Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thoughts on the Constitution 4

Overview of the Articles of the Constitution

The Constitution, exclusive of the Bill of Rights and later amendments, consists of seven articles. The first four of these are subdivided into sections. (See below for an outline of the Articles.)
The first three articles deal with the basic powers of government:  legislative (Art. 1), executive (Art. 2), and judicial (Art. 3). These three powers of government ultimately belong to God.
For the Lord is our judge [judicial power]; the Lord is our lawgiver [legislative power]; the Lord is our king [executive power]; he will save us (Isaiah 33:22)
The Constitution provides that these three powers are to be distributed into three separate branches of the federal government. In this arrangement, the Framers’ clearly reflect the ideas of Baron de Montesquieu. In his Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu called for “the separation of powers” as a means of avoiding the tyranny that so often accompanies the concentration of power into the hands of only one man. In a traditional monarchy, all power resides in the king. This is a potentially good and efficient form of government if the king is himself wise and good. Otherwise it has an equal potential to become a tyranny. Unfortunately, history confirms the observation of Lord Acton that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Acton was wise to say only that power tends to corrupt. It does not always do so, but it happens often enough that the Framers sought to distribute the powers of government so broadly that it would be impossible for a single man or for a small group of men to seize control of the government and tyrannize the people.
The Founders were convinced that it was just as dangerous to entrust all three powers of government to a single of body of men as it was to entrust them to just one man. Therefore they divided the powers of government so that they would be exercised by different men holding different offices. This distribution of power is an obstacle that stands in the way of evil men who might wish to abuse their power.

Outline of the Articles of the Constitution
Article One:  Legislative Power
Section 1:    All legislative power granted to Congress (Senate/House of Reps.)
Section 2:    Representatives:  Terms, qualifications, number, vacancies
Section 3:    Senate:  Terms, qualifications, number, vacancies
Section 4:    Times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Reps.
Section 5:    Each house determines its own rules of proceedings
Section 6:    Compensation
Section 7:    Procedure for passing of legislation
Section 8:    Powers of Congress
Section 9:    Slave trade; Writ of Habeas Corpus; Bill of Attainder; ex post facto laws; capitation; exports; interstate imports and exports; proper accounting of expenses; titles of nobility; gifts from foreign states
Section 10:  Restrictions on the states with respect to coining money, taxes, trade and war
Article Two:  Executive Power
Section 1:    Executive power vested in the President; electoral system; age and residence and citizen qualifications; vacancy; compensation; oath of office
Section 2:    Commander in Chief; reprieves and pardons; making Treaties; appoint ambassadors, Judges of the Supreme Court
Section 3:    State of the Union; receiving ambassadors and other public Ministers; take care that the Laws be faithfully executed
Section 4:    Subject to impeachment
Article Three:  Judicial Power
Section 1:    Judicial power vested in one supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish
Section 2:    Jurisdiction
Section 3:    Treason
Article Four:  Relation of the States to Each Other and of the Citizens of the States to other States
Section 1:    Full faith and credit
Section 2:    Citizens of each State entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states
Section 3:    Formation of new States
Section 4:    States guaranteed a republican form of government
Article Five:  Amending the Constitution
Article Six:  Debts and obligations at the time of ratification; Constitution the supreme law of the land; oath to support the Constitution; nor religious test
Article Seven:  Ratification

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