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The constitution of the United States is quite important when it comes to the constitutions of the world, as its the oldest. It is in act since 1789. The history of creation of the constitution is complex and may be not a subject of our interest on this website. Before the constitution the country was governed by another constitutional instrument, Articles of Confederation. Yet, there were many drafts and works for the new constitution and many arguments regarding the power of the federal state and how the organisation of the states must be. The design of the constitution was made by the individuals who are known as the framers, legists in US still resort to their drafts for the interpretation of the constitution. Finally, Constitution was signed in 1776 in Philadelphia and ratified in 1789 by 13 states

The constitution begins with the famous opening, “We The People”. The part that the previous words take place in is the preamble. It’s similar to the foreword of our constitution but shorter. After the preamble part comes the articles, which are seven in total but with many sections, which also divide into clauses. As can be expected, the first article is with the legislative power. It’ is given to the Congress of the Unites States, which has two chambers: Senate and House of Representatives. Senate is the chamber that every state is represented with only two senators, unlike Senate in House of Representatives, states are represented in accordance to their population. The requirements in order to be either senator or a representative are different. The power to impeach (to remove from the office due to reasons) the president is given to the House.

After the introduction of Senate and House of Representatives in section two and three, the powers that the legislative body holds are listed in the section eight. The legislative authorities it has are no different than what we have in our constitution with the exception of our country is a unitary nation and the legislation of our country has direct effect all across the country, while the legislation of the Congress is almost completely on the federal level. There is no need to list these powers here, the more important knowledge here is what the Congress doesn’t have as powers. This is set out in the following article, the ninth. There are the basic principles of law that are accepted by every legal system in the world. One of them is being the right to reach out to a court when your freedom is restricted by the public authorities or having the right to demand the review of your arrest by a higher court. The constitution states that this right, also known as Habeas Corpus will not be revoked or suspended unless in the cases of rebellion or invasion. Another principle stated is the non-retroactivity of the law (ex post facto law), which is also a principle of our constitution indirectly, linked to the principle of rule of law. Moreover, this is an important rule in criminal law. The constitution also forbids the Congress to declare individuals as guilty by making law and without trial in front of the tribunals. There are other powers denied to the Congress, yet they could be skipped in this text. In the final part of article one, in the section ten, what states can not do are regulated, as the United States is a federal nation.

The article two is concerning the executive power of the United States. The executive power is given to the President of the United States, but not secretaries and the vice president. The President and the vice president is elected for four years by the Electoral College and the president can not be elected twice. After that, only natural born citizens can be the President. This means that, the citizenship of someone is due to being born in the US, could be elected President. The constitution does not state whether or not the vice president can only be elected by being a natural born citizen. There is a debate regarding this among jurists and lawyers, yet as there is a line of succession should the office of the presidency is left unoccupied, the vice president must be a natural born in order to be the president. The President is also the commander in chief and may appoint supreme court judges, secretaries and other civil officers shown with the consent and the advice of the Senate. The President and the other officials stated may be removed from office with impeachment. The power to impeach is given to the House of Representatives by the constitution. The impeachment can only occur for the crimes of treason, bribery and high crimes.

Judiciary or the judicial power is vested in and regulated in the article four. The judicial power of the United States belong to the Supreme Court and the courts that will be established by the Congress. It also states that the judges will serve life time. The second section of the article determines the scope of the judicial power. It also establishes the requirement of jury trial, unless its an impeachment trial. The articles coming after this one is related to states, their citizens, involvement of the U.S. in the state protection, the method to amend the constitution. However, in the article six, the supremacy of the constitution is shown. It is first to bind judges. Judges must prioritize the constitution in the application of law over state or federal law. It is the absolute law of the land and every state is a subject of it. All senators, representatives, members of state legislatures, executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and in the states themselves, are bound to support the constitution.

Amendments, are to be the subject of another text.

Post Author: Hasan Serat Gökçek

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