United States Constitution

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The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was adopted in its original form on September 17, 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and later ratified by state-selected delegates representing the people of the several states.<ref>[1],[2]</ref> When delegates in nine of the then thirteen states ratified the document, it marked the creation of a union of sovereign states, and a federal government to administer that union. It took effect on March 4, 1789, replacing the weaker, non-centralized union that existed under the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution of the United States is one of the oldest constitutions still in use (the oldest being that of the Republic of San Marino, which dates backs to 1600), and the oldest federal constitution currently in use.[3] The original transcribed copy of the document is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Contents

[edit] Background

[edit] Drafting and ratification

Ratification of the Constitution
  Date State Votes
Yes No
1 December 7, 1787 Delaware 30 0
2 December 12, 1787 Pennsylvania 46 23
3 December 18, 1787 New Jersey 38 0
4 January 2, 1788 Georgia 26 0
5 January 9, 1788 Connecticut 128 40
6 February 6, 1788 Massachusetts 187 168
7 April 28, 1788 Maryland 63 11
8 May 23, 1788 South Carolina 149 73
9 June 21, 1788 New Hampshire 57 47
10 June 25, 1788 Virginia 89 79
11 July 26, 1788 New York 30 27
12 November 21, 1789 North Carolina 194 77
13 May 29, 1790 Rhode Island 34 32

In September 1786, commissioners from five states met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce. They invited state representatives to convene in Philadelphia to discuss improvements to the federal government. After debate, the Confederation Congress endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation on February 21, 1787. Twelve states, Rhode Island being the only exception, accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787. The resolution calling the Convention specified its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution. The Philadelphia Convention voted to keep deliberations secret and decided to draft a new fundamental government design which eventually stipulated that only 9 of the 13 states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect (for the participating states). Congress unanimously submitted the proposal to the states and set the terms for representation.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was completed in Philadelphia, followed by a speech given by Benjamin Franklin. In it he talked about how he wasn't completely satisfied with it but that perfection would never fully be achieved. He accepted the document as it was and he wanted all those against the ratification of it to do the same.<ref>Benjamin Franklin, speech of September 17, 1787. (1943) “On the Faults of the Constitution”, Lewis Copeland: The World's Great Speeches, Book League Edition, New York: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 236-7. “On the whole, sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the convention who may still have objections to it, would, with me, on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”</ref> After fierce fights over ratification in many of the states, New Hampshire became that ninth state on June 21, 1788. Once the Congress of the Confederation received word of New Hampshire's ratification, it set a timetable for the start of operations under the Constitution, and, on March 4, 1789, the government under the Constitution began operations.

Image:Syng inkstand.jpg
The Syng inkstand, with which the Constitution was signed

[edit] Historical influences

In some instances historians disagree on the specific international influences on the overall development of the Constitution, possibly because of the large variety of sources that are available. Several of the ideas in the Constitution were new, and that a large number of ideas were drawn from the literature of republicanism, from the experiences of the 13 states, and from the British experience with mixed government. The most important influence from the European continent was from Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. who emphasized the need to have balanced forces pushing against each other to prevent tryanny. John Locke is known to be a mild influence, and the due process clause of the United States Constitution was partly based on common law stretching back to the Magna Carta of 1215.

Image:Detail of Magna Carta monument.JPG
In 1957 the American Bar Association acknowledged the debt American law and constitutionalism had to the Magna Carta by erecting a monument at Runnymede, England.

[edit] Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights were the ten amendments added to the Constitution in 1791, as the supporters had promised opponents during the debates of 1788.

The English Bill of Rights (1689) was an inspiration for the American Bill of Rights. For example, both require jury trials, contain a right to bear arms, and prohibit excessive bail and of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Many liberties protected by state constitutions and the Virginia Declaration of Rights were incorporated into the United States Bill of Rights.

[edit] Articles of the Constitution

The Constitution comprises seven original articles and twenty-seven amendments.

[edit] Preamble

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The Preamble 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 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.

The Preamble neither grants any powers nor inhibits any actions; it only explains the rationale behind the Constitution. The preamble is a basic statement of purpose that precedes the constitution. The Preamble, especially the first three words ("We the people"), is one of the most quoted and referenced sections of the Constitution. Indeed, they are, perhaps, the three most important words in the constitution, as they denote that the constitution came not from a king, or an emperor, but from the people themselves.

