Temecula Constitution Class, Wednesdays 6:00 pm
28120 Jefferson Avenue, Temecula, CA
Riverside County Republican Party Headquarters
Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs
Lesson 5: Establishing the Executive Branch
Article II, Section 1, Executive Power Established
Article II establishes the Executive Branch. The Founding Fathers were anxious regarding the creation of the office of the executive because they feared that a leader with too much power had the potential of being tyrannical. Many of the founders even argued that there should not be one executive, but many, so that they may serve as checks against each other. Their concerns were well placed, if one considers that their frame of reference was the authoritarian king of the British Empire.
Despite their fears, they knew that the authorities of the president under the Articles of Confederation were too few, leaving the office of the president much too weak to adequately serve the union. The founders were looking for a strong leader that also recognized the limitations on the authorities of the federal government as granted by the States through the articles of the Constitution. The best model for the presidency was a simple choice. Article II was written, some believe, with George Washington in mind.
Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 states that the powers of the executive are "vested." This word, as we learned when we went over Article I, Section 1, carries a meaning similar to that of the word "granted." Vested means "legally transferred." The President's authorities are powers given to him through a legal transfer of authorities. The powers vested to the Executive Branch were granted by the States.
The founders understood that whenever there is a "leader," there is a struggle for power. America has been no different. The office of the president has increased its powers over the years, mostly through unconstitutional means. The Founding Fathers sought to limit the powers to the executive. Among those limitations of powers is also a term-limit. The executive is limited to a term of four years, as is the Vice President.
The election of the President and Vice President is not accomplished by direct election. Appointed electors vote for the President and Vice President. The electors were originally appointed by the States during the early elections of American History. The formula for determining the number of electors is determined by taking the number of Representatives and Senators the State is entitled in Congress, and combining those two numbers. This method of indirect election is also known as The Electoral College, which was designed in this manner specifically to protect the United States against the excesses of democracy.
After the 2000 election, where the winner of the popular vote was denied the presidency because he did not win the fight for electors, questions regarding the Electoral College arose. It was only the fourth time in history such an event occurred. To find precedents resembling the 2000 election one has to go back to the 19th century, to the elections of 1888, 1876, and 1824. Those were the only elections in American history prior to the election in 2000 where a winner in the popular vote was denied the presidency through the Electoral College system.
Recently, there has been a number of officials promising to introduce legislation to abolish the Electoral College, claiming that it no longer serves a good purpose in modern politics. The reasoning of these folks that oppose the Electoral College suggests that the United States should simply allow the popular vote of the American people be followed every four years when we elect our president.
A number of Americans have voiced their agreement with this opinion, arguing that the individual running for President receiving the most votes should win. An indirect election such as the Electoral College, argue these folks, is simply unfair and undemocratic. In other words, they believe the American political system should operate as a direct democracy.
The Founding Fathers purposely did not make this country a democracy. The United States is a Republic, equipped with checks and balances at all levels of government, including the voting process. Democracies were proven, according to the founders, to be failures.
John Adams was quoted to say, "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."
Thomas Jefferson said, "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
The founders are not the only historical figures to recognize that a democracy opposes liberty.
Karl Marx once said, "Democracy is the road to socialism."
Karl Marx, the father of communism, understood that the implementation of a democracy is a necessary step in the process of destroying our Constitutional Republic. Once the people are fooled to believe that they can receive gifts from the treasury rather than achieve for their livelihood, they will continually vote in the people who ensure the entitlements continue to flow. Eventually, this mindset becomes the majority. This group then changes over time from an involved and informed electorate to a populace that lacks the understanding of the principles of liberty and can easily be manipulated into believing that sacrificing individual liberty in exchange for social justice and security is a price that we must be willing to pay. A group that is dependent upon the government in such a manner, then, is prime to vote into power a tyranny. Eliminating the Electoral College would make it easier for these members of our society to vote into office those that promise more entitlements.
Once the majority of the voters in a Democracy become the recipients of benefits from the Federal Government, the government achieves unchecked power, and may then violate the property rights of the productive members of society in order to provide benefits to the non-productive members of society. This is best characterized in the "tax the rich," or "redistribution of wealth," scheme we are now seeing emerge as the rally cry by the current administration. The founders called this method a "scheme of leveling."
The founders were aware of this danger, which is why they established our system of government, and the electoral college, in the manner they did. A true democracy becomes "mob rule," and the principles of liberty become a target for elimination.
"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." -- Thomas Jefferson
In order to preserve our Constitutional Republic it was imperative for the vote of the people to be indirect, except when it came to voting for their representatives in the House of Representatives. The Founding Fathers divided power as much as possible, including the power of the vote.
Originally, the State Legislatures appointed the electors that cast their votes in the Presidential Election. That changed in 1824 when all but six states decided the electors should to vote in line with the popular vote.
U.S. Senators were initially appointed by the State Legislatures, which ensured the voice of the States was present in the federal government. That changed in 1913 with the 17th Amendment, which transferred the vote for the U.S. Senators to the popular vote. The 17th Amendment took away from the States their representation in the federal government.
