Free, Sovereign, and Independent States: The Intended Meaning of the American Constitution

The Constitution
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Originally, there were six members, and the number has fluctuated up to as many as ten. In , the number was set in the law at nine, and it has remained at nine ever since. The number of justices is now set in the U. Code at 28 USC 1. Thanks to Dulce Siochi for the idea. This phrase is commonly attributed to the Constitution, but it comes from the Gettysburg Address. Thanks to James Bishop for the idea.

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Paper Money. The Constitution does not directly mention paper money, a staple of today's economy. It does give the Congress the power to "coin money," however.

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The Constitution does prohibit states from issuing "bills of credit," but no such prohibition is in place for the federal government. What does this mean?

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Is paper money unconstitutional, but coins are okay? See FAQ Question for a discussion of this topic. Thanks to Jon Williams for the idea.

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Political Parties. Political parties are such a basic part of our political system today, that many people might assume the Constitution must at least mention parties in one way or another In fact, in the times of the Articles of Confederation , there weren't even any parties; factions, perhaps; regional blocs, yes; but no parties. Not until the Jackson and Van Buren administrations did organized parties really take hold in the American political system.

Thanks to Lois for the idea. Primary Elections. The Primary Election season can be exciting and heady as candidates for the presidency, and other national and state offices, vie for their party's endorsement and spot on the ballot.

The States and the Constitution

Many people today assume that because the process is second nature that it must be spelled out in the Constitution. No where in the Constitution, however, will you find any mention of how elections should be conducted. Since the Constitution is silent on the issue, we have been free to develop any system we wished, and the result is the system of primary elections we now use. Though the point of the party elections is to select a single member of the party for the "real" election, the courts have still exerted influence, reasoning that through primaries, disenfranchisement can be effected.

Party elections, then, must be open to anyone asserting party affiliation — parties cannot, for example, bar any person of color solely on the basis of race. Since they are party elections, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that primary elections can bar voters not registered with that party. Thanks to Jeff Winter for the idea. Qualifications for Judges. Article 1, Section 2 specifies the qualifications to be a Representative, Article 1, Section 3 specifies those for Senators, and Article 2, Section 1 those for President.

The 12th Amendment adds the Vice President. But no where does the Constitution specify how federal judges are to be qualified. There is no minimum age and no residency requirement. The primary reason for this is that the Framers were well aware of how judges became judges — they were appointed because they excelled at the law.

To do that, you must have had at least a minimum of knowledge in the law though in the 18th and 19th centuries, lawyers were often self-taught.

Avalon Project - Constitution of the Confederate States; March 11,

The Right To Privacy. The Constitution does not specifically mention a right to privacy. However, Supreme Court decisions over the years have established that the right to privacy is a basic human right, and as such is protected by virtue of the 9th Amendment. The right to privacy has come to the public's attention via several controversial Supreme Court rulings, including several dealing with contraception the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases , interracial marriage the Loving case , and abortion the well-known Roe v Wade case.

In addition, it is said that a right to privacy is inherent in many of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, such as the 3rd , the 4th 's search and seizure limits, and the 5th 's self-incrimination limit. The Right To Travel. As the Supreme Court notes in Saenz v Roe , , the Constitution does not contain the word "travel" in any context, let alone an explicit right to travel except for members of Congress, who are guaranteed the right to travel to and from Congress. The presumed right to travel, however, is firmly established in U. Like the right of association, Thanks to W.

The 14th Amendment interpreted against its original meaning [No. 86]

The Right To Vote. The Constitution contains many phrases, clauses, and amendments detailing ways people cannot be denied the right to vote.

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Free, Sovereign, and Independent States: The Intended Meaning of the American Constitution [John Graham, Laura Tesh] on *FREE* shipping on. It remains the object of reverence for nearly all Americans and an object of The Constitution of the United States has endured for over two centuries. strength is that it is the complement of the Declaration of Independence. power by "the consent of the governed," and it defined the conditions of a free.

You cannot deny the right to vote because of race or gender. Citizens of Washington DC can vote for President; year-olds can vote ; you can vote even if you fail to pay a poll tax. The Constitution also requires that anyone who can vote for the "most numerous branch" of their state legislature can vote for House members and Senate members. Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote, as it does the right to speech, for example.

It does require that Representatives be chosen and Senators be elected by "the People," and who comprises "the People" has been expanded by the aforementioned amendments several times. Aside from these requirements, though, the qualifications for voters are left to the states. And as long as the qualifications do not conflict with anything in the Constitution, that right can be withheld.

