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Review of The United States Constitution’s Articles

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Article Five, clause two of the United States Constitution

states, “under the Authority of the United States, [the Constitution]

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shall be the supreme law of the land.” As a result of the fact that

the current activist government is pursuing inconsistent policies,

many believe the Constitution has become irrelevant because no guiding

principles seem to exist. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The

Constitution belongs to the living and not to the dead.” Accordingly,

it is often referred to as a “living” document because of its regular

alteration and reexamination; therefore, the Constitution has not

become irrelevant in defining the goals of American government.

This

will be shown by examining how the Constitution ensures and upholds

American ideas of rights, defines governmental structures, allows for

an increase in governmental growth, and permits the Supreme Court to

shape and define public policy through Constitutional

Through years of research on court cases, political scientists

are in agreement that most people favor rights in theory, but their

support diminishes when the time to put the rights into practice

arrives. For example, a strong percentage of Americans concur with

the idea of free speech throughout the United States, but when a court

case such as Texas vs. Johnson (1989) arises, most backing shifts away

from complete freedom of speech. In the case, a Texan named Gregory

Johnson set fire to an American flag during the 1984 Republican

National Convention in Dallas in order to protest nuclear arms

buildup; the decision was awarded to Johnson in the midst of stern

Lockean philosophy concerning the natural rights of man also

serves amajor role in an American’s idea of rights. Many citizens

feels that it is the task of the state to preserve such birthrights as

life, liberty, and property. The juristic theory of rights deals with

the hypothesis that a man’s natural rights only amounted to the

quantity of power he can exercise over any other man. A more general

and logical definition of a right is a claim upheld by the law, in

which case the Bill of Rights becomes important (Benn 195).

Although the Constitution originally did not contain the Bill

of Rights, the states threatened to delay ratification until the

amendments were made. The main purpose of implementing the first ten

amendments to the United States Constitution, was to safeguard

fundamental individual rights against seizure by the federal

government and prohibit interference with existing rights. The

Revolutionary War with Britain was still quite clear in the American

mind during the writing of the Constitution, so the Bill of Rights had

full support of the public because it protected citizens against

everything which had angered the colonists about the British (Holder

The Constitution is extremely ambiguous concerning individual

rights and personal freedoms of man. It does, however, prohibit the

passage of ex post facto laws, which punish people for an act they

committed before such an act was illegal, disallow bills of attainder,

which punish offenders without a trial, and prevent suspension of the

writ of habeas corpus, which requires a detained man to be notified of

the offense he committed (Gilbert 331). The Constitution also

prohibits religious qualifications for seeking and holding a

governmental office, and it secures the right of a trial by jury of

peers in a criminal case (Gilbert 336).

Articles One, Two, and Three of the United States Constitution

define the three structures of the national government, and include

each branch’s composition and function.

Article One deals with the Congress, the legislative structure

of the federal government. It is the Congress, rather than the

President, who is bestowed by the Constitution with the lawmaking

duty. The legislative branch contains two Houses, one being the

Senate, which is based upon equal representation of the states, and

the other being the House of Representatives, which is based upon

state population. The Framers envisioned Congress as the most

important and most powerful branch of government, although today much

of the significant legislation is initiated by the President and the

executive department (Holder 20).

In order to be a Representative, one must be twenty-five years

of age or older, a United States citizen for at least seven years, and

reside in the state from which he is elected (Holder 21). On the

other hand, Senators must have attained the age of thirty years, be a

citizen for at least nine years, and also reside in the state from

which he is elected. While Representatives serve two year terms,

Senators serve six year terms (Holder 23).

The powers belonging to Congress can be classified as either

economic or military. Economic powers include the authority to levy

taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce, coin money, and establish

bankruptcy laws (Holder 28). Certain military powers involve declaring

war, raising and supporting armies, regulating and maintaining navies,

and supplying militias (Holder 29). Article One also contains, in

section eight, clause 18, and elastic clause which allows Congress

to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper…”

The Constitution also elaborates upon certain acts to which it

is prohibited. Such acts include no Bill of Attainder or ex post

facto laws, no suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus, other

individual rights that man possesses (Holder 32).

Article Two discusses the executive branch of the government-

specifically the President of the United States- and specifies his

powers, duties, responsibilities, and requirements for office (Holder

35). The President is the Commander in Chief of the United States

Army and Navy; he has the power to make treaties and fill vacancies

during a recess of the Senate (Holder 37). He is required to give a

“state of the union” address each year in order inform Congress

of the present condition of the United States as a whole (Holder 38).

In order to hold the office of the Presidency, one must be a natural

born citizen of the United States, over the age of thirty-five, and a

resident of the United States for fourteen years. The case of his

removal from office, the powers of the President are handed over to

the Vice- President and he shall complete the President’s term in

Article Three deals with the third branch of government- the

judicial branch. This Article lays the foundation for a Supreme Court

of the United States, but all lower courts and federal courts,

including the Supreme Court, is under the jurisdiction of Congress.

