American Constitution Q’s and A’s

What is the US Constitution
The highest law of the USA
When was it written
May to Sept 1787
Who wrote the U.S. Constitution?
Gouverneur Morris wrote it in its final form, but it was the outgrowth of ideas and compromises of the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Among the leaders were George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton
How many delegates attended the Constitutional Convention?
55 from twelve of the thirteen states
What state did not send a delegate
Rhode Island
How many of the delegates signed the Constitution?
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When was the Constitution adopted?
July 2, 1788, but did not go into effect till March 4, 1789
How many states had to ratify before it was adopted?
9/13. Three fourths of the states.
by what date had nine states ratified it?
June 21, 1788
What is the Preamble to the Constitution?
An introduction listing 6 reasons for writing the Constitution.
What are the 6 reasons (listed in the preamble) for writing the constitution?
1. To form a more perfect union
2. Establish Justice
3. Insure domestic tranquillity
4. provide for the common defense
5. promote the general welfare
6. secure the blessings of liberty for our selves and our posterity.
What are the 3 branches of our federal government?
1. The legislative
2. The executive
3. The judicial
Where in the constitution do we find information about the legislative branch?
Article I; Amendments 16, 17, 20, and 27
What is the legislative branch?
What is congress?
The lawmaking body of our national government.
Of what is Congress composed?
2 Houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate
How is member in the House of Representatives determined?
By the population of the various states
How many representatives are there in the House of Representatives?
Approximately how many people does each representative represent (in the House)?
Why does each member in the House of Representatives represent so many people?
Congress passed a law limiting the number of representatives to 435 in 1929, the keep the House from growing so large it could not operate effectively.
How do representatives get their offices?
They are elected by the people of their states.
What qualification must a person meet to be a representative?
He must be at least 25 years old, have been a citizen of the USA for at least 7 years, and must live in the district of the state he represents.
What requirements must a person meet to be a voter in most states?
He must be a citizen of the USA, must have reached 18 years old, and must be resistered to vote.
How do we know the population of each state?
The federal government takes a census every ten years (On the “0” years)
How long is a representative’s term of office?
2 years
What happens if a representative dies in office, or for some reason must vacate his office?
The governor of his state calls a special election to replace him.
Who is the chairman of the House?
The Speaker of the House
Who are some of the other officers in the House?
The chaplain, the sergeant at arms, the clerk, and the parliamentarian.
How are officers in the House chosen?
They are nominated by a caucus of the majority party in the House and elected by the members of the House.
How is representation in the Senate determined?
By equal representation, two senators from each state.
How many senators are there?
How do senators get their offices?
They are elected by the people of their states, the same as representatives.
What qualifications must a person meet to be a senator?
he must be at least 30 years old, have been a citizen of the United States for at least 9 years, and live in the state he represents.
Have senators always been elected by the people?
No, originally only the House was elected by the people. The senators were chosen in each state by the state legislatures. Amendment 17, ratified in 1913, gave the people of the states the right to elect senators.
How long is a senator’s term of office?
6 years, but we elect one third of the senators every 2 years the same day we elect the representatives
How is this possible that the senate’s term is 6 years but we elect members every 2 years?
The first Senate was divided into three groups. One group was to serve two years, one four years, and one six.
Why was the 1st Senate divided into 3 groups?
To always have experienced men in the Senate.
What happens if a senator dies in office, or for some reason must vacate his office?
The governor of his state, with the permission of the state legislature, may appoint a temporary senator, or he may call a special election to replace him.
Who is the chairman of the Senate
The Vice President
How can the Vice President be the Chairman of the Senate
The constitution makes this a duty of the Vice President. Remember, the Senate was not elected by the people at first.
Can the Vice-President vote in the Senate?
No, except to break a tie vote
What is the Vice-President called when he presides over the Senate?
President of the Senate
Who acts as chairman of the Senate if the Vice-President, for some reason cannot be present?
The president pro temper of the Senate
Who are some of the other officers of the Senate?
