Breakdown of Constitution
Read the complete text of the following documents:
Preamble to the Constitution
The preamble to the Constitution is an introduction that articulates the purposes and principles of the Constitution. It is important to note that the preamble does not assign powers to the federal government, but rather introduces the intentions of the Founding Fathers in creating the Constitution.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The constitution is comprised of seven articles, each addressing a different subject. Some articles are divided into sections. Below is a brief breakdown of the articles:
Article 1 – Establishes the rules and laws that govern the legislative branch. Issues such as the powers and responsibilities of Congress, how members of Congress are to be chosen, and how bills become law are explained. The longest of all the articles, Article 1 is divided into 10 sections.
Article 2 – Establishes the rules and laws that govern the executive branch. The powers of the President are divided into four sections.
Article 3 - Establishes the rules and laws that govern the judicial branch. Both the Supreme Court and inferior courts are covered in the first two articles, while section three address the act of treason.
Article 4 – Deals with the states. The relationship between the states, issues of territory, and the federal government’s responsibility to the states are covered in the four sections that comprise Article 4.
Article 5 – Establishes the rules for amending the Constitution.
Article 6 – Establishes the role of treaties, requires that all members of the individual branches of government swear an oath to support the constitution, and declares that no religious test will be required of those seeking public office.
Article 7 – States the number of states needed to ratify the Constitution, as well as lists the names of the Constitution’s signers.
Bill of Rights
The BIll of Rights is simply the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.
1st Amendment – The freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and redress
2nd Amendment – The right to bear arms
3rd Amendment – The right to be protecting from quartering of troops
4th Amendment – The freedom from unreasonable search and seizure
5th Amendment – The right to due process; eminent domain
6th Amendment – The rights of those accused of crimes (trial by jury, right to counsel, etc.)
7th Amendment – The right to a civil trial by jury
8th Amendment – Freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment
9th Amendment – Protection of rights not specified in the Constitution
10th Amendment – Powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution belongs to the states
11th Amendment – States are immune from lawsuits filed by citizens of another state or foreign nation
12th Amendment – Revises the procedures for presidential elections
13th Amendment – Abolishes slavery
14th Amendment – Sets forth citizenship laws and establishes the equal protection clause
15th Amendment – Gave men of all color or race the right to vote
16th Amendment – Allows the federal government to collect income tax
17th Amendment – Senators are to be elected by the citizens of their state, not the state legislatures
18th Amendment – Prohibition of alcohol
19th Amendment – Gave women the right to vote
20th Amendment – Sets the term commencements for the President and Congress
21st Amendment – Repeals the 18th Amendment
22nd Amendment – Limits the President to two terms
23rd Amendment – Provides Washington D.C. representatives in the Electoral College
24th Amendment – Protects the rights of those who have not paid taxes to vote
25th Amendment – Sets the terms for presidential succession
26th Amendment – Sets 18 as the voting age
27th Amendment – Laws affecting the salaries of members of Congress do not take effect until the next session of Congress begins