The organization of the federal court system established by Congress

is hierarchical. The highest court, the Supreme Court, is located in

Washington D.C. and consists of nine justices, there are eleven

Circuit Courts of Appeals distributed throughout the country, and

approximately ninety federal District Courts (Holder 40).

Judicial power extends to all cases in which law and equity

arise under the Constitution (Holder 42). The Supreme Court consists

of eight associate justices and the chief justice, all appointed by

the president with the consent of the Senate. Members of the Court are

appointed for life terms and can be removed only by resignation or

impeachment (Holder 44).

Over time, the United States Government has grown steadily in

size and complexity, and it is continuing such growth daily. In

recent years, such growth in the state and local levels has led to an

increased interest in implementation activities- those activities and

tasks undertaken after a law is passed (Ripley 24). Graphical trends

show that government spending, employment, and spending as a

percentage of the Gross National Product have increased at a healthy

pace since the beginning of our nation’s existence, and such trends

are predicted to continue their rise well into the twenty-first

century (Ripley 25). Implementation of programs on the federal level

are rarely directed straight from the national government in

Washington, D.C. Most require a combination of federal field offices,

state governments, local governments, and local nongovernmental

actors. Such actors, through providing services to beneficiaries, have

become important implementers. For example, many programs created to

compensate the unemployed are implemented by a network of groups

including the United States Employment Service, fifty separate state

employed security agencies, and countless local offices as a result of

those fifty state agencies. Other employment agencies include the

national office of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of

the United States Department of Labor, ten regional ETA offices, fifty

state offices, and between five hundred and six hundred local service

delivery areas. As shown, one governmental program can easily

encompass numerous agencies and office space, and with such programs

arising daily, this translates into rapid governmental expansion

Due to the fact that programs, whose numbers have grown

significantly in recent years, need bureaucrats in order to be

implemented, America’s bureaucracy has increased in the same manner as

its programs have. Two main factors have contributed to the growth of

bureaucracy in government. First, specific external trends and events

such as violence and economic difficulties cause complex growth

because of the programs that are necessary to halt such problems.

Second, a bureaucrat working for a specific agency has a natural

tendency to improve the importance of his agency’s work; thus, his

efforts result in expanded bureaucracy (Ripley 43). Although some

political scientists argue that a growing government will limit

freedom of the people, many believe that government’s increased role

in the lives of Americans serves to protect civil liberties and civil

Throughout United States history the Supreme Court has been

called upon to interpret the Constitution in one or two possible ways.

First, a “strict constitution” of national law, which upholds the

belief that the states are vested with ultimate governmental

authority, while the federal government should only have secondary

authority. Second, a less strict, more federalist position, which

maintains that the Constitution, due to a broad interpretation, hints

toward implied powers in the central government. The second view was

especially prominent from 1801 to 1835, under chief justice John

Marshall (Armstrong and Woodward 210).

Under Marshall, the case of Marbury vs. Madison (1803)

involved a contested appointment by the predecessor of then Secretary

of State James Madison. The Court held that an act of Congress in

conflict with the Constitution was void and that the Supreme Court

possessed the power to declare if such a conflict existed. This

decision set the precedent for what is known today as judicial review,

and provides the Court with a means of checking the legislature

It is a common belief that no body of doctrine, such as the

Constitution, is ever fully developed at the time of its completion.

With an ever changing society, it is apparent that the Constitution

must transform along with society through interpretations of

provisions to the original text. This distinction is put in the hands

of the Supreme Court justices who are forced to confront

circumstantial changes and new situations of modern times quite

frequently. They are expected to reshape the doctrine in compliance

with the original ideas of the Constitution, or “the intentions of the

Framers”, to ensure that new provisions do not deprive man of the

right to govern himself (Bork 513).

Since the birth of the United States, Americans have formed an

unbreakable habit of evolving economic, political, philosophical, and

social questions into lawsuits. It is because of this habit that the

Supreme Court is often the eventual resting place for a societal issue

(Brennan 517). Such situations are prime examples of how the

Constitution displays qualities of a “living” document. Despite the

fact that the original text is over two hundred years old, the

document, through the interpretation of the Supreme Court, is still

able to consistently shape public policy at will.

Although people argue that the Constitution is irrelevant

today because it doesn’t properly define the goals of American

government, the Constitution has not become irrelevant, and it is

still the driving force behind our government. American’s idea of

rights are shaped daily by the Bill of Rights and the acts that

Congress is prohibited to amend. Through the use of Lockean

philosophy concerning the nature of man, the Constitutional rights

will always pertain to the needs of society, despite the fact that

such thought is nearly three hundred years old. The Constitution also

regulates the powers of each governmental structure by allowing a

system of checks and balances to emerge. The continuing growth of

government in recent years causes more legislation, but ultimately

preserves civil right and liberties through such growth. The Supreme

Court is able to mold public policy with every decision it hands down

on every case it oversees. The relevancy of the Constitution is quite

clear in the everyday lives of each American, and it establishes

itself as the “supreme law of the land” on a regular basis.

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Cite this Review of The United States Constitution’s Articles

Review of The United States Constitution’s Articles. (2018, Jul 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/essay-6/

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