the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights
Disclaimer and acknowledgment: There are several printed versions of the Constitution of the United States in print. The reader should not rely exclusively on nor does the person typing this document warrant that it is completely accurate, although a sincere effort has been made to convey it’s words and meaning in a 20th century verbiage. The person typing this has relied both on the versions published by the American Book Company in 1926 and the Bill of Rights published by the American Civil Liberties Union. Pocket versions are, I believe, available from the Cato Institute, The American Civil Liberties Union, The Heritage Foundation and others. A dependable and perhaps more complete version is also, I believe, included in McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York, annotated which is published by West Publishing Company. The items in parenthesis have been added for both convenience and as notes with respect to their meanings and were not part of the original document.
The “BILL OF RIGHTS” (Amendments) included and FOLLOWING the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION (hand typed below):
of the United States
(Dated September 17th, 1787
presented as amended by the year 1924)
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
SECTION 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
(The House of Representatives)
SECTION 2. 1. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.
2. No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
3. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, excluding Indians not taxed. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative.
4. When vacancies Happen in the representation from any State, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
5. The House of Representatives shall chose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.
SECTION 3. 1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
2. Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every second year.
3. No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
4. The Vice President of the United States shall be president of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
5. The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a president pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.
6. The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be under oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the chief justice shall preside: and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.
7. Judgement in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgement and punishment, according to law.
(Elections and Sessions of Congress)
SECTION 4. 1. The times, place and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.
2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
(Rules of Procedure)
SECTION 5. 1. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such a manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.
2. Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two third, expel a member.
3. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgement require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either house on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.
4. Neither house, during a session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that on which the two houses shall be sitting.
(Compensation, Privileges and Incapacities)
SECTION 6. 1. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
2. No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either house during his continuance in office.
(Method of Lawmaking)
SECTION 7. 1. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives ; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.
2. Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approves he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that house, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each house respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the the same shall become law, in a like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not become law.
3. Every order, resolution or vote to which the concurrence of the House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and the House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.
(Powers of Congress)
SECTION 8. 1. The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States ; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States ;
2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States ;
3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States and with the Indian tribes ;
4. To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States ;
5. To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures ;
6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States ;
7. To establish post offices and post roads ;
8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries ;
9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court ;
10. To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations ;
11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and on water ;
12. To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years ;
13. To provide and maintain a navy ;
14. To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces ;
15. To provide for calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions ;
16. To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by the Congress ;
17. To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings ; - And
18. To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
(Powers Denied Congress)
(in addition to the limitations imposed under the Amendments)
SECTION 9. 1. (Was related to slavery)
2. The writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
3. No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.
4. No capitation , or other direct , tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration heinbefore directed to be taken.
5. No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.
6. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another ; nor shall vessels bound to, or from one State be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another.
7. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.
8. No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, Accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state.
(Powers Denied the States)
(further limited by the Amendments, especially IX and XIV)
SECTION 10. 1. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
2. No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts laid by the State on imports and exports, shall be for use by the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.
3. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.
(The President: Election and Qualifications)
SECTION 1. 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, to be elected as follows:
2. Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which each State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.
3. The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.
4. No person except a natural born citizen shall be eligible
to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
5. In the case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
6. The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States or any of them.
7. Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
(Powers of the President)
SECTION 2. 1. The President shall be the commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
2. He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur, and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other pubic ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
3. The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of the next session.
(Duties of the President)
SECTION 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both houses, or either of them, and in the case of disagreement between them with respect to adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed , and shall commission all the officers of the United States.
(Removal of Executive and Civil Officers)
SECTION 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for , and on conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
(Federal Courts and Judges)
SECTION 1. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
(Powers and Jurisdiction of Federal Courts)
SECTION 2. 1. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which will be made, under their authority; - to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; - to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; - to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; - to controversies between two or more States; - between a State and citizens of another State; - between citizens of different States; - between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States; - and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens, or subjects.
2. In all cases involving ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
3. The Trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
SECTION 3. 1. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses of the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
2. The Congress shall have the power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attained.
SECTION 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.
(Rights of citizens, persons)
SECTION 2 1. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.
2. A person charged in any State with treason, felony or other crime, who shall flee from justice and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.
(Territories and admission of New States)
SECTION 3. 1. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
2. The Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.
(Protection of the States)
SECTION 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution , when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress; Provided that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of equal suffrage in the Senate.