The chaplain, the sergeant at arms, the secretary, and the clerk
How are officers elected?
By the senators
What is an impeachment trial?
A trial to remove a public official fro office.
Who does the impeaching in an impeachment trial?
The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment (accusing the official)
Who tries an impeachment case?
The Senate has the sole power of trying impeachment cases
Wha is a quorum in the Senate for the purpose of trying impeachments?
2/3 of the senators.
How large a vote does it take to convict an official being tried for impeachment?
2/3 of all the senators present
Who may be impeached?
Any public official except a member of either house of Congress
How is a congressman removed from office?
he is expelled by a 2/3 vote of his house
How may an impeached official be punished if he is found guilty?
There is no punishment expect removal from office and loss of the right soever hold another office of the United States
What if he has committed a crime, and is impeached due to that crime?
After the impeachment trial he may be tried in the regular courts
Is it fair for the Vice-President to preside over the senate at the impeachment trial of a President, when he is next in line for that office?
The Vice-President does not preside over the Senate at the impeachment trial of a President, when he is next in line for that office.
When are congressmen elected?
The Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November of even-numbered years.
When do congressmen take office?
January 3 following the election in November
Who judges the qualifications of persons elected to congress?
Each house judges its newly elected members and may refuse by a majority vote to let an unqualified person his seat.
What is a quorum for business in each house?
A majority of the members
How do we know what happens in Congress?
Each house keeps a journal of what it does each day, and the information from these journals is published in the “Congressional Record” each day Congress is in session.
Is everything said and done published in the “Congressional Record”
No, some matters may be kept secret, if necessary.
Do both houses always meet at the same time?
Yes, the Constitution requires them to meet at the same time and place; and neither house may adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.
How often must Congress meet?
At lease once a year, but they usually hold meetings for about nine months out of the year.
Are congressmen paid for their services?
Yes, they receive $133,600 a year. The Speaker of the House receives $171,500 a year.
What is congressional immunity?
No congressman may be arrested in or going to or from either house of Congress except for treason, felony, or breach of peace; and no congressman may be sued for what he says on the floor of either house.
May congressmen hold other offices in the United States government?
No congressman may accept any United States office that has been set up or any that has had an increase in salary during the time he is in office. No person, while still holding any United States office, may be a congressman.
What is a bill?
A proposed law?
How does a bill become law?
It must pass both houses of Congress by a majority vote and be signed by the President.
What is a veto?
The President’s power to refuse to sign a bill, and to send it back to the house where it originated, along with his objections to it.
What happens if the President vetoes a bill?
It is returned to the house where it originated. It must then receive a 2/3 vote in each house to become law without the President’s signature. If this is done, we call it overriding the veto. If not, we call it sustaining the veto.
What if the President neither signs nor vetoes a bill?
It becomes a law without his signature in ten days (not counting Sundays) unless Congress adjourns within that time. In that case, it does not become a law. We say it has received a “pocket veto”
Can a bill originate in either house of Congress?
Yes, except for a tax bill, which must originate in the House of Representatives.
May either house amend a bill of the other?
Yes, but it must be returned to the house where it originated, and that house may agree to the amendments or make further amendments of its own.
Must the President see resolutions passed by Congress, as well as bills?
Yes, except for a resolution to adjourn, a non legislative resolution, or a joint resolution for proposing an amendment to the constitution.
Why must the President see resolutions made by Congress?
To keep from being bypassed by a law that Congress has called a resolution.
How are resolutions passed?
In the same manner as bills.
Wha are some of the expressed powers of Congress?
To tax, to borrow money, to regulate commerce, to make naturalization and bankruptcy laws, to coin money, to fix the standard of weights and measures, to punish counterfeiters, to establish post offices and post roads, to make copyright and patent laws, to establish federal courts, to punish crimes at sea, to declare war, to raise and support armed forces, to organize and regulate states’ militias, and to control the District of Columbia and all United States government property in the states.
What is meant by implied powers of congress?
