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Politics & Power

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Show Your Support for People with Autism - Boycott Mattel

Reforming America: Understanding Our Past (Part V – Articles II & III of the United States Constitution)

Perhaps the greatest achievement of our Founding Fathers was the creation of the United States Constitution. Written in Seven Articles it established the rules for our society and bound a nation together. Over two hundred years after it was written it is still as relevant as it ever was. There are many who would argue that in post 9/11 America the preservation of the Constitution is more vital than ever. As we continue to examine the Constitution we come to Article II, the section that establishes the Executive Branch of government:

Section 1 - The President

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice-President.
This paragraph was superseded by the 12th Amendment in 1804.

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.


This section has been the source of much discussion since the election of President Barack Obama. The so-called “birthers” that claim President Obama is not an American citizen despite numerous public displays of his birth certificate point to the Constitution’s Article II and claim that President Obama is not a legitimate President. As we continue the following paragraph deals with succession:

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected. This paragraph was modified by the 20th and 25th Amendments in 1933 and 1967.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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."


One thing that is somewhat striking is the brevity of the Presidential oath of office. For a job that carries so much weight in American society, few words are required to be spoken before he who is elected to the post is sworn to execute its duties. As Article II continues Section 2 covers the President’s duties as Commander in Chief and head of the government bureaucracy:

Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.


Many in Washington would prefer that the last paragraph of Section 2 had been left off entirely. Recess appointments have become a President’s way of getting around Senate confirmation of controversial and unpopular appointees. In recent history President Bill Clinton made 139 recess appointments and President George W. Bush made 171. In March of 2010 President Obama made 15. In the last two sections of Article II the State of the Union and Presidential Disqualification are covered:

Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4 - Disqualification

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.


In modern history no President has been removed from office. While Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace over the Watergate scandal he was not removed from office. Likewise, while impeachment proceedings were brought against Bill Clinton he was acquitted in 1999 and therefore not removed from office.

Article III of the Constitution covers the Judicial Branch. At the time of the drafting of the Constitution this was seen as the weakest branch of government. In time it would become perhaps the strongest branch with the ability to affect both other branches with a ruling by a simple majority. In 2000 the Supreme Court decided the ultimate outcome of a presidential election. In a 5-4 ruling it was essentially determined that George W. Bush would become the next President of the United States. While it is a brief Article it would forever shape the future of American government and the rule of law:

Section 1 - Judicial powers

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2 - Trial by Jury, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trials

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
This paragraph would be later modified by the 11th Amendment in 1795.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.


Section 2 is especially important because it establishes the right of trial by jury. This right is a fundamental establishment of a just society. America’s judicial system, despite any flaws, is rooted in just principles designed to afford fairness to the accused. The last section covers treason against the United States:

Section 3 - Treason Note

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.


When you take the time to look at the foundations of our nation it becomes clear that there was a special vision and wisdom in the formation of our government. Our Founding Fathers understood that government could not be all-powerful or powerless if our nation was to endure. The balancing of powers between the branches of government was essential to guaranteeing that no one group or person became too powerful. They understood as many do today that power in the hands of too few people was detrimental to our nation and gave the people the means to keep the powerful in check.

Article III in some ways was the great equalizer. By establishing a Supreme Court that could rule on the acceptability of any law under our Constitution they opened the door to challenging unjust laws. Article II likewise gave the people a powerful representative that was elected by a majority of the states and therefore concerned with more than just the needs of any one state. Balance between the needs of individuals, the states and the nation was achieved through the establishment of three strong and independent arms of leadership for our nation.

As we work to re-establish some of the values our nation was founded upon we have to look to our history and understand the foundations of our system. While examining the Constitution may seem like a dull endeavor it is nevertheless an important one. We have to understand the rights we have to demand change if we are to have any hope of bringing change. We are guaranteed certain rights and freedoms under the Constitution. We have to be ever vigilant against those who would diminish them to promote their agendas. The Constitution also puts limits on the power of our leaders. We as citizens need to make sure those limits are not exceeded and challenge our leaders when they attempt to exceed their authority through the courts that were established for the purpose of keeping the Legislative and Executive Branches in check. If we don’t understand our rights we cannot expect to have them respected.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom | Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net





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