The Founding Fathers divided the voting power as they did partially because if the power to vote for president, the House, and the Senate all fell to the people, and if the people were fooled by some political ideology that wished to destroy the republic by fundamentally changing the American System, a tyranny could be easily voted into control of all parts of the government without any checks present whatsoever. When the majority of voters are uninformed in such a manner, and are given the full voting power, tyranny is inevitable.
Winston Churchill understood the dangers of trusting an uninformed electorate with the capacity to govern. He was quoted as saying, "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."
The elimination of the Electoral College would take away the voice of the smaller states, give the election of the President to the seven largest metropolitan centers in the United States, and lead America even closer to becoming a democracy.
Democracy is a transitional governmental system that ultimately leads to tyranny. This was true in the days of the French Revolution no less than it is true today.
While democracy lasts it becomes more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy...Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. -- John Adams
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner" -- James Bovard
Our country is not a democracy. Our nation was founded as a constitutionally limited republic. The indirect election of the President through the Electoral College reflects that truth, and the Electoral College is one of the last vestiges of the system of checks and balances as they apply to the voters.
Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 indicates that the Congress may determine the time and day the electors are chosen, and give their votes. The day they vote for President and Vice President, according to this clause, will be the same day nationally. The rules for the popular election, if you will remember from Article I, are to be established by the State legislatures.
Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 states that the eligibility for President includes the requirement that the individual be a natural born Citizen.
Notice that the Constitution says a natural born citizen, "or" a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. This was to ensure that anyone alive at the time of the adoption of the Constitution who was a citizen was eligible, and anyone born after the adoption of the Constitution had to be a natural born citizen to be eligible. The word "or" gives us a clue that there is a difference between "natural born citizen," and "citizen."
Some people will use the Fourteenth Amendment as an argument regarding the definition of natural born citizen. The Fourteenth Amendment says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
The Fourteenth Amendment, in this clause, as it states, only addresses "citizenship" - not the concept of being a natural born citizen. Therefore, it does not apply when discussing the concept of natural born citizenship. The clause was written as it was to protect the citizenship of the children of the emancipated slaves. The word "jurisdiction" was placed in that clause to mean "full allegiance." There was a fear during that time, as there had been during the founding of this nation, of divided allegiance, or divided loyalties.
Natural Born Citizen is not defined in the Constitution primarily because it was common knowledge. People understood what the term "Natural Born Citizen" meant.
Today we have a number of terms that are understood without needing to be defined. One of those terms is "fast food." Without needing a definition provided, most people know what "fast food" is. That does not mean the term will be readily understood by some historian of the future. He may ask himself, when he comes across that term in our literature, "Why is it their food was fast? Did it run quickly away from them?" To understand what "fast food" meant to us, he may have to refer to a number of writings before he finally comes across the definition.
One of the sources the Founding Fathers used when it came to establishing the definition of "Natural Born Citizen" was Vatell's "Law of Nations."
Vatell's Law of Nations is mentioned once in the Constitution in Article I, Section 8, Clause 10, and it is capitalized - which suggests the mention of the Law of Nations to be a proper noun, thus supporting the argument that it is a direct reference to Vatell's writings.
Recently, it was discovered that George Washington failed to return a couple library books to the New York City Public Library. One of those books was Vatell's Law of Nations. Washington checked the book out in 1789, shortly after the Constitutional Convention, probably because of the heavy influence the definitions in Vatell's Law of Nations played on the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
Benjamin Franklin owned three copies of the Law of Nations - two for the convention, and one for his personal use. He received those copies from the editor, Dumas, in 1775.
Vatell's Law of Nations Section 212 indicates that to be a Natural Born Citizen both parents must be citizens at the time of the birth of the child. As with the Fourteenth Amendment, there was a fear of divided allegiance.
Vetell's Law of Nations required also that the child be born on American Soil, but if you read further down the section addresses other possibilities. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1790 confirmed the definition not requiring the child to be born on American soil, but still requiring that both parents be American citizens at the time of the child's birth. The section in the Naturalization Act of 1790 I am referring to specifically reads: "And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States."
Note that the fifth word, citizens, is in the plural, which means it requires both parents to be citizens at the time of the birth of the child in order for the child to be a "Natural Born Citizen."
Article II also establishes that in order to be eligible for the presidency the candidate must be at least the age of 35. This requirement, reasoned the founders, would ensure that the immaturities of youth had passed away. Along with a relatively mature age, the Constitution indicates that the president must also have been a resident of the United States for the last fourteen years. This, once again, was a guard against divided loyalties.
The Vice President must also meet all eligibility requirements. In the 18th century the Vice President was the second place winner in the election, and therefore had to be eligible because he was originally running for President. Now, the Vice President is elected as a part of the presidential ticket. However, to ensure it was clear that the Vice President also had to be eligible for the presidency, especially since he was next in line for the presidency should the Office of President be vacated, the 12th Amendment ends with a sentence that demands the Vice President is eligible for the presidency.