The power given by the “elastic clause,” which says that congress may pass any law needed to see that its powers are carried out
What powers are forbidden to Congress?
To take away writs of “habeas corpus,” to pass “ex post facto” laws or bills of attainder, to tax exports, to give advantages to ports of any state, to tax goods shipped by water to or from a state, to withdraw money from the Treasury with our an act of Congress, to fail to account for and make public all money received and spent, or to grant titles of nobility.
What powers are forbidden to states?
To make treaties, alliances, or confederations, to grant letters of marque and reprisal to coin or print money, to back money with anything other than gold and silver, to pass bills of attainder, “export facto” laws, or laws destroying the obligation of contracts; and without Congress’ consent, grant titles of nobility, tax imports or exports, except to pay inspection fees, tax tonnage, keep troops or warships in peacetime, make treaties or compacts with other states or freeing countries, or fight a way except when attacked.
Where can information about the executive branch be found in the Constitution?
Article 2; Amendments 12, 20, 22, 23, and 25.
What is the executive branch?
The president, the Vice-President, and the President’s Cabinet, and all other departments under the President.
What is the President’s main function?
To see that the United States laws are enforced, or carried out.
Who elects the President and Vice-President?
The Electoral college
What is the electoral college?
All the electors in the United States
What is an elector?
A person elected by the people of a state to cast a vote for President and Vice-President.
How do electors vote?
They meet in their state capitals, cast a vote for a president and vice-presidential candidate by name, make a list of the number of votes cast for each candidate for each office, sigh, seal, and certify the ballots, and send them to the President of the Senate in Washington D.C.
How are the electoral votes from all the states counted?
They are counted in the presence of both houses of Congress.
How many electors are there?
1 for each senator and each representative from each state, plus 3 in the District of Columbia. A total of 538.
How are a president and Vice Present elected?
The presidential and vice-presidential candidates who receive a majority of the electoral votes cast for each office are elected
What if no presidential candidate has a majority?
The House of Representatives elects a President from the three candidates with the most electoral votes for that office. A quorum in the House for this purpose is one or more members from two thirds of the states. The vote is taken by state ballot and each state has one vote. A majority of the states is necessary to elect a President.
What if no vice presidential candidate gets a majority of electoral votes?
The Senate elects a Vice President from the two candidates with the most electoral votes for that office. A quorum in the Senate for this purpose is two thirds of the senators. Each senator has one vote, and a majority vote is necessary to elect a Vice President.
When are electors elected?
The Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every fourth year.
When do electors vote?
The Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the election.
When does Congress count the electoral votes?
January 6 following the election unless that day is Sunday, in which case, it is the next day.
How long are the terms of office for President and Vice-President?
4 years each
How many terms may a president serve?
2 unless he has served or acted as President for more than half a term to which someone else was elected. In that case, he may serve only one more term. He may serve two more full terms if he has served or acted as President for less than half a term to which someone else was elected.
What qualifications must a person meet to be elected President?
He must be a natural born citizen, be at least 35 years old, and have lived in the United States at least 14 years.
What is meant by Presidential succession?
The order in which persons are to fill the office during a term if the President dies, resigns, or is removed.
What is the line of succession?
Vice-President, speaker of the house, president pro tempore of the Senate, the President’s Cabinet in the order of the establishment of their offices except for the Secretary of Healthy and Human Services, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and the Secretary of Transportation, who are not included.
Is the President paid for his services?
Yes, he receies $400,000 a year plus $50,000 expense allowance
Is the Vice President paid for his services?
Yes, he receives $230,700, plus $10,000 in expense allowance
What is the inauguration of the President?
The ceremony in which the President-elect accepts the office by taking the presidential oath.
What is the President’s oath of office?
I do solemnly swear that i will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.
What happens is a President-elect dies before he takes office?
The Vice President become President.
What happens if the President-elect cannot qualify for the office, of if no President has been elected by the time that the President must take office?
The Vice President acts as President until the time a President qualifies or is elected.
