know The Bill of Rights had a preamble.

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.

No national religion allowed and no laws preventing your ability to practice your religion. Free speech and press are not to be taken away. Folks can get together in groups and also have the right to appeal to the government for problems. No doubt entire books have been written on the subject of the first amendment. I’m still in awe how less than 50 words has been the basis for so many texts, arguments and law suits.

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.

Until I read the actual text I didn’t realize how potentially confusing the ‘right to bear arms’ could be. A few places have tried to out right ban gun ownership, to my knowledge none of them have successfully held up in court. That said the courts have certainly allowed restrictions on gun owners.

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.

I wonder when the last time this came into play. I don’t recall the last time a soldier attempted to stay in a private residence, presumably by force.

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.

This is an area that has had trouble as technology goes forward. Is my email part of my ‘papers, and effects’? What about my DNA? When spying on Internet traffic how do we ensure that only the ‘persons or things to be seized’ are looked at?

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.

‘I take the fifth’ is a well known phrase, which comes from the ‘nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself’ clause of this amendment. Interesting that to note that it doesn’t say under what conditions private property can be taken, only that it must be donw in the ‘due process of law’ and with ‘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.

Modern communication technology has made getting an ‘impartial jury’ a bit harder. With the tremendous amount of news coverage available today it can be hard not to be tainted in one way or another about high profile cases.

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.

Interesting that they pin and exact amount here. With inflation over the decades pretty much every issue would involve an amount greater than $20.

Amendment VIII:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

I confess to not fully understanding how bail works beyond simply being a way for you to not sit in jail while your trial is pending. In the area of ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ I suspect entire books have been written. It does seem to imply that we try to be decent people even when dealing with those who have done horrible things.

Amendment IX:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This looks like an attempt to create a default condition for laws and rights. Just because it’s not specifically mentioned as a right in the Constitution should not be seen as being illegal.

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.

This takes the previous amendment on step further. States essentially get to be semi-sovereign in establishing their own rights/laws as long as they don’t try to supersede the Constitution.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Article VII

Article VII:

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

The Word, “the,” being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, the Word “Thirty” being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words “is tried” being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word “the” being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.

Attest William Jackson Secretary

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

To get things going it took 9 states to ratify the new Constitution. But that second paragraph, I really have no idea what the point of that is.

Go check out the Constitution transcript, they’ve got links to information about each of the signers to the document. There were also delegates to the convention that did not sign the new Constitution, there’s links to more information about them on the Founding Fathers page.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Article VI

Article VI:

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

When the Articles of Confederation ceased to be the ruling document of the land we agreed to still pay our debts.

Interesting language about treaties in the second paragraph. I’d wondered what their official legal status was since they don’t go through nearly the same amount work and review involved in amending the Constitution.

The final paragraph contains our semi-famous line about religious qualifications for public office or appointment. Pretty amazing how we’re able to milk so much out of just 20 words.

Other Constitution posts.

The Constitution of the United States: Article V

Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Amending the Constitution is a deliberately difficult process, that requires a large number of people to be involved. Takes a 2/3 vote in each house of Congress and ratification by 3/4 of the States.

Just how slow can this process be? Let’s take a look at the last Amendment to be added, number 27. It was first proposed in 1789 and completed ratification in 1992. Those dates are not typos, it really did take more than 200 years for the process to be completed.

That’s an extreme example, Amendment 26 took less than 6 months to become part of the Constitution.

Other Constitution posts.

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