In Case of Death
Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 was changed by the Twelfth Amendment. This clause established the rules in case of the death of the President while in office. The clause gave the Office of the President to the Vice President in the case of death. The ambiguity of the clause, however, created confusion. In the case of President Benjamin Harrison who died after only 30 days in office, it created a constitutional crisis. The officials of that time did not know what to do. When old Tippecanoe died, he was succeeded by his Vice-President John Tyler, but since no President had died in office before, no one was quite sure how Presidential succession worked. The Constitution stipulated that the Vice-President should become the new President, but it was not clear if the Vice-President should be considered a "real" President, or if he only "acted" as President. The Tyler administration made it clear that Vice-Presidents who became President after the death of the elected President should be treated as legitimate Presidents.
The Twelfth Amendment later addressed the problem with more specified rules. Later, succession was resolved once and for all with the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967.
Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 allows for the President to be compensated for his service as President of the United States. This salary is not to be increased or diminished while the President serves. The President, according to this clause, is also not allowed to receive any other governmental salary from the federal government during his term as President. In George Washington's First Inaugural Address, he announced that he would accept no salary as President.
Oath or Affirmation
In the final Clause of Article II, Section 1, the Oath or Affirmation for the Office of President was established.
The reason for the clause indicating Oath "or" Affirmation was because an Oath is to God, and an Affirmation is not. The founders understood that not all Americans believe in God, therefore an option needed to be available for non-believers. Affirmation was also included as an option because there were some Christians that believed swearing to God to be a sin. Offering the opportunity to "affirm" gave these Christians an opportunity to take the affirmation of office without compromising their religious beliefs.
Note that the President is expected, according to the text of the oath or affirmation, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
You will also note that placing one's hand on a Bible is not in this Article. The placement of a hand on a Bible while reciting the Oath or Affirmation was something that George Washington chose to do, and it has been a tradition ever since.
Democracy: A form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Such a system includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law.
Electoral College: A body of electors chosen by the voters in each state to elect the President and Vice President of the U.S.
Executive Branch: The branch of government responsible for executing, or carrying out, the laws. An executive in government can be a president, or a governor.
Leveling: Moving money from one group of people to another by raising and lower taxes accordingly in an effort to achieve economic equity in society.
Republic: Form of government that uses the rule of law through a government system led by representatives and officials voted in by a democratic process. The United States enjoys a Constitutional Republic.
Questions for Discussion:
1. Why didn't the Founding Fathers make the President a king?
2. How does the Electoral College ensure fairness for the minority States?
3. What is the difference between a democracy and a republic?
4. Why did the Founding Fathers divide the voting power?
5. How is "citizen," and "natural born citizen," different?
6. Why were the Founding Fathers concerned about divided loyalty?
7. How does the eligibility requirements ensure that the President, especially as Commander in Chief, holds full allegiance for the United States?
8. How was the way the Vice President was chosen in the 18th century different from how the Vice President is chosen today?
Alexander Hamilton, The Law of Nations and the U.S. Constitution, http://east_west_dialogue.tripod.com/vattel/id4.html
Associated Press, "Hillary Clinton Calls for End to Electoral College," CBS News (2009) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/11/10/politics/main248645.shtml
George Washington, The First Inaugural Address of George Washington, The Avalon Project - Yale University (1789/2008) http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/wash1.asp
Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).
Madison's Notes Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp
Marjorie Kehe, "How George Washington racked up a $300,000 fine for overdue library books," Christian Science Monitor, http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2010/0419/How-George-Washington-racked-up-a-300-000-fine-for-overdue-library-books
Mountain Publius Goat, "Law of Nations, 1758 law book defines Natural Born Citizen," Kerchner (2008) http://www.kerchner.com/protectourliberty/goatsledge/20081212%20Law%20of%20Nations.pdf
Naturalization Act of 1790, Harvard University: http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/viewtext/5596748?n=1&imagesize=1200&jp2Res=.25&printThumbnails=no
Ron Paul, "Hands Off The Electoral College," Lew Rockwell (2004) http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul226.html
Ron Paul, "The Electoral College vs. Mob Rule," Lew Rockwell (2004) http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul214.html
Sean Rooney, "The Death of President William Henry Harrison," Associated Content (2008) http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/518591/the_death_of_president_william_henry.html?cat=37
Vatell's Law of Nations: http://www.constitution.org/vattel/vattel_01.htm
Copyright Douglas V. Gibbs 2015
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
By Capt Joseph R. John, July 29, 2019: Op Ed # 443
By clicking on the below listed link, you will be able to listen to a riveting interview of former CIA Officer Kevin Shipp; he is a counterintelligence expert who worked on the seventh floor at Langley as protective staff for then-CIA Director William Casey.