What happen if neither the President elect not the Vice President elect can qualify for office.
congress may direct, by law, who shall act as President, or the manner in which an acting President may be chosen. The acting President shall serve until a qualified president or Vice President is elected.
What happens when the House must elect a President, and one or more of the presidential candidates from among the three with the most electoral votes dies; and what happens when the Senate must elect a Vice-President, and either or both of the canidates with the highest number of electoral votes dies?
Congress may provide for these cases by law. It has not yet done so.
What are some of the powers and duties of the President?
To be Commander in Chief of the armed forces; to require written reports from the heads of the executive departments; to grant reprieves and pardons except for impeachments cases; to make treaties, with the consent of two thirds of the Senate; to appoint an ambassadors, public ministers, consuls, Supreme Court Judges, and other officers of the United States, with the consent of the Senate; to make temporary appointments, without the Senate’s consent, if the Senate has recessed; to make a “state of the union” message to Congress each session; to convene either or both houses of congress on extraordinary occasions; to adjourn Congress, if the houses of Congress cannot agree on a date for adjournment; to receive ambassadors and other public ministers; to see that our laws are faithfully execute; and to commission all officers of the United States.
How may a President or Vice-President be removed from office?
By impeachment, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes, or misdemeanors.
What is the President’s Cabinet?
Persons who head certain executive departments and act as advisers to the President.
How are Cabinet members chosen?
They are appointed by the President, with the consent of the Senate.
How long do Cabinet members serve?
No set period of time.
Are they paid for their services?
Yes, $148,400 a year.
What are the Cabinet officers?
Secretary of State. Secretary of the Treasury. Secretary of Defense. Attorney General. Secretary of the Interior. Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary of Commerce. Secretary of labor. Secretary of Health and Human sevices. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Secretary of Transportation. Secretary of Energy. Secretary of Education, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Where can information concerning the judicial branch be found in the Constitution?
Article 3; Amendment 11
What is the judicial branch?
The Supreme Court of the United States and all other federal courts.
How are federal courts set up?
The Constitution establishes the Supreme Court, and Congress establishes all those under the Supreme court (inferior federal courts.)
What is the main function of the federal courts?
To interpret the laws of the United States.
What kinds of federal courts are there?
Regular federal courts and special federal courts.
What are regular federal courts?
Federal courts that hear and try criminal, civil, and equity cases
What are special federal courts?
Federal courts that hear and judge civil and equity cases of a certain specific types
How many regular and special federal courts are there?
Three regular and seven special
What are the three regular federal courts?
The Supreme Court, the court of appeals, and the district courts.
What are the seven special federal courts?
Court of Federal Claims, Court of appeals for the Federal Circuit, Court of International Trade, Tax Court, the Court of Veterans Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the Territorial District Courts.
How long do judges serve?
For life, fifteen years, or ten years, depending on court served.
What is meant by the jurisdiction of a court?
The power of a court to hear and try certain kinds of cases.
Over what kinds of cases do the federal courts have jurisdiction?
All cases concerning the Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States; all cases affection ambassadors, public ministers, and consuls; all cases concerning crimes at sea; all cases concerning controversies to which the United States is a party; and all cases concerning controversies between two or more states, between citizens of different states and between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states.
What is meant by original jurisdiction?
The power of a court to try certain cases first.
What is meant by appellate jurisdiction?
The power of a court to retry a cases already tried in a lower court.
Does the Supreme Court have both original and appellate jurisdiction?
Over what kinds of cases does the Supreme court have original jurisdiction?
Cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers, and consults; and cases concerning disputes between states.
Over what kind of cases does the Supreme Court have appellate jurisdiction?
All other cases mentioned in the Constitution.
What are the judges of the Supreme Court called?
How many federal judges are there?
Nine, one Chief Justice and eight associate justices.
Are Supreme Court justices paid for their services
Yes, the Chief Justice receives $171,500 a year, and the associate justices receive $164,100 a year. Their salaries cannot be lowered while they hold office.
What are the salaries of other federal judges?
