The Constitution Explained Essay

2407 words - 10 pages

The Constitution is often hailed as a marvel of brevity and of clarity. It was, however, written in the 18th century, and many of the ideas, concepts, words, phrases, and euphemisms seem odd to us today, if not down right foreign. Some of the more obscure words are defined in The Glossary.But what of the Constitution itself? What does it mean? What does each article, each section, say?This page is like a synopsis or summary of the Constitution, article by article, amendment by amendment. This should not be taken as a substitute for the Constitution, but more like a study guide.The Preamble to the Constitution has no force in law; instead, it establishes the "Why" of the Constitution. Why is this document in existence? It reflects the desires of the Framers to improve on the government they currently had (to be "more perfect" than the Articles of Confederation), to ensure that that government would be just, and would protect its citizens from internal strife and from attack from the outside. It would be of benefit to the people, rather than to its detriment. And, perhaps as importantly, it intended to do the same for the future generations of Americans.The ArticlesArticle 1 establishes the first of the three branches of the government, the Legislature.*Section 1 establishes the name of the Legislature to be The Congress, a bicameral, or two-part, body.*Section 2 defines the House of Representatives, known as the lower house of Congress. It establishes a few minimum requirements, like a 25-year-old age limit, and establishes that the people themselves will elect the members for two years each. The members of the House are divided among the states proportionally, or according to size, giving more populous states more representatives in the House. The leader of the House is the Speaker of the House, chosen by the members.*Section 3 defines the upper house of Congress, the Senate. Again, it establishes some minimum requirements, such as a 30-year-old age limit. Senators were originally appointed by the legislatures of the individual states, though this later changed. They serve for six years each. Each state has equal suffrage in the Senate, meaning that each state has the exact same number of Senators, two each, regardless of the population. This Section introduces the Vice-President, who is the leader of the Senate (called the President of the Senate); the Vice-President does not vote unless there is a tie.*Section 4 says that each state may establish its own methods for electing members of the Congress, and mandates, or requires, that Congress must meet at least once per year.*Section5 says that Congress must have a minimum number of members present in order to meet, and that it may set fines for members who do not show up. It says that members may be expelled, that each house must keep a journal to record proceedings and votes, and that neither house can adjourn without the permission of the other.*Section 6 establishes that members of Congress...

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