This is a CRITICAL listen! It is an analysis that covers a range of sensitively important topics, improperly reported by the left of center liberal media establishment. It is about one hour long, but it would be well worth your time to listen to an American who is still serving his country. For the last 5 years, Kevin has been a strong supporter of the Combat Veterans For Congress.
Kevin previously stated, that there is a - huge - grassroots movement brewing in our country. These are not fanatics; they are pastors, priests, moms and dads, good government employees, military men and women, and CIA officers he worked with, who cannot speak for themselves. Kevin has been speaking out, and has felt repercussions for speaking out, including affecting his retirement pension.
Kevin discusses the attempt by specific individuals to take down the President of the United States (prior to and after his election), the serious National Security Threat posed by the massive and increasing national deficit, the corruption of the deep state motivated by money and supported by the left of center liberal media establishment, the unauthorized surveillance of American citizens by the NSA, etc.
The attempt to turn the Republic into a Socialist State is being funded by Nazi collaborator, George Soros, driven by the Progressive Coalition in control of the House of Representatives, coordinated by Marxist Tom Perez in control of the Socialist Democratic Party, and supported by many subversive and dark forces in the nation, they include, but are not limited to:
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s promoting ANTIFA, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra promoting MICA, the Communist Party USA, The Muslim Brotherhood International Terrorist Organization, the Marxist Leninist Communist Workers Party Front—“ANSWER”, Black Lives Matter, Bob Avakian’s Revolutionary Communist Party, LA RAZA, the Communist Party’s Progressive Unity Fund, CAIR, The Communist Workers Party, The New Black Panther Party, the hard core Marxist Leninist organization—"World Workers Party”, the Democrat Socialists of America, the Chicago based Communist Industrial Workers of the World, SIEU, Bill Ayer’s Weatherman Underground, Color of Change, Al Sharpton’s “National Action Network”, Women’s Radical Group “Ultra Violet”, the Communist open borders organization “Casa de Maryland”, Indivisible, Act Blue funding Leftist to run for Congress, By any Means Necessary, The Advocate Fund, etc.
After you have had the opportunity to listen to Kevin’s interview, you may want to share it with your fellow Americans who would join with the Combat Veterans For Congress in support of the Republic, the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution, and The Free Enterprise System, and who are opposed to turning the United States into a Socialist State.
Copyright by Capt Joseph R. John. All Rights Reserved. The material can only posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author. It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without the permission from the author.
Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62
Capt USN(Ret)/Former FBI
Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC
2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184
San Diego, CA 92108
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Corona Constitution Class
Tuesdays, 6:00 pm
522 Railroad Street
Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs
Establishing the Legislative Branch
Article I, Section 1: 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.
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 the Congress of the United States. When studying the language used in Article I, Section 1, the original intent by the Founding Fathers becomes clear.
The first word in the first section of Article I is the word "all." The definition of all is "the whole of a particular thing."
The next words in Article I, Section 1 are legislative powers. Legislative powers are the ability to make law, modify law, repeal law, and anything else that has to do with affecting law.
The next word in the clause is "herein." The primary definition of herein is "here in this document."
After herein is the word granted. Granted is defined as "to give," "to allow," or more specifically "to legally transfer." If powers are granted, then there must be a "grantor," as well as a grantee. As we learned in our discussion regarding The Preamble, the "grantor" of the authorities enumerated in the Constitution is the States.
"Shall be" is definitive. The Constitution in its first clause reads, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be. . .," shall be meaning "it is," or "it will be."
"Vested" is much like "granted." Vested is a legal transfer of something, or in this case, an allowance to have legislative powers at the federal level granted to Congress.
The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government, and this clause indicates that not only will the Congress be granted all legislative powers given to the federal government, but that the branch of government consists of two houses; a Senate and House of Representatives.
All legislative powers, according to this clause, are granted to the Congress by the States for the purpose of making law, modifying law, or repealing law. The powers are herein granted, which means that the laws must fall within the authorities granted by the text of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, laws made must remain consistent with the "powers herein granted."
Based on language used in the first clause of the United States Constitution, when members of the judiciary legislates from the bench, or the President issues an executive order to modify a law, such action is unconstitutional. After all, "all legislative powers" were granted to the Congress, not to the judicial branch, or the executive branch.
Since all legislative powers belong to the Congress, that means any regulations by federal departments that are not in line with laws made by the Congress that are in line with the authorities granted by the Constitution are unconstitutional as well. All legislative powers belong to the Congress, therefore any "legislative actions" by regulatory agencies, which are a part of the executive branch, are not in line with the original intent of the Constitution.
Powers the federal government has were "granted" by the States. "We The People of the United States" granted those powers to the federal government through the Constitution. Therefore, if the federal government acts in a manner that is not consistent with the contract between the States and the U.S. Government, the States have the option to ignore those unconstitutional actions by the federal government. This action of ignoring unconstitutional law is the States' way of being the final arbiters of the Constitution. The term for this kind of action by a State is nullification. Thomas Jefferson, in his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, explained that any unconstitutional law is null and void, and as an illegal law, the States have the right to nullify it.