(SUPREMACY OF THE CONSTITUTION)
(The Supreme Law; Oath of Office; No Religious Tests)
1. (Related to debts prior to adoption of the Constitution)
2. This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States; shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
3. The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.
Done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the States present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred and eighty seven, and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names,
Presidt. and Deputy from Virginia
John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman
Wil: Livingston, David Brearley, William Paterson, Jona. Dayton
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer,
Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouv. Morris
George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jun. , John Dickinson, Richard
Bassett, Jaco : Broom
James McHenry, Dan. of Saint Thomas . Jenifer, Daniel Carroll
James Blair, James Madison, Jr.
William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson
J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinkney, Pierce
William Few, Abr. Baldwin
Attest: William Jackson, Secretary
ARTICLES in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the legislatures of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the legislatures of the several States pursuant to the original Constitution.
(The BILL OF RIGHTS)
(First Amendment - religion, speech, press, assembly, and petitioning the government)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
(Second Amendment - Right to Keep and Bear Arms,)
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
(Third Amendment - Protection from the Quartering of Troops in one’s home)
No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
(Fourth Amendment - Individual Sovereignty, Security and Privacy, Warrants required for presentation and later return, all but particularly described items and persons to be excluded and accountability by sworn oath that the cause is probable )
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
(Fifth Amendment - Right of the accused to not be questioned about themselves, no double jeopardy, liberty, property)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
(Sixth Amendment - Due and Proper Process, right to a speedy trial, to subpoena witnesses and evidence for the defense, to know what the the charges and evidence are, to have the assistance of a lawyer and an impartial jury, )
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of council for his defense.
(Seventh Amendment - Rights in Civil Trials)
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
(Eighth Amendment - Bail, Fines and Punishment)
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
(Ninth Amendment - The rights of individuals are not limited to those listed here.)
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
(Tenth Amendment - Federal Government’s Power Limited)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.
(Fourteenth Amendment - EQUAL RIGHTS and PRIVILEGES under the law, and the bill of rights made binding upon all levels of government and throughout the nation as an absolute minimum amount of individual liberty which must be “preserved, protected and defended” as embodied in the required oath for every public office throughout the land)
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United State, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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 it’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
There was considerable debate over whether there should be a Bill of Rights. The primary argument against it was that people would claim that rights not listed didn’t exist, whilst others argued that those not listed might be lost. The Ninth Amendment was proposed as a solution to the problem. The right of privacy need not be enumerated since it was clearly inferred from the right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects in the Fourth Amendment. The referral in the Declaration of Independence” to “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” was not so readily scoffed at in prior generations who were less removed in time from the founders. They required one Constitutional Amendment to create Prohibition and another to repeal it. It’s sad to say that we seem to have been living through a relentless move toward authoritarianism or even totalitarianism without consideration of the rights of those in the minority or of any presumption of innocence or fair play. Now a person’s right to defend themselves is, despite a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, used to try to deny the right of counsel and vice versa. The right to speak is used to disparage the right against testifying against ones self. Think about this for a moment. You know your own most intimate secrets. Your relationship with yourself is more intimate than with a doctor, lawyer, priest or Rabbi, all of whom have privileged relationships. Governments, obsessed with retaining or increasing their own power, have tried to limit the right of the people to peaceably assemble, even trying to regulate what you do on your own property. They’ve tried muzzling speech, the press, almost every right there is in the Constitution. In the main body of the Constitution there are absolute prohibitions against retroactive laws and guaranteeing the right of Habeas Corpus. These are fundamental rights that go back to the Magna Carta. The right to not have seizures without due and proper process and the right to not be penalized for doing things legally that are made illegal after the fact. The right to not be victimized by arbitrary, capricious, overly-broad laws passed after the fact in disregard for fundamental guaranteed rights. The right to speak truth to power and not be a victim of retribution on a collateral issue.
Among the original Twelve Amendments to the Constitution only ten got ratified by the requisite three quarters of the States initially. The two Amendments that were delayed included prohibitions against conflicts of interest including voting upon ones own pay or benefits. Perhaps one of the more serious threats to liberty comes from those who don’t even take the oath to the Constitutions of the United States and their individual State or when they do , insert other language into the oath pledging loyalty to the very laws they may have written and/or passed themselves in the first place, even when those laws might be antithetical to the enjoyment of liberty intended by the Constitution and it’s Amendments, The Bill of Rights.
It was famously written that tyranny comes like a cloud, creeping on cat’s feet. Those interested in liberty and justice for all, supporting and defending the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or learning more should contact the:
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY, 10004