[edit] Article One: Legislative power

Article One establishes the legislative branch of government, U.S. Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Article establishes the manner of election and qualifications of members of each House. In addition, it provides for free debate in congress and limits self-serving behavior of congressmen, outlines legislative procedure and indicates the powers of the legislative branch. There is a debate as to whether the powers listed in Article 1 Section 8 are a list of enumerated powers. These powers may also be interpreted as a list of powers formerly either executive or judicial in nature, that have been explicitly granted to the U.S. Congress. This interpretation may be further supported by a broad definition of both the commerce clause, and the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution. The argument for enumerated powers can be traced back to 1819 McCulloch v. Maryland United States Supreme Court ruling. Finally, it establishes limits on federal and state legislative power. </td></tr></table>

[edit] Article Two: Executive power

Article Two describes the presidency (the executive branch): procedures for the selection of the president, qualifications for office, the oath to be affirmed and the powers and duties of the office. It also provides for the office of Vice President of the United States, and specifies that the Vice President succeeds to the presidency if the President is incapacitated, dies, or resigns, although whether this succession was on an acting or permanent basis was left unclear. In practice, this has always been treated as succession, and the 25th Amendment provides explicitly for succession.

Article Two also provides for the impeachment and removal from office of civil officers (the President, Vice President, judges, and others).

[edit] Article Three: Judicial power

Article Three describes the court system (the judicial branch), including the Supreme Court. The article requires that there be one court called the Supreme Court; Congress, at its discretion, can create lower courts, whose judgments and orders are reviewable by the Supreme Court. Article Three also requires trial by jury in all criminal cases, defines the crime of treason, and charges Congress with providing for a punishment for it, while imposing limits on that punishment.

[edit] Article Four: States' powers and limits

Article Four describes the relationship between the states and the Federal government, and amongst the states. For instance, it requires states to give "full faith and credit" to the public acts, records and court proceedings of the other states. Congress is permitted to regulate the manner in which proof of such acts, records or proceedings may be admitted. The "privileges and immunities" clause prohibits state governments from discriminating against citizens of other states in favor of resident citizens (e.g., having tougher penalties for residents of Ohio convicted of crimes within Michigan). It also establishes extradition between the states, as well as laying down a legal basis for freedom of movement and travel amongst the states. Today, this provision is sometimes taken for granted, especially by citizens who live near state borders; but in the days of the Articles of Confederation, crossing state lines was often a much more arduous (and costly) process. Article Four also provides for the creation and admission of new states. The Territorial Clause gives Congress the power to make rules for disposing of Federal property and governing non-state territories of the United States. Finally, the fourth section of Article Four requires the United States to guarantee to each state a republican form of government, and to protect the states from invasion and violence.

[edit] Article Five: Process of amendment

Article Five describes the process necessary to amend the Constitution. It establishes two methods of proposing amendments: by Congress or by a national convention requested by the states. Under the first method, Congress can propose an amendment by a two-thirds vote (of a quorum, not necessarily of the entire body) of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. Under the second method, two-thirds (2/3) of the state legislatures may convene and "apply" to Congress to hold a national convention, whereupon Congress must call such a convention for the purpose of considering amendments. As of mid-2006, only the first method (proposal by Congress) has been used.

Once proposed—whether submitted by a national convention or by Congress—amendments must then be ratified by three-fourths (3/4) of the states to take effect. Article Five gives Congress the option of requiring ratification by state legislatures or by special conventions assembled in the states. The convention method of ratification has been used only once (to approve the 21st Amendment). Article Five currently places only one limitation on the amending power—that no amendment can deprive a state of its equal representation in the Senate without that state's consent.

[edit] Article Six: Federal power

Article Six establishes the Constitution, and the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it, to be the supreme law of the land, and that "the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the laws or constitutions of any state notwithstanding." It also validates national debt created under the Articles of Confederation and requires that all legislators, federal officers, and judges take oaths or affirmations to "support" the Constitution. This means that the states' constitutions and laws should not conflict with the laws of the federal constitution-- and that in case of a conflict, state judges are legally bound to honor the federal laws and constitution over those of any state.

Article Six also states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States".

[edit] Article Seven: Ratification

Article Seven sets forth the requirements for ratification of the Constitution. The Constitution would not take effect until at least nine states had ratified the Constitution in state conventions specially convened for that purpose. (See above Drafting and ratification.)