The concept that only Congress has legislative powers, only the executive branch has executive powers, and the judicial branch only has judicial powers, as described in the first sentence of each of the first three articles of the Constitution, is called Separation of Powers. The purpose of this philosophy is to disallow different branches from abusing the powers not granted to that branch, as well as to protect against collusion.
The Separation of Powers also exists between the States, and the federal government. Most authorities granted to the federal government are powers the States did not reserve to themselves. Most authorities retained by the States are not authorized to be administered to by the federal government. There are a few authorities that are concurrent, meaning that both the federal government, and the States, have some authority over the issue. One issue that is concurrent is immigration, which will be addressed later in this book. Sole authority over a particular power is called Exclusive Powers.
House of Representatives
Article I, Section 2 establishes, and defines, the House of Representatives. The members of the House of Representatives are divided among the States proportionally. As it is today, the House of Representatives was the voice of the people in the federal government. Each Representative is chosen to serve for two years, which means every two years every Representative is up for re-election, if they choose to run.
The eligibility of a Representative as explained by Article I, Section 2 requires that the candidate must be at least twenty-five years of age, and been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years. The age is lower than for Senators. Representatives were not expected to be as politically savvy as the Senators, and tended to have less experience. The age requirement simply reflected that. Political knowledge and experience tends to come with age.
Divided allegiance was a serious concern to the Founding Fathers. The requirement that Representatives have been citizens of the United States for at least seven years reflects that concern. Seven years, for a Representative of the people, was assumed to have been long enough for the Representative to have thrown off any allegiances to other nations.
The third clause of Article I, Section 2, includes the 3/5s clause, which was changed by the 14th Amendment following the American Civil War.
The Southern States used slaves for their agricultural economies. The southern states were needed to ratify the new constitution. As a condition for ratifying the Constitution, the southern states demanded that the slaves be counted as one whole person each. The idea was that if the slaves were counted as whole persons, the apportionment would tip the scales in their favor through increased representation in the new United States House of Representatives. White populations in the southern states were lower in number when compared to the northern states, due to the rural nature of the Slave States to the south.
The Northern States, under the heavy influence of merchants, political elitists, and a group of abolitionists, wanted the slaves counted as "zero" in order to reduce the number of representatives the southern states would receive, which would give the majority to the northern states, thus giving the north more legislative power. With this additional voting power in the House of Representatives, the northern states sought to have greater influence on the federal government through legislation. The plan was to use their legislative power to tyrannically force the southern states into submission, and to eventually abandon slavery.
In the interest of compromise, to convince the southern states to ratify the constitution, while giving the northern states the satisfaction that the southern states did not get exactly what they wanted, the decision was made that slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a whole person for the sake of apportionment. In other words, it was not a declaration that they believed blacks to be less than a person, but simply to affect the census in such a way that too much power through apportionment would not be given to either The North or The South, while also ensuring that the Constitution got ratified.
G.R. Mobley, author of We the People, Whose Constitution Is It Anyway?, believes the Founding Fathers missed a great opportunity to abolish slavery. He supports the idea that the 3/5s Clause was an error in judgment by the Founders, and that the authors of the Constitution should have only allowed those States that rejected slavery to be members of the union under the Constitution. By failing to ratify the Constitution the southern slave states would then have been on their own as a separate union. Pressure from the Spanish in Florida, and the threat of invasion by Spanish forces, would have then encouraged the slave states to abolish slavery, so that they may rejoin the union, and enjoy the strength of the union of all thirteen States.
Historically, it is impossible to know if that is exactly how it would have played out. Regardless of the opportunity, the Founders largely believed they had to compromise to ensure every State remained a member of the union, and ensure that they would receive the required nine ratifications of States in order to put the new federal government into motion.
Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, in addition to containing the 3/5s Clause, also establishes the census. The census is a required a head count to be taken once every ten years in order to determine the enumeration for establishing the number of Representatives each State shall receive. The clause also indicates that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand. This means there cannot be more than one Representative for a district of thirty thousand. However, it does not indicate there must be one Representative per thirty thousand. If that was the case, we would have thousands of Representatives.
Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 states that whenever vacancies happen in the House of Representatives, it is the duty of the Executive Authority to issue Writs of Election to fill such vacancies. What this means is that the Governors of the States have the duty to ensure there is a special election to fill any vacancies that may happen in the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives chooses for itself its own Speaker of the House, and other officers.
According to Article I, Section 2, Clause 5, the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. To impeach is to charge with misconduct. The formal process of impeachment may lead to removal of an official accused of unlawful activity or other offenses deemed to be impeachable offenses. Impeachment is not defined as removal from office, though removal from office is often the result of impeachment proceedings. In history, two presidents have been impeached, but neither were removed from office. The presidents who faced impeachment were Andrew Johnson (serving as President of the United States from 1865 to 1869), and William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001). President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings began.
