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  • bill - 7 months ago
    So amazing that after almost a year of bubbling around on, the Constitution rises to #AOTD glory on 4th of July weekend.

    • bill - 2 months ago
      [Update, 4 months later] Dems just won the house and assume control in January. Seems like a good time to reread The Constitution.
      • bill - 2 months ago
        Up! :)
  • joanne - 1 year ago
    Wow....that was interesting....Thanks Jean for the info about the Bill of Rights...I didn't know that. I also felt like I was back in high school because that has not been on my radar for decades. ... I thought this might be a boring read but I was fascinated at he insight and simplicity of the document. I was struck by how many times the word impeachment was used, also how few times the Supreme Court mentioned. I was surprised that there was a two year limit on funds for war, about the nobility clause and that it is actually written in the constitution to promote the progress of Science and "useful" arts. Great selection!
    • bill - 10 months ago
      Glad you found it fascinating! I did too!
      • bill - 10 months ago
        Always worth a refresher.
  • sjwoo - 1 year ago
    My goodness, I feel like I'm back in high school...or maybe even junior high? I do remember having to read this thing from start to finish, but it's been many, many decades.

    I'd completely forgotten how little is written for executive and judicial. Judicial is so mention of the # of Supreme Court justices or anything really specific about the Supreme Court. I guess it could be just one justice...

    >> The Seats of 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

    Didn't know this. So in every midterm election, 1/3 of the senators are up for re-election. That makes good sense.

    >> The Times, Places 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 chusing Senators.

    Why is the place of choosing U.S. Senators not governed by the states? I guess that means we could have senatorial elections in one place and everything else in another? Strange.

    >> To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years

    I didn't know about this, either. So money for armed services can only be used for two years? So I guess Congress has to re-appropriate funds for wars that last more than two years.

    This was a highly interesting reading, Bill! As far as Article VII is concerned, check this out:
    • bill - 1 year ago
      Thanks for sharing that link! I can't believe that didn't occur to me. Of course it would have be a huge pain in the neck to rewrite the entire thing by hand for just a few small "typos"

      I too enjoyed didn't know that 1/3 of the senate went up for re-election in every midterm. And yet, somehow we still manage to never elect new senators :(

      If you know of any good readings on term limits, I'd love to really read stuff about that. Now more than ever I feel like it's such an important thing to enact some reform around term limits and yet I know almost nothing about how to make that happen. I suppose it's a lot like campaign finance & gerrymandering - things that our elected officials will not doing anything about for really obvious reasons.
      • bill - 11 months ago
        Up. I like having this one on the homepage :)
  • jlcipriani - 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this tremendously! Please forgive me in advance for how much I am about to rant and ramble.

    It is interesting to read the original text without the Bill of Rights - especially since the Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments) were adopted simultaneously - and the Constitution would likely not have been ratified if those Amendments were not in the hopper. Except for setting up the initial elections and appointment of the Supreme Court, the Constitution was never really interpreted in the absence of the Bill of Rights.

    My overriding though on reading the Constitution is what an unbelievably good job they did at creating a workable model of addressing many of the problems of the day - particularly in balancing federal and state powers and rights.

    Bill - the word soup of Article VII is mostly interesting in that it establishes that the ratification of only nine states out of thirteen was required. I did not realize that unanimity was not required - which contrasts with the Declaration of Independence which required unanimity. Difference between declaring rebellion and in setting up governmental structure? It is indicates a willingness to risk withdrawal of certain states -which is very surprising.

    A few other things which struck me as I read through were the way Article I balances big state/small state concerns. Big states (in terms of population) get more power in the House, but all states get the same representation in the Senate. Skillful compromise. No one is completely happy, but everyone can live with it. The differing terms of the Representatives (2 years) and Senators (6 years) are the clearest model I know of the representative theory of government (elected officials need to do exactly what constituents want) and trustee model (elected officials are trusted to exercise judgment). Representatives are essentially always running for office while Senators have a cushion of years in which they can prove their judgment to constituents before having to run again.

    I am a trustee fan all the way - in my vast experience of local government - many issues are far more complicated and far more effected by existing laws than most people have the time (or sometimes the capability) to grasp. Government by popular vote on all issues would be a nightmare. The whole point of much of the Bill of Rights - like the First Amendment is to establish certain values which are protected from the majority - attempts to ban flag burning is a perfect example of that phenomenon. Majority wanted to ban, courts said no - protected expressive speech.

    It is interesting to me as a lawyer how interpretation of such seemingly innocuous provisions as the Commerce Clause (Art. I, Sec, 4) have been so deeply impactful in the waxing and waning of congressional power over the states.

    I kind of love the language in Art I, Section 5 that Congress can compel members who are not present to attend. I have this image of drunken Senators being hauled out of bars and brothels.

    The balance of power between the Legislative and Executive branches is primarily established by Art. I Section 7. The control over the money and the ability to override a veto are the core of Congressional power over the President. This Congressional ability to thwart the President feels positive or negative depending who the President is - right now, I am all for it.

    I also like the fact that Art I establishes all these things we completely take for granted, but which were obviously issues at the time - no nobility, no state can tax exports from another state, no state armies. I thought it was interesting that immigration was up to the states until 1808 - so the Constitution provided each state wit a ten year window to let in whoever it wanted.

    Article II contains the suddenly popular Emoluments Clause. The interpretation of this in the coming year will be fascinating. Modern definition is compensation or benefit arising from an office - but the definition at the time of ratification was simply any benefit.

    The simplicity of Article III establishing the federal judiciary is brilliant - and almost compelled by the separation of powers doctrine. If the judiciary is to be independent, it cannot be subject to too much regulation or oversight by any other branch. Appointing federal judges for life risks old cranky or loopy judges - but it also enhances independence.

    Oe of the provisions which may have outlived its usefulness is the creation of diversity jurisdiction. The diversity referred to is diversity of state residency. In 1790, it was far more likely that a state judge sitting in Virginia would automatically favor a Virginia resident over a Maryland resident (and therefore the Maryland resident would need a more neutral federal forum) than it is today. However, I suppose that could still be a factor in states which have elected judges - which I think is an absolutely terrible idea - the last thing we need is judges who are more concerned with being re-elected than in interpreting the law.

    There are about thirty other things which struck me - but I realize I have already written way, way too much. So I will stop.
    • bill - 1 year ago
      Ok wait a sec. Re: 9 states, I see this:

      >>The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

      But I also see signatures from 12 different states. I'm a bit confused on that...
      • jlcipriani - 1 year ago
        Only nine were required for passage - but more passed it. Eventually all 13 ratified. Rhode Island was the last - ratifying in 1790.
  • bill - 1 year ago
    The twentieth word is my favorite word, Tranquility (with a capital T), and I also like the adjective "domestic" right before it. I'm glad that "defence," immediately following, is lowercase.

    >> "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."

    Didn't know that!

    >>"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."

    It's pretty unseemly that elected officials today earn as much as they do. Would be cool if they earned the average American wage (~50k) as a gesture of good faith and solidarity with the people they're supposed to be "serving"

    Article II, Section I offers a powerful reminder that the power of the president isn't, in fact, granted by the people of the United States, but by a few electors.

    What's going on with Article VII? Does this word soup have some kind of legal meaning or purpose?