Freedom Matters–The Constitution–Part 3–Article 1 The Legislative Branch Part 2

Continuing with Article 1 of the Constitution, I will finish Article 1 in this post.

 

Article 1 – The Legislative Branch
Section 8 – Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power:

To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties,Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility to coin money and regulate the value of it, not some private organization that does not get audited.  There is no provision in the Constitution that allows Congress to abdicate its authority here.  Congress is not prohibited from commissioning an organization to do the actual printing of money, but Congress alone has the authority to dictate the value of the money.  With no Constitutional mandate for the Federal Reserve, it must be abolished, and a return to a more sound monetary policy is in order.  While I am a “gold standard” guy when it comes to what we base our money on, at the very least, the basis for our money must be on something that has recognizable and accepted universal value.  (Deut 25:15 and Prov 16:11)

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

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;

This one will forever be debated.  The bottom line is that the Constitution charges Congress with creating the framework for copyright law.  Intellectual Property is recognized by the Constitution, and it is to be protected by acts of Congress.  The Constitution states that the length of copyright is limited, but not how limited.  That is left up to Congress to figure out.  You may not like the concept of Intellectual Property, but it is codified and protected in the Constitution. 

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To declare war.  Read that again.  To declare war.  Only Congress has the Constitutional authority to declare war.  Not the President.  Only Congress.  The sitting President may ask Congress to declare war.  I do not think it inappropriate for the sitting President to do that.  But at the end of the day, only Congress can declare war.  The reasoning is simple.  The authority to send men to their death should not rest on the shoulders of only one man.  That fits more in line with the role of king than it does the role of elected president.  How many legitimately declared wars has the US engaged in since World War 2?  None.  Don’t believe me?  Go back and look.  If you can find one military action that the US has engaged in where the Congress, not the President, has declared war.  I mean actually declaring war not simply allocating funds for a military action the President ordered.

Since the time of Augustine, western civilization has operated under the “Just War Theory”.  Just war theory gives guidelines for determining if a particular war is Just, and how to justly conduct a just war.  Requiring a majority of elected representatives to agree to a particular war is a check and balance against the United States becoming an aggressor nation.  It is a preventative against imposing our interest where it is wrong to do so.  If you can get a majority of 500+ elected representatives to agree to a particular war, it is likely that the majority of the citizens are also in support of that war.  It is not a guarantee, but it is a much safer, far more rational position to approach war from than a single elected individual having this power.

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

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

Here, I think no one will agree with me, and that is ok.  The Civil War was not an insurrection.  The south simply voted, state by state, to leave the Union.  Much like each state voted to leave the Crown nearly 100 years prior.  In my opinion, the southern states should not have left, but should have continued to fight in Congress over the issue of the rights of individual states, but in my estimation, each state had the right to leave the union.  The north had no Constitutional authority to force the south to stay.  Lincoln should have let the south go.  But the serious error of the 3/5ths compromise led to the serious error of the Civil War.  The north had no justification for going to war, if they were to have followed Augustine’s Just War Theory.  The south did have justification, as they were defending themselves from an aggressor nation.  The Civil War should never have happened, and we live with the consequences of the sin of the 3/5ths compromise even today.  Further, had we as a nation in the early formation if the nation considered chattel slavery the sin that it actually is, we would never have even had the discussion of the 3/5ths compromise.  This is what happens when we look at other human beings as “less than” us.  If God created man in His image, who are we to say that another image bearer is “less than” us?  

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 the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

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 Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

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.

Section 9 – Limits on Congress

 

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

(No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.) (Section in parentheses clarified by the 16th Amendment.)

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

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.

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.

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.

Section 10 – Powers Prohibited of States

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing 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.

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 it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

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.

Freedom Matters–The Constitution–Part 2–Article 1 The Legislative Branch

Today, I examine Article 1 of the Constitution.  Here, the Constitution establishes a bi-cameral legislature, and sets the limits it operates under.  As you read through each section, notice what the House and Senate are actually charged with doing, and more importantly, not doing.

Section 1 – The Legislature

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of theUnited States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2 – The House

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.

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 shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2.)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; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

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

The Constitution matters.  It is a vital document in terms of the workings of the federal government.  It is generally a good document.  Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, is probably the most morally reprehensible portion of the Constitution.  The three-fifths compromise has absolutely no moral justification.  Fortunately, it was altered by the 14th Amendment, but this should have never been a necessity.  Had this compromise not been made, either the ratification of the Constitution would have been delayed, or the southern states would not have ratified it, leaving the north and south somewhat split.  The Civil War, which I believe to be an unjust war, may still have been fought, but slavery would not have been an issue.  The war may have been delayed, or even better prevented.  Unfortunately, many of the colony’s went along with chattel slavery, a practice that is antithetical to intent of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  The compromise should have never been made.  Sadly, we still live with the effects of the compromise.

 

Section 3 – The Senate

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State,(chosen by the Legislature thereof,) (The preceding words in parentheses superseded by the 17th Amendment, section 1.)for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Interesting that, originally, US senators were chosen by their individual state legislators.  Members of the House are chosen by popular vote of the districts they represent, thus giving the people the right to directly elect their own Representatives in the federal government, the state legislatures selected 2 people to represent the interest of the individual states in Congress, thereby giving the states direct representation in the federal government, and the President and Vice President are chosen by the Electoral College, not the popular vote.  In this way, the people had direct representation, along with each state’s interest being represented by appointing Senators.  It allowed for the maximization of varied interests to be represented in the federal government.   A repeal of the 17th Amendment may be necessary to restore the good balance

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 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;(and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.) (The preceding words in parentheses were superseded by the 17th Amendment, section 2.)

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.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse 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.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on 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.

Judgment 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, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4 – Elections, Meetings

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 Place of Chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall (be on the first Monday in December,) (The preceding words in parentheses were superseded by the 20th Amendment, section 2.)unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5 – Membership, Rules, Journals, Adjournment

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 Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment 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.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6 – Compensation

(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.) (The preceding words in parentheses were modified by the 27th Amendment.)They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session 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.

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.

I would favor a change in this section.  Instead of Senators and Representatives receive compensation from the federal treasury, they should be compensated from the treasury of the states they represent.  The amount of compensation should be determined by the individual states, and the process for setting the compensation should be determined by the individual states as well.  For example, if the state of TN believes that the legislature should set the compensation for the representatives it sends to Washington, then the legislature should set the compensation.  My preference that the compensation should be set by referendum voted on by the people of the state, not the state legislature.

Section 7 – Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto

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.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve 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 Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and 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 House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

I will finish the last three sections of Article 1 in the next post.