Judges of the U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the U.s>s Tax Court, and the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals receive $133,600 a year . Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the fFederal Circuit receive $145,000 a year. Judges of the U.S. Courts of appeals receive $141,700 a year. Judges of the U.S. Territorial District Courts receive $136,700 a year. Their salaries cannot be lowered while they hold office.
What is treason
Making war against the United States or helping the enemies of the United States.
What is necessary to convict a person of treason?
The testimony of two persons who saw the accused person commit an open act of treason, or a confession to the act by the accused.
How is a traitor punished?
Usually by death or imprisonment, but a convicted traitor’s family cannot be make to suffer for his crime, no can his property be confiscated, except during his lifetime.
Do states recognize the laws, records, and count decisions of other states?
yes, but only in matters concerning civil law. No state tries to enforce the criminal laws of another state unless they happen to be the same in that state.
Do citizens of one state have the same rights and protections in all other states?
Yes, but they are not allowed to vote in another state unless they first become a citizen of that state.
What is meant by extradition?
The return of a fugitive from justice from one state, by the governor of that state, to the state from which he escaped, at the request of the governor of that state.
Who admits new state to the Union?
Congress, but no new state may be made by dividing a state, or by combining or taking parts of two or more states, without the consent of Congress and the states’ legislatures involved.
Who controls and makes rules for all United States territories and other government-owned property?
What three guarantees are made to the state by Congress?
A republican (representative) form of government, protection against invasion, and when asked for, protection against riots and mob action.
How may an amendment to the Constitution be proposed?
By a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by Congress at the request of two thirds of the states’ legislatures.
How may a proposed amendment be ratified?
by three fourths of the states’ legislatures or by special constitutional conventions held in three fourths of the states.
What amendment cannot be proposed?
An amendement to take away any state’s right to equal representation in the Senate, without that state’s consent.
If a state constitution or state law conflicts with the United States Constitution or a United States law or treaty, which does away with the other?
The United States Constitution and United States laws and treaties must be obeyed over any state constitution or state law.
How do the laws of the United States rank in this respect?
The United States Constitution. United States laws and treaties. State constitutions. state laws. local laws.
Which is higher, United States laws or treaties?
neither; whichever is more recent applies.
What are all officers of the United States government and of the states’ governments required to do?
Take an oath to support the United States Constitution.
What is the Bill of Rights?
The first ten amendments to the Constitution.
When was the Bill of Rights ratified?
December 15, 1791
Why was the Bill of Rights written?
The people of the United Stated wanted their personal rights written into the Constitution.
What five freedoms are guaranteed to the people by Amendment 1?
Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
Why are people given the right to bear arms?
So the state may have well-trained militias.
May Congress order soldiers to be quartered in private homes?
Not in peacetime, and only by law in wartime.
What is warrant?
A court order allowing a person to be arrested or searched; or allowing his property to be searched or seized; or all of these things.
May people and their property be searched and seized?
Only if a warrant has been sword against them stating who and what may be searched or seized, and where the search or seizure is to take place.
What protections does a person accused of a crime have?
He must be indicted by a a grand jury, he cannot be placed in double jeopardy, he cannot be made to give evidence against himself, and he may no be execute, imprisoned, or fined except by due process of law.
What is meant by double jeopardy?
If a person has been tried and found innocent, he cannot be tried again for the same crime.
What is meant by due process of law?
Fair court actions based upon fair laws.
Amy the United States government take private property for public use?
Yes, but a fair price must be paid for it.
What rights does a person accused of a crime have?
The right to a public trial as soon as possible, to an impartial jury, to hear charges made against him, to hear witnesses against him, to call a witnesses to testify for him, and to a lawyer’s services.
may a person involved in a civil suite have a jury trial?
Yes, if the value of the object of dispute is or than $20.
May a person be required to pay unreasonably high bail or fines?
What type of punishment may not be used against person convicted of a crime?
Cruel or unusual punishments, such as torture or branding.
Are all the rights of the people listed in the Constitution?