[edit] Provisions for amendment

The authors of the Constitution were clearly aware that changes would be necessary from time to time if the Constitution was to endure and cope with the effects of the anticipated growth of the nation. However, they were also conscious that such change should not be easy, lest it permit ill-conceived and hastily passed amendments. Balancing this, they also wanted to ensure that an overly rigid requirement of unanimity would not block action desired by the vast majority of the population. Their solution was to devise a dual process by which the Constitution could be altered.

Unlike most constitutions, amendments to the U.S. constitution are appended to the existing body of the text, rather than being revisions of or insertions into the main articles. There is no provision for expunging from the text obsolete or rescinded provisions.

Some people feel that demographic changes in the U.S.—specifically the great disparity in population between states—have made the Constitution too difficult to amend, with states representing as little as 4% of the population theoretically able to block an amendment desired by over 90% of Americans; others feel that it is unlikely that such an extreme result would occur. However, any proposals to change this would necessarily involve amending the Constitution itself, something of a Catch-22.

Aside from the direct process of amending the Constitution, the practical effect of its provisions may be altered by judicial decision. The United States is a common law country, and courts follow the precedents established in prior cases. However, when a Supreme Court decision clarifies the application of a part of the Constitution to existing law, the effect is to establish the meaning of that part for all practical purposes. Not long after adoption of the Constitution, in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court established the doctrine of judicial review, which is the power of the Court to examine legislation and other acts of Congress and to decide their constitutionality. The doctrine also embraces the power of the Court to explain the meaning of various sections of the Constitution as they apply to particular cases brought before the Court. Since such cases will reflect changing legal, political, economic, and social conditions, this provides a mechanism, in practice, for adjusting the Constitution without needing to amend its text. Over the years, a series of Court decisions, on issues ranging from governmental regulation of radio and television to the rights of the accused in criminal cases, has effected a change in the way many Constitutional clauses are interpreted, without amendment to the actual text of the Constitution.

Congressional legislation, passed to implement provisions of the Constitution or to adapt those implementations to changing conditions, also 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 agencies of the federal government have a similar effect. In case of objection, the test in both cases is whether, in the opinion of the courts, such legislation and rules conform with the meanings given to the words of the Constitution.

[edit] Amendments

The Constitution has a total of 27 amendments. The first ten, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified simultaneously. The following seventeen were ratified separately.

[edit] The Bill of Rights (1–10)

Image:Bill of Rights Pg1of1 AC.jpg
United States Bill of Rights currently housed in the National Archives

The Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Those amendments were adopted between 1789 and 1791, and all relate to limiting the power of the federal government. They were added in response to criticisms of the Constitution by the state ratification conventions and by prominent individuals such as Thomas Jefferson (who was not a delegate to the Constitutional Convention). These critics argued that without further restraints, the strong central government would become tyrannical. The amendments were proposed by Congress as part of a block of twelve in September 1789. By December 1791 a sufficient number of states had ratified ten of the twelve proposals, and the Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution.

It is commonly understood that the Bill of Rights was not originally intended to apply to the states, though except where amendments refer specifically to the Federal Government or a branch thereof (as in the first amendment, under which some states in the early years of the nation officially established a religion), there is no such delineation in the text itself. Nevertheless, a general interpretation of inapplicability to the states remained until 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was passed, which stated, in part, that:

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.

The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to extend most, but not all, parts of the Bill of Rights to the states. Nevertheless, the balance of state and federal power has remained a battle in the Supreme Court.

The amendments that became the Bill of Rights were actually the last ten of the twelve amendments proposed in 1789. The second of the twelve proposed amendments, regarding the compensation of members of Congress, remained unratified until 1992, when the legislatures of enough states finally approved it and, as a result, it became the Twenty-seventh Amendment despite more than two centuries of pendency. The first of the twelve—still technically pending before the state legislatures for ratification—pertains to the apportionment of the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. The most recent state whose lawmakers are known to have ratified this proposal is Kentucky in 1792 during that commonwealth's first month of statehood.