For example, in Texas, persons declared mentally incompetent and felons currently in prison or on probation are denied the right to vote. It is interesting to note that though the 26th Amendment requires that year-olds must be able to vote, states can allow persons younger than 18 to vote, if they chose to. Thanks to Roy Neale for the idea and to Brian Shaprio for some clarifications.

The Separation Of Church and State. The phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the 1st Amendment erected a "wall of separation" between the church and the state James Madison said it "drew a line," but it is Jefferson's term that sticks with us today. The phrase is commonly thought to mean that the government should not establish, support, or otherwise involve itself in any religion. The Religion Topic Page addresses this issue in much greater detail. The Separation Of Powers Clause.

Though it may be implied or even directly stated in some news reports, blog postings, or web sites, there is no clause of the Constitution that is called the "Separation of Powers Clause. The concept of the Separation of Powers is written into the first three articles of the Constitution, as detailed elsewhere. Thanks to Eric Zuesse for the idea.

Originally, the Framers were very careful about avoiding the words "slave" and "slavery" in the text of the Constitution. Instead, they used phrases like "importation of Persons" at Article 1, Section 9 for the slave trade, "other persons" at Article 1, Section 2 , and "person held to service or labor" at Article 4, Section 2 for slaves. Not until the 13th Amendment was slavery mentioned specifically in the Constitution. There the term was used to ensure that there was to be no ambiguity as what exactly the words were eliminating.


In the 14th Amendment , the euphemism "other persons" and the three-fifths value given a slave was eliminated. The Slavery Topic Page has a lot more detail. Thanks to ches04 for the idea. The Constitution never uses the word immigration , so how is it that the rules for immigrants, and quotas for countries, are set by the federal government and not by the state governments? After all, as the 10th Amendment states, are the powers not delegated to the United States held by the states, or the people?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Congressional power to regulate naturalization, from Article 1, Section 8 , includes the power to regulate immigration see, for example, Hampton v. Mow Sun Wong , U. It would not make sense to allow Congress to pass laws to determine how an immigrant becomes a naturalized resident if the Congress cannot determine how, or even if, that immigrant can come into the country in the first place. Just because the Constitution lacks the word immigration does not mean that it lacks the concept of immigration. There is also an argument that immigration is an implied power of any sovereign nation, and as such, the federal government has the power to regulate immigration because the United States is a sovereign nation.

While it is true that the United States is a sovereign nation, and it may be true that all sovereign nations have some powers inherent in that status, it is not necessary to determine if immigration is such a power that does not even require constitutional mention, because the Naturalization Clause handles the power. Thanks to Jason Potkanski for the idea, and Stephen Lush for some clarification.

Preamble to the United States Constitution

Other topics. I get a lot of notes from people with topics not in the Constitution. I expand on suggestions as time permits. Before time permits, here is a bullet-list of the topics that have been sent to me, each of which I hope to eventually add a few notes about:. If you can think of any more, please let me know.

About the Author John Remington Graham is an experienced trial lawyer and former professor of law. A founding professor of an accredited law school, he has worked as a federal public defender and an advisor to the amicus curiae for Quebec in the Quebec secession case of He frequently lectures on the constitutionality of secession, and his book A Constitutional History of Secession is the definitive work on this subject.

Both titles are available from Pelican. ISBN Tesh of the South Carolina Bar, from the foreword A restatement and rediscovery of the intended meaning of the United States Constitution, this exhaustive volume closely examines the document as originally framed in , implemented in , and amended in , , and Click to review this product. This language presents a clear example of sovereignty being acknowledged to a new state—and relinquished by an old one; and no such language exists in the Constitution, to connote any such similar intent by the individual states.

However they all fail utterly to convey any such intent whatsoever. However, sovereignty did not vest in any such a body prior to the Constitution, but solely in the People of each state existing as a separate nation. Other common arguments from the Constitution likewise fail for the same reason: i. This sovereign recognizes no superior, since any such superior would naturally be the supreme ruler.

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For these reasons, therefore, proponents of a national Constitution inevitably-- and unanimously, without exception— all grasp at their final straw by playing the imperialism-card: i. It would have been different, if the Union had been honest and direct, and simply announced that they were taking sovereign control over the states by force; then, the rule of imperialism would validate their position based on outcome.

However the Union cannot stand both on law and brute-force, drawing from either one at convenience—i. And for this reason, the United States—via the federal government-- cannot sustain any sovereign claim over the member-states, as a result of military victory over them; for its original claim of sovereignty was based in law in , as the sole premise for mounting that war in the first place.

This is, without question, the reason why the republic has failed so badly to keep the power in check: i.