No, they are too numerous to list.
What is meant by the “reserved” powers of the state?
Any powers of Congress not specifically denied to the states are powers reserved for the states.
What two types of cases that were once under the jurisdiction of federal courts are denied to the federal courts by Amendment 11?
The right to try cases involving a dispute between a state and citizens of that state; and disputes between a state an d a foreign country, or citizens or subjects of a foreign country.
Where are these cases tried?
In the state courts
Amendment 13 ended what terrible wrong?
Are all persons born or naturalized in the United States citizens of the United States and the state in which they live?
Yes, of the United States, and of the state, provided they have lived in the state long enough.
May a state take away life, liberty, or property without due process of law?
May a person be denied the right to vote because of his color or race?
What direct tax is provided for by Amendment 16?
The federal income tax.
What is the income tax?
A tax on earnings- the more earned, the greater the percentage of the earnings collected by the tax.
What was national “prohibition”?
Amendment 18 made illegal the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.
How long did prohibition last?
What ended national “prohibition”?
Amendment 21 repealed Amendment 18. This ended “prohibition”?
May states have “prohibition”?
Do any states have “prohibition”?
No. Some counties within states have it.
Have women always had the right to vote in the United States?
No, they were given this right by Amendment 19 in 1920.
Have the people of the District of Columbia always voted in presidential elections?
Why have the people of the District of Columbia not always had the right to vote in presidential elections?
It is not a state and has no representatives or senators, so it was not entitled to any electors until the Constitution was amended in 1961?
What is a poll tax?
A voting tax collected to pay the cost of holding an election, and in some cases, to prevent certain citizens, who cannot afford to pay, from voting.
May a state have a poll tax/
No, not in federal elections.
What happens when a vacancy occurs in the office of Vice President?
The President nominates a Vice President who must be confirmed by a majority vote of both houses of Congress
What if the President is unable to carry out the powers and duties of his office?
The President can be replaced by an acting President through action taken by himself or by others.
How may the President ask to be replaced by an acting President?
The President informs the president pro temper of the senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in writing, that he is unable to carry our the powers and duties of his office. The Vice President then becomes Acting President.
How long does the Vice President remain as Acting President when the president temporarily steps down?
Until the President informs the same officers of Congress, in writing, that he is able to return and fulfill his office.
What “others” may have the President replaced by an acting President?
The Vice President and a majority of the President’s Cabinet (or some other group Congress may decide upon by law) can inform the same officers of congress, in writing, that the President is unable to fulfill his office. The Vice President becomes Acting President of this is done.
How does the President resume his office when he is able?
The President informs the same officers of congress, in writing, that he is able to resume office. Which he does , unless, within four days, the Vice President and a majority of the President’s Cabinet (or some other group Congress may decide upon by law) inform the same officers of congress, in writing, that the President is unable to fulfill his office.
What happens when the President resumes office when he is able?
Congress decides whether or not the President is capable.
How large a vote does it take to decide that the President is incapable of fulfilling his office?
A two thirds vote of both houses
What if Congress is not in session when the president returns to office?
Congress must assemble within forty-eight hours
How long does Congress have to decide if the president is able to return back to office?
21 days or if not in session, 21 days after coming to session.
What are some reasons the President would be unable to carry out the powers and duties of his office?
A wound from an attempted assassination, prolonged physical illness, or mental disability.
What age requirement for voting does Amendment 26 set
18 years old
When was each of the last 17 amendments ratified?
Amendment 11: 1798
Amendment 12: 1804
Amendment 13: 1865
Amendment 14: 1868
Amendment 15: 1870
Amendment 16: 1913
Amendment 17: 1913
Amendment 18: 1919
Amendment 20: 1933
Amendment 21: 1933
Amendment 22: 1951
Amendment 23: 1961
Amendment 24: 1964
Amendment 25: 1967
Amendment 26: 1971
Amendment 27: 1992
Where may the Constitution be seen today?
The National Archives, Washington D.C.