  • Second Amendment: declares the necessity for "a well regulated militia," and prohibits infringement of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
  • Third Amendment: prohibits the government from using private homes as quarters for soldiers without the consent of the owners. The only existing case law regarding this amendment is a lower court decision in the case of Engblom v. Carey. [4]
  • Fourth Amendment: guards against searches, arrests, and seizures of property without a specific warrant or a "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed. Some rights to privacy have been inferred from this amendment and others by the Supreme Court.
  • Fifth Amendment: forbids trial for a major crime except after indictment by a grand jury; prohibits repeated trials for the same offense after an acquittal (except in certain very limited circumstances); forbids punishment without due process of law; and provides that an accused person may not be compelled to testify against himself (this is also known as "Taking the fifth" or "Pleading the fifth"). This is regarded as the "rights of the accused" amendment. It also prohibits government from taking private property without "just compensation," the basis of eminent domain in the United States.
  • Sixth Amendment: guarantees a speedy public trial for criminal offenses. It requires trial by a jury (of peers), guarantees the right to legal counsel for the accused, and guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused. It also guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against him. The Sixth Amendment has several court cases associated with it, including Powell v. Alabama, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, Gideon v. Wainwright, and Crawford v. Washington. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the fifth amendment prohibition on forced self incrimination and the sixth amendment clause on right to counsel were to be made known to all persons placed under arrest, and these clauses have become known as the Miranda rights.
  • Ninth Amendment: declares that the listing of individual rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not meant to be comprehensive; and that the people have other rights not specifically mentioned, but rather retained elsewhere by the people.
  • Tenth Amendment: provides that powers that the Constitution does not delegate to the United States and does not prohibit the states from exercising, are "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

[edit] Subsequent amendments (11–27)

Amendments to the Constitution subsequent to the Bill of Rights cover many subjects. The majority of the seventeen later amendments stem from continued efforts to expand individual civil or political liberties, while a few are concerned with modifying the basic governmental structure drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. Although the United States Constitution has been amended a total of 17 times, only 16 of the amendments are currently used because the 21st amendment supersedes the 18th.

[edit] Unratified amendments

See also: Proposals for amendments to the United States Constitution and List of unsuccessful attempts to amend the U.S. Constitution

Over 10,000 Constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress since 1789; in a typical Congressional year in the last several decades, between 100 and 200 are offered. Most of these concepts never get out of Congressional committee, much less get proposed by the Congress for ratification. Backers of some amendments have attempted the alternative, and thus-far never-utilized, method mentioned in Article Five. In two instances—reapportionment in the 1960s and a balanced federal budget during the 1970s and 1980s—these attempts have come within just two state legislative "applications" of triggering that alternative method.

Of the thirty-three amendments that have been proposed by Congress, six have failed ratification by the required three-quarters of the state legislatures—and four of those six are still technically pending before state lawmakers (see Coleman v. Miller). Starting with the 18th amendment, each proposed amendment (except for the 19th Amendment and for the still-pending Child Labor Amendment of 1924) has specified a deadline for passage. The following are the unratified amendments:

  • The Congressional Apportionment Amendment proposed by the 1st Congress on September 25, 1789, defined a formula for how many members there would be in the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. Ratified by eleven states, the last being Kentucky in June 1792 (Kentucky's initial month of statehood), this amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. In principle it may yet be ratified, though as written it became moot when the population of the United States reached ten million.
  • The so-called missing thirteenth amendment, or "Titles of Nobility Amendment" (TONA), proposed by the 11th Congress on May 1, 1810, would have ended the citizenship of any American accepting "any Title of Nobility or Honour" from any foreign power. Some maintain that the amendment was actually ratified by the legislatures of enough states, and that a conspiracy has suppressed it, but this has been thoroughly debunked.[5] Known to have been ratified by lawmakers in twelve states, the last in 1812, this amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. It may yet be ratified.
  • The Corwin amendment, proposed by the 36th Congress on March 2, 1861, would have forbidden any attempt to subsequently amend the Constitution to empower the Federal government to "abolish or interfere" with the "domestic institutions" of the states (a delicate way of referring to slavery). It was ratified by only Ohio and Maryland lawmakers before the outbreak of the Civil War. Illinois lawmakers—sitting as a state constitutional convention at the time—likewise approved it, but that action is of questionable validity. The proposed amendment contains no expiration date for ratification and may yet be ratified. However, adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments after the Civil War likely means that the amendment would be ineffective if adopted.
  • A child labor amendment proposed by the 68th Congress on June 2, 1924, which stipulates: "The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age." This amendment is now moot, since subsequent federal child labor laws have uniformly been upheld as a valid exercise of Congress' powers under the commerce clause. This amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. It may yet be ratified.