The United States Senate
Article I, Section 3 established, and defines, the United States Senate. The representation of the States in the U.S. Senate is equal, two per State. The Senators serve for six years, which means every two years an election is held for one-third of the Senate seats. The required minimum age of a Senator is thirty years, five years older than that of a Representative. The increased age requirement for Senators reveals the importance of longer life and political experience, as considered by the Founding Fathers. Allegiance to the United States also remained important to the framers in the U.S. Senate, requiring that Senators need to be nine years a citizen of the United States, rather than the seven years as required of Representatives.
Article I, Section 3 originally required that Senators were chosen by the legislatures of the States, rather than voted into office directly by the voters. The appointment of Senators by their State legislatures changed to the vote of the people in 1913 with the ratification of the 17th Amendment. By the State legislatures appointing the Senators, it made the Senate the voice of the States, while the House of Representatives was the voice of the people. By the Houses of Congress being different, it created a natural check and balance, which did not allow the representation of the people to accomplish anything without approval of the voice of the States, and vice versa.
Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 establishes the Vice President as the President of the Senate. The Vice President, though a member of the executive branch, is also connected to the legislative branch. The Vice President may preside over the sessions of the U.S. Senate, and even participate in the debates, but in the end, the Vice President has no vote in the U.S. Senate, except as the tie-breaking vote.
During the early days of our nation the Vice President attended a large number of sessions of the Senate. He served as the voice of the executive branch in the Senate, ensuring the States' representation in Congress had the opportunity to be exposed to the executive branch's opinions regarding the issues that concerned the States, and the union as a whole.
As with the House of Representatives, the Senate chooses its own officers. One of those officers is the President pro tempore, which is the President of the Senate when the Vice President is not present.
The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 gives the U.S. Senate the authority to try all impeachments. No conviction can be reached unless two-thirds of the U.S. Senate membership is present. Impeachment cannot extend further than the removal of the impeached from office, and the disqualification to hold any office in the future. However, a legal case can still be brought against the convicted from other sources, according to the law. Since the U.S. Senators were originally appointed by the legislatures of the individual States, this means that impeachment charges could be brought by the people (House of Representatives), but it took the States (Senate) to hear the case, and make the final determination after all evidence was provided. During impeachment hearings, the Chief Justice presides over the hearing, as provided by Article I, Section 3.
The 17th Amendment changed the dynamics of our governmental system. Note that many functions by the executive branch are subject to the advise and 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. This is because actions by the federal government are subject to approval by the States. The States granted the federal government its powers in the first place.
The House of Representatives, as the voice of the people, and the Senate, as the voice of the States, and the natural check and balance that is the result of that relationship between those two Houses of Congress, also enables both Houses together to be a valuable check against the executive branch. One of the emanations of that correlation is the ability of Congress to override a veto with a 2/3 vote. The authority to override vetoes was established to enable the People, and the States, when they are in full agreement regarding a proposed bill, to be able to ensure a law is put into place, and to constrain the executive together through the power of combined vote.
Elections and Assembly of Congress
Article I, Section 4 begins, "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof." This clause establishes that each State may have its own methods for electing members of the Congress. The same applies, as determined in Article II, to presidential elections. If there is a discrepancy, or a question regarding the acceptance of ballots, it is not the job of the courts to make final determination. Article I, Section 4 gives that authority to the State legislatures.
The same clause adds, after giving the State legislatures authority over federal elections, that "Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators."
Congress, as discussed earlier, is bicameral. The two Houses of Congress are the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. The House of Representatives, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, was designed to be as it is now, the voice of the people. Representatives have always been elected by a direct vote. The United States Senate was the voice of the States, appointed by the State legislatures. The appointment of the Senators by representatives of the people is an example of an indirect vote.
As the representation of the people, and the States, Congress was not seen as the greatest potential danger in the federal government. Congress was the voice of the people and the States in the federal government; the eyes of the parents to ensure the central government did not grow beyond the authorities granted to it. With Congress representing the oversight by the people, and the States, the oversight powers given to the federal legislature often led to other authorities that allowed Congress to act as a check and balance against potentially dangerous government activity. Giving Congress oversight authorities was a way to ensure that Congress participated in the concept of a government "by the consent of the governed."
Though elections were established with the State legislatures prescribing the times, places and manner of holding elections, as a check and balance against that authority, Congress may pass laws to "make or alter such regulations."
At the end of the clause giving Congress the authority to act as an oversight regarding the manner in which elections are held, a qualifier is present, expressing, "except as to the Places of chusing Senators."
A majority of delegates at the Federal Convention in 1787, by the conclusion of the assembly, were strong supporters of the sovereignty of the States, and the parental nature of the States in relation to the newly formed federal government, and the duty of the States as the final arbiters of the United States Constitution to ensure the new government functioned within the limitations granted to it. A part of that function by the States included the very important fact that the States had a voice in Congress with appointed U.S. Senators. The framers did not want that authority to be tinkered with, so they remind future generations at the end of this clause that though Congress has lawmaking authorities, and oversight authorities, manipulating the dynamics of government where the people, and the States, have a voice in the United States Congress is something not to be fiddled with. A similar advisement also appears at the end of Article V., "and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."
