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Article Four: States' powers and limits
Articles of the Constitution.The Constitution consists of a preamble, seven original articles, twenty-seven amendments, and a paragraph certifying its enactment by the constitutional convention. Preamble: Statement of purpose
The phrase "We the People" indicates that the government of the United States "is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people," rather than a league of the states.
Article One: Legislative Power.Article One describes the Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The United States Congress is a bicameral body consisting of two co-equal houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The article establishes the manner of election and the qualifications of members of each body. Representatives must be at least 25 years old, be a citizen of the United States for seven years, and live in the state they represent. Senators must be at least 30 years old, be a citizen for nine years, and live in the state they represent.
Article I Section 8 enumerates the legislative powers. The powers listed and all other powers are made the exclusive responsibility of the legislative branch:
The Congress shall have power... 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.
Article Two: Executive power.Section 1 creates the presidency. The section states that the executive power is vested in a President. The presidential term is four years and the Vice President serves the identical term. This section originally set the method of electing the President and Vice President, but this method has been superseded by the Twelfth Amendment.
Qualifications. The President must be a natural born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
Succession. Section 1 specifies that the Vice President succeeds to the presidency if the President is removed, unable to discharge the powers and duties of office, dies while in office, or resigns.
Section 2 grants substantive powers to the president:
The president is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and of the state militias when these are called into federal service.
The president may require opinions of the principal officers of the federal government.
The president may grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of impeachment (i.e., the president cannot pardon himself or herself to escape impeachment by Congress).
Section 2 grants and limits the president's appointment powers:
The president may make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided two-thirds of the Senators who are present agree.
With the advice and consent of the Senate, the President may appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not otherwise described in the Constitution.
Congress may give the power to appoint lower officers to the President alone, to the courts, or to the heads of departments.
Article Three: Judicial power.Article Three describes the court system (the judicial branch), including the Supreme Court. The article requires that there be one court called the Supreme Court; Congress, at its discretion, can create lower courts, whose judgments and orders are reviewable by the Supreme Court. Article Three also creates the right to trial by jury in all criminal cases, defines the crime of treason, and charges Congress with providing for a punishment for it. This Article also sets the kinds of cases that may be heard by the federal judiciary, which cases the Supreme Court may hear first (called original jurisdiction), and that all other cases heard by the Supreme Court are by appeal under such regulations as the Congress shall make.