Properly placed in a separate category from the other four constitutional amendments that Congress proposed to the states, but which not enough states have approved, are the following two offerings which—because of deadlines—are no longer subject to ratification.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, which reads in pertinent part "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Proposed by the 92nd Congress on March 22, 1972, it was ratified by the legislatures of 35 states, and expired on either March 22, 1979, or on June 30, 1982, depending upon one's point of view of a controversial three-year extension of the ratification deadline, which was passed by the 95th Congress in 1978. Of the 35 states ratifying it, four later rescinded their ratifications prior to the extended ratification period which commenced March 23, 1979 and a fifth—while not going so far as to actually rescind its earlier ratification—adopted a resolution stipulating that its approval would not extend beyond March 22, 1979. There continues to be diversity of opinion as to whether such reversals are valid; no court has ruled on the question, including the Supreme Court. But a precedent against the validity of rescission was first established during the ratification process of the 14th Amendment when Ohio and New Jersey rescinded their earlier approvals, but yet were counted as ratifying states when the 14th Amendment was ultimately proclaimed part of the Constitution in 1868.
  • The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment was proposed by the 95th Congress on August 22, 1978. Had it been ratified, it would have granted to Washington, D.C., two Senators and at least one member of the House of Representatives as though the District of Columbia were a state. Ratified by the legislatures of only 16 states—less than half of the required 38—the proposed amendment expired on August 22, 1985.

There are currently only a few proposals for amendments which have entered mainstream political debate. These include the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, the Balanced Budget Amendment, and the Flag-Burning Amendment.

[edit] See also

Founding Documents
of the United States
Declaration of Independence (1776)
Articles of Confederation (1777)
Constitution (1787)
Bill of Rights (1789)

[edit] General

[edit] Related documents

[edit] References

[edit] Primary sources

  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part One: September 1787 to February 1788 (The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-42-9
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part Two: January to August 1788 (The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-64-X

[edit] Reference Books

  • Fallon, Richard H. (2004). The Dynamic Constitution: An Introduction to American Constitutional Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84094-5.
  • Levy, Leonard W., ed. (2000). Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, 2nd Edition, New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-864880-3.
  • US Law Dictionary

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Primary sources

  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part One: September 1787 to February 1788 (The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-42-9
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part Two: January to August 1788 (The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-64-X
  • Garvey, John H. ed. Modern Constitutional Theory: A Reader 5th ed 2004; 820pp.
  • Mason, Alpheus Thomas and Donald Grier Stephenson, ed. American Constitutional Law: Introductory Essays and Selected Cases (14th Edition) (2004)
  • Tribe, Laurence H. American Constitutional Law (1999)

[edit] Reference Books

  • Hall, Kermit, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Oxford U. Press, 1992. 1032 pp.
  • Levy, Leonard W. et al., ed. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. 5 vol; 1992; 3000 pp
  • US Law Dictionary