Oversight powers by the States were seen by the framers as being a right of the States, and as with natural rights of the people, a right is not something that should be able to be taken, but if the holder of the right wishes to give it away, no law can prevent such a foolish action.
The second paragraph of Article I, Section 4 reads, "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year." The first thought regarding this clause by the typical reader may be, "Of course. How can they get anything done if Congress isn't assembling?"
Another question may be, "Why did the framers feel it to be necessary to insert this clause into the Constitution?"
During the convention in 1787, there were some who felt this clause was "overburdensome." Government was not supposed to dominate their everyday lives. The members of Congress were not professional politicians, nor did they care to be. They had businesses to run, and lives to live. Surely, the attitude of many of the Founding Fathers was, there is not enough business to compel Congress to meet every single year!
Those who supported the concept of an annual meeting reminded the others that Congress was the check the people and the States had available to them in the federal government. It was the duty of Congress to serve as a check against the President, and the federal judiciary. To be an effective check, Congress must meet at least once per year. The clause, it was argued, was for the benefit of the people.
In present day politics, the opposite seems to be the norm. Government is viewed as being broken if they do not act on an endless and constant flow of issues, committees, and crises. Politicians view their position as their job, rather than a service they are providing.
Originally, the required meeting day was the first Monday in December. That was later changed to noon on the third day of January by the 20th Amendment.
Article I, Section 5 requires Congress to have a minimum number of members present in order to do business. That majority constitutes a quorum, and if the Congress deems it necessary, the present members may set fines for members who do not show up. The Houses of Congress may remain in session, during which no formal business is conducted because the House does not have a quorum, so as to prevent executive actions that may be carried out during recess. This kind of session is called a pro forma session.
In Article II, Section 2, the President is given the authority to make recess appointments, when Congress is not in session. Normally, the United States Senate has advise and consent authority over appointments, which means that appointments of personnel to fill vacancies are possible for the President to grant, but such appointments requires the approval of the United States Senate (voice of the States). If the Senate is not in session, and an appointment is necessary, the President may make appointments, but the terms of those appointments only last to the end of the Senate's next session. If the Senate is in a pro-forma session, the President may not make any appointments. With Congress only in session when there is work to be done, and the Founders believing that would likely only be once a year, the ability of the President to make appointments when Congress is not in session was a valuable, and necessary, tool. In today's political environment, it seems like Congress is always in session, so recess appointments are not as common.
In early January of 2012, President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray the new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a powerful bureaucracy created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation. However, even though most of the members of Congress were on vacation, the United States Senate was still in session. President Obama's definition of recess, it turned out, was broader than the Constitution's definition. In reality, the U.S. Senate was in pro-forma session. John Berlau, Director of CEI's Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs, called the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray "very troubling," criticizing both Obama's controversial use of a recess appointment, and the selection of Cordray itself. Berlau later asked, "What's next, appointing nominees when the Senate takes a bathroom break?"
Article I, Section 5 also allows each House of Congress to determine 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 used when Charles Rangel broke the rules of the House of Representatives. He faced a panel for his actions, and was punished by censure in December of 2010. He later sued, spending about a third of his 2014 campaign cash on legal bills in a failed bid to overturn his fall from congressional grace. On December 11, 2013, a federal judge in Washington dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Rangel in the previous April, to get the censure overturned.
The mandate to keep a journal to record proceedings and votes was included in this section because the Founders wanted government to be transparent, accessible, and accountable to the people. Deals behind closed doors were not supposed to be a part of our political system.
Congressional Compensation, Privileges, Restrictions
When President George Washington took office, he refused to accept the constitutionally allowed compensation for holding the office. He viewed his office as being a privilege, and an opportunity to once again serve the country he loved. During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. By the end of the debate, it was decided that government representatives should receive fixed stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service. It was also determined, however, that the compensation should not be so high that it would become the motive for seeking office.
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution addresses 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.
Protection from arrest while traveling to and from Congress was not only a privilege based on those enjoyed by their counterparts in the British Parliament, but also a protection from political enemies who may wish to keep certain members of Congress from voting.
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.
To explain this clause, let's visit a recent violation of it during the Obama administration.
After Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election, he announced that Hillary Clinton would be his new Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State received a pay raise while Hillary Clinton was a member of the United States Senate. Article I, Section 6 states that "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 be been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time." Since Clinton was a Senator at the time the position of Secretary of State was given a raise, technically she was not eligible for the position to which she was appointed. To resolve this problem, and still allow Mrs. Clinton to accept the position, the Democrats applied the Saxbe Fix, meaning they undid the raise, and Hillary Clinton received the compensation that was in place before the vote she participated in while in the Senate. The Saxbe Fix, or a Salary rollback, is an unconstitutional action. The clause in the Constitution is clear: "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 encreased during such time."
