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Thursday, December 30, 2010

U.S. Constitution: Article I

By Douglas V. Gibbs

Article I establishes the Legislative Branch of the federal government.

Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the two parts of Congress, and grants all legislative powers to the two houses of Congress.

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 funny thing about the word “all” is that it means, as shocking as it may seem, “all.” This means that all authority in regards to making law, modifying law, and repealing law (all legislative powers) and anything else that has to do with affecting law, belongs to the Congress of the United States. Therefore, any court cases that modify or strike down law, any executive order that modifies or creates law, or any regulation that is put into place without being proposed and voted into existence by the Congress, is unconstitutional. And, since the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, that would make any court opinion, court ruling, executive order, executive action, or federal agency regulation that becomes law, modifies law, repeals law, or strikes down law an illegal action by that federal entity - making those pseudo laws illegal, unconstitutional, and null.

All legislative powers belong to the Congress. The powers are herein granted. Herein means, in the simplest way, “here in.” So, the word “herein” indicates that not only do all legislative powers belong to Congress, but that those powers are listed here in the U.S. Constitution.

Who gave the federal government those powers herein the Constitution? Apparently those powers were “granted” by someone.

Granted means “to transfer legally.” Therefore, the legislative branch does not receive authorities for the sake of it. The powers are granted by someone to the federal government. As indicated in the Preamble, “We The People of the United States” grant those powers to the federal government. That way, those powers may be “vested,” or legally transferred, to a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of two houses; a Senate, and a House of Representatives.

Article I, Section 2 defines the House of Representatives. The members of the House are divided among the States proportionally. The House of Representatives is the voice of the people in the federal government. Section 7 of Article I establishes that all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives. What that does is give the House the purse strings of the federal government, which in turn gives The People (remember, the House is the people’s voice in the federal government) the ability to stop anything they feel necessary to stop, by simply defunding it. The House also holds the sole power of impeachment.

Article I, Section 3 defines the U.S. Senate. Senators were originally appointed by the legislatures of the individual States. This was changed in 1913 through the 17th Amendment. Each State has equal suffrage in the Senate, meaning each state has the same amount of Senators, two each. The Vice President is introduced in this section as the President of the Senate, who may be involved in all proceedings if he so desires, but his vote only matters if there is a tie. The U.S. Senate was the voice of the States in the federal government.

Most everything the Executive Branch does is subject also to the consent of the Senate. The Senate ratifies treaties, holds hearings for any appointments the Executive Branch nominates, and the Senate holds the sole power for holding hearings on impeachments.

Both houses together also have the ability to override a veto with a 2/3 vote. This system was designed to enable the People and the States to constrain each other through their appropriate congressional houses, and to constrain the executive together through the power of a vote.

Article I, Section 4 establishes that each State may have its own methods for electing members of the Congress, and mandates, or requirements, and that Congress must meet at least once per year. Understanding this, it becomes clear that when the hanging chad controversy arose (Gore/Bush), the legal case should have only gone as high as the State Supreme Court. The federal government had no authority over that case, as per this section.

Article I, Section 5 indicates that Congress must have a minimum number of members present in order to meet, and if the Congress deems it necessary, may set fines for members who do not show up. Section 5 states that each house may have its own rules, keep a journal to record proceedings and votes, and that neither house may adjourn without the permission of the other. Section 5 also establishes that if a member of a house does not follow the established rules, the house may punish its members for disorderly behavior, and by a two thirds vote may actually expel a member from Congress.

The establishment of rules, holding a hearing in regards to the breaking of those rules, and punishing a member for his behavior, as set forth by Article I, Section 5, was recently used when Charles Rangel broke the rules of the House of Representatives, faced a panel for his actions, and was punished by censure.

Article I, Section 6 goes over compensation, and the rules regarding such. Section 6 also establishes that members of Congress may not be detained while traveling to and from Congress, and that they cannot hold any other office in government while in Congress. This section also indicates that no member of Congress shall be appointed to a later office if while in Congress the office was created, or a raise in pay was enacted for that office - The position of Secretary of State received a raise while Hillary Clinton was in the Senate, so technically she was not eligible for the position when she was appointed. To fix this, the Democrats applied the Saxby Fix, meaning they undid the raise, and Hillary receives the compensation that was in place before the vote she participated in while in the Senate. The Saxby Fix, then, is defined as a Salary rollback.

Article I, Section 7 explains how bills become law. Any bill that raises taxes or fees must be proposed in the House of Representatives, giving "The People" the purse strings. All bills must pass both houses of Congress in the exact same form. When they are not the same, that is when a new vote for one of the bills must be established, or reconciliation is used, which still requires another vote. As the government had been established, the process allowed the people (House of Representatives) and the States (U.S. Senate) to both have the opportunity to approve the bill before it went to the Executive. If the bill is vetoed by the President, it can be overridden by a two-thirds majority by both houses. This allowed the People to constrain the States, the States to constrain the People, and for them to together constrain the federal government (Executive Branch).

Article I, Section 8 lists the authorities of Congress. Since Congress has the sole power to make law, this is also commonly referred to as the list of powers of the federal government. Note that all of the authorities have something to do with protecting, preserving or promoting the union.

Article I, Section 9 is a prohibitive section, placing limits on Congress.

Article I, Section 10 is a prohibitive section, placing limits on the States.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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