[edit] Secondary sources

  • Amar, Akhil Reed (2005). “In the Beginning”, America's Constitution: A Biography. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6262-4.
  • Amar, Akhil Reed. The Constitution and Criminal Procedure. Yale U. Press, 1998. 272 pp.
  • Anastaplo, George, "Reflections on Constitutional Law" 2006 ISBN 0-8131-9156-4
  • Beard, Charles. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, 1913.
  • Countryman, Edward, ed. What Did the Constitution Mean to Early Americans.Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. xii + 169 pp. online review ISBN 0-312-18262-7.
  • Edling, Max M. (2003). A Revolution in Favor of Government: Origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514870-3.
  • Ellis, Joseph (2002). Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Vintage. ISBN 0-375-70524-4.
  • Ely, James W., Jr. The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights. Oxford U. Press, 1992. 193 pp.
  • Fallon, Richard H. (2004). The Dynamic Constitution: An Introduction to American Constitutional Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84094-5.
  • Finkelman, Paul "Affirmative Action for the Master Class: The Creation of the Proslavery Constitution," University of Akron Law Review 32 (No. 3, 1999): 423-70.
  • Finkelman, Paul Slavery and the Founders: Race and Slavery in the Age of Jefferson (M.E. Sharpe, 1996);
  • Finkelman, Paul "Slavery and the Constitution: Making a Covenant with Death," in Richard R. Beeman, Stephen Botein, and Edward C., Carter, II, eds., Beyond Confederation: Origins of the Constitution and American National Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 1987);
  • Hoffer, Peter Charles. The Law's Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America U. of North Carolina Press, 1990. 301 pp.
  • Irons, Peter. A People's History of the Supreme Court. 2000. 542 pp.
  • Kammen, Michael (1986). A Machine that Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-52905-7.
  • Kelly, Alfred Hinsey; Harbison, Winfred Audif; Belz, Herman (1991). The American Constitution: its origins and development, 7th edition, New York: Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-96119-2.
  • Kersch, Ken I. Constructing Civil Liberties: Discontinuities in the Development of American Constitutional Law. Cambridge U. Press, 2004. 392 pp.
  • Kyvig, David E. Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1776-1995. U. Press of Kansas, 1996. 604 pp.
  • Levin, Daniel Lessard. Representing Popular Sovereignty: The Constitution in American Political Culture. State U. of New York Press., 1999. 283 pp.
  • Licht, Robert A., ed. The Framers and Fundamental Rights. American Enterprise Inst. Press, 1991. 194 pp.
  • Marshall, Thurgood, "The Constitution: A Living Document," Howard Law Journal 1987: 623-28.
  • Powell, H. Jefferson. A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics. U. of Chicago Press, 2002. 251 pp.
  • Rakove, Jack N. Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. Knopf, 1996. 455 pp.
  • Sandoz, Ellis. A Government of Laws: Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding. Louisiana State U. Press, 1990. 259 pp.
  • Sheldon, Charles H. Essentials of Constitutional Law: The Supreme Court and the Fundamental Law (2001) 208 pp
  • VanBurkleo, Sandra F.; Hall, Kermit L.; and Kaczorowski, Robert J., eds. Constitutionalism and American Culture: Writing the New Constitutional History. U. Press of Kansas, 2002. 464 pp.
  • Template:Cite journal
  • Smith, Jean Edward; Levine, Herbert M. (1988). Civil Liberties & Civil Rights Debated. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Smith, Jean Edward (1989). The Constitution and American Foreign Policy. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.
  • White, G. Edward. The Constitution and the New Deal.Harvard U. Press, 2000. 385 pp.
  • Wiecek, William M., "The Witch at the Christening: Slavery and the Constitution's Origins," Leonard W. Levy and Dennis J. Mahoney, eds., The Framing and Ratification of the Constitution (Macmillan, 1987), 178-84.
  • Wiecek, William M., "'The Blessings of Liberty': Slavery in the American Constitutional Order," in Robert A. Goldman and Art Kaufman, eds., Slavery and Its Consequences: The Constitution, Equality, and Race (American Enterprise Institute, 1988), 23-34.

[edit] Footnotes

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[edit] External links

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[edit] National Archives

[edit] Official U.S. government sources

[edit] Non-government web sites

  United States Constitution Complete text at WikiSource

Original text: Preamble | Article 1 | Article 2 | Article 3 | Article 4 | Article 5 | Article 6 | Article 7

Amendments: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27
 Formation  History of the Constitution | Articles of Confederation | Annapolis Convention | Philadelphia Convention | New Jersey Plan | Virginia Plan | Connecticut Compromise | Signatories
 Adoption  Massachusetts Compromise | Federalist Papers
 Amendments  Bill of Rights | Ratified | Proposed | Unsuccessful | Conventions to propose | State ratifying conventions
 Clauses  Case or controversy | Commerce | Commerce (Dormant) | Contract | Copyright | Due Process | Equal Protection | Establishment | Free Exercise | Full Faith and Credit | Impeachment | Natural–born citizen | Necessary and Proper | No Religious Test | Presentment | Privileges and Immunities (Art. IV) | Privileges or Immunities (14th Amend.) | Speech or Debate | Supremacy | Suspension | Taxing and Spending | Territorial | War Powers
 Interpretation  Congressional power of enforcement | Double jeopardy | Enumerated powers | Incorporation of the Bill of Rights | Nondelegation | Preemption | Separation of church and state | Separation of powers | Constitutional theory
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ca:Constitució dels Estats Units da:USA's forfatning de:Verfassung der Vereinigten Staaten es:Constitución de los Estados Unidos de América eo:Usona Konstitucio fr:Constitution des États-Unis d'Amérique id:Konstitusi Amerika Serikat it:Costituzione degli Stati Uniti d'America he:חוקת ארצות הברית ka:ამერიკის შეერთებული შტატების კონსტიტუცია hu:Az Amerikai Egyesült Államok Alkotmánya nl:Grondwet van de Verenigde Staten ja:アメリカ合衆国憲法 no:USAs grunnlov pl:Konstytucja Stanów Zjednoczonych pt:Constituição dos Estados Unidos da América ro:Constituţia Statelor Unite ale Americii ru:Конституция США simple:United States Constitution fi:Yhdysvaltain perustuslaki sv:USA:s konstitution vi:Hiến pháp Hoa Kỳ

zh:美国宪法

United States Constitution

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