The Saxbe Fix, or the rollback of the salary, does not change the fact that the emoluments increased during the time Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate.
As a tool, the Saxbe fix was nothing new. The salary rollback in the case of a violation of Article I, Section 6, a mechanism by which the President of the United States can avoid restrictions by the United States Constitution which prohibits the President from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to an office position for which the pay and/or benefits were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired, was first used in 1909. The "Saxbe" name was applied to the political maneuver later in history. The Saxbe Fix is named for William Saxbe, a Senator appointed Attorney General by President Richard Nixon in 1973.
Adjourn: Suspend proceedings to a later time and/or place.
Censure: Procedure for publicly reprimanding a public official for inappropriate behavior. There are normally no legal consequences. Censure is not mentioned in the Constitution, but is a procedure devised by the legislature as a tool for formal condemnation of a member of the congressional body.
Congress of the United States: The legislative branch of the federal government which consists of two houses; a Senate and House of Representatives. The Congress is the only part of the federal government granted the authority of legislative powers.
Granted: To confer, give, or bestow. A gift of legal rights or privileges, or a recognition of asserted rights, as in treaty. To legally transfer.
Impeachment: To charge with misconduct. Formal process that may lead to removal of an official accused of unlawful activity; impeachment does not mean the removal from office, though removal from office is often the result of impeachment proceedings.
Legislative Powers: The ability to make law, modify law, repeal law, and anything else that has to do with affecting law.
Nullification: State power to ignore unconstitutional federal law.
President pro tempore: Second highest ranking official of the United States Senate. Vice President is President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body. During the Vice President's absence, the president pro tempore presides over its sessions or appoints another senator to do so. The president pro tempore is elected by the Senate and is customarily the most senior senator in the majority party.
Pro Forma Session: A session in either house of the United States Congress at which no formal business is expected to be conducted, so as to fulfill the obligation "that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other." Pro forma sessions are also used to prevent the President from pocket-vetoing bills, calling the Congress into a special session, and to prevent the President from making recess appointments.
Quorum: Minimum number of members of an assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group.
Saxby Fix: Salary rollback. A mechanism by which the President of the United States can avoid restrictions by the United States Constitution which prohibits the President from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to an office position for which the pay and/or benefits were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired. First used in 1909, the Saxbe Fix is named for William Saxbe, a Senator appointed to Attorney General by Nixon in 1973.
Questions for Discussion:
1. If only Congress can make law, then why do some politicians believe that Executive Orders can modify law, or that regulatory agencies can create new regulations to enforce laws that were never passed by Congress?
2. The word "granted" reminds us that all powers once belonged to the States, and some of those authorities were "granted" to the federal government for the purpose of carrying out the tasks necessary for the protection, preservation, and promotion of the union. If the federal government was created by the States, then how can statists justify their belief that all federal laws trump all State laws?
3. Why do you think the Congress has two legislative houses?
4. Why do you think representatives are only elected for two years?
5. Why is it significant that only the House can originate bills for raising revenue?
6. Why is the power of impeachment belonging to the House so important?
7. As President of the Senate, what kind of role should the Vice President play in the day to day activities of the United States Senate?
8. Why do you think the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment, but the Senate has the task of hearing the case?
9. How are the dynamics of our governmental system different in relation to how the Senators are appointed, or voted for?
10. How was the Senate expected to check the House of Representatives, and work together with the House to check the Executive and Judiciary?
11. Why do you think the authority for prescribing the times, places, and manner of holding elections was given to the State Legislatures?
12. Why was Congress given the allowance to pass laws that may make or alter such regulations?
13. Why was the federal government prohibited from influencing the places for choosing Senators?
14. To conduct business, the houses of Congress need a quorum. If they do not have a majority, they may remain in session through a rule established by Congress called pro forma. What advantages does pro forma give the houses of Congress when it comes as serving as a check against the executive branch?
15. Why do you think neither house can adjourn without the permission of the other?
16. The houses of Congress establish their own rules of procedure. If a member breaks any of these rules, Congress also has the authority to punish the rule breaker. One type of punishment is called censure. How is censure an adequate punishment?
17. How has the concept of transparency changed over the last two hundred years?
Edwin Mora, "Top Democrat Dodges Question on Constitutionality of Obama Appointments, Says Pro Forma Sessions Are 'Games Being Played'," CNSnews.com (January 6, 2012): http://cnsnews.com/news/article/top-democrat-dodges-question-constitutionality-obama-appointments-says-pro-forma
Free Dictionary by Farlex; http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Grant
Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).
Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States; New York: Sentinel (2004).
Madison's Notes on the Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp
Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, The Founder's Constitution - Volume Two - Preamble through Article I, Section 8, Clause 4; Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (1987).
Saxbe, William B. I've Seen the Elephant: An Autobiography. Kent State University Press (2000).
Copyright: Douglas V. Gibbs, 2014