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The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United Statesmarker. It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of the United States of America and the federal government of the United States. It provides the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government to the states, to citizens, and to all people within the United States.

The Constitution defines the three main branches of government: a legislature, bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a judicial branch headed by the Supreme Courtmarker. The Constitution specifies the powers and duties of each branch. The Constitution reserves all unenumerated powers for the respective states and the people, thereby establishing the federal system of government.

The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, and ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People". The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.

The United States Constitution is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use by any nation in the world today.

The Constitution has a central place in United States law and political culture. The handwritten original document penned by Jacob Shallus is on display at the National Archives and Records Administrationmarker in Washington, D.C.marker


Drafting and ratification requirements

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the United States of America.

In September 1786, commissioners from five states met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce. They invited state representatives to convene in Philadelphiamarker to discuss improvements to the federal government. After debate, the Congress of the Confederation endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation on February 21, 1787. Twelve states, Rhode Islandmarker being the only exception, accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787. The resolution calling the Convention specified that its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution. The Philadelphia Convention voted to keep the debates secret, so that the delegates could speak freely. They also decided to draft a new fundamental government design. Despite Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation stating that the union created under the Articles was "perpetual" and that any alteration must be "agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State," Article VII of the proposed constitution stipulated that only nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect (for the participating states). Current knowledge of the drafting and construction of the United States Constitution comes primarily from the diaries left by James Madison, who kept a complete record of the proceedings at the Constitutional Convention.

Work of the Philadelphia Convention

The Virginia Plan was the unofficial agenda for the Convention, and was drafted chiefly by James Madison, considered to be "The Father of the Constitution" for his major contributions. It was weighted toward the interests of the larger states, and proposed among other points:
alternative proposal, William Paterson's New Jersey Plan, gave states equal weights and was supported by the smaller states. Roger Sherman of Connecticutmarker brokered The Great Compromise whereby the House would represent the people, a Senate would represent the states, and a president would be elected by electors.

The contentious issue of slavery was too controversial to be resolved during the convention. As a result, the original Constitution contained four provisions tacitly allowing slavery to continue for the next 20 years. Section 9 of Article I allowed the continued "importation" of such persons, Section 2 of Article IV prohibited the provision of assistance to escaping persons and required their return if successful and Section 2 of Article I defined other persons as "three-fifths" of a person for calculations of each state's official population for representation and federal taxation. Article V prohibited any amendments or legislation changing the provision regarding slave importation until 1808, thereby giving the States then existing 20 years to resolve this issue. The failure to do so contributed to the Civil War.


Ratification of the Constitution
  Date State Votes
Yes No
1 December 7, 1787 Delawaremarker 30 0
2 December 11, 1787 Pennsylvaniamarker 46 23
3 December 18, 1787 New Jerseymarker 38 0
4 January 2, 1788 Georgiamarker 26 0
5 January 9, 1788 Connecticutmarker 128 40
6 February 6, 1788 Massachusettsmarker 187 168
7 April 26, 1788 Marylandmarker 63 11
8 May 23, 1788 South Carolinamarker 149 73
9 June 21, 1788 New Hampshiremarker 57 47
10 June 25, 1788 Virginiamarker 89 79
11 July 26, 1788 New Yorkmarker 30 27
12 November 21, 1789 North Carolinamarker 194 77
13 May 29, 1790 Rhode Islandmarker 34 32

Contrary to the process for "alteration" set out in Article 13 of the Articles, Congress submitted the proposal to the states and set the terms for representation.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was completed, followed by a speech given by Benjamin Franklin, who urged unanimity,although the Convention decided that only nine states were needed to ratify. The Convention submitted the Constitution to the Congress of the Confederation, where it received approval according to Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation.

Once the Congress of the Confederation received word of New Hampshire's ratification, it set a timetable for the start of operations under the new Constitution, and on March 4, 1789, the government began operations.

Historical influences

Several ideas in the Constitution were new, and a large number were drawn from the literature of Republicanism in the United States, the experiences of the 13 states, and the Britishmarker experience with mixed government. The most important influence from the European continent was from Montesquieu, who emphasized the need to have balanced forces pushing against each other to prevent tyranny. (This in itself reflects the influence of Polybius's 2nd century BC treatise on the checks and balances of the constitution of the Roman Republic.) British political philosopher John Locke was a major influence, and the due process clause of the Constitution was partly based on common law stretching back to Magna Carta (1215).

Influences on the Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights consists of the ten amendments added to the Constitution in 1791, as supporters of the constitution had promised critics during the debates of 1788. The English Bill of Rights was an inspiration for the American Bill of Rights. Both require jury trials, contain a right to keep and bear arms, prohibit excessive bail and forbid "cruel and unusual punishments." Many liberties protected by state constitutions and the Virginia Declaration of Rights were incorporated into the Bill of Rights.

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 Preamble states:

The Preamble does not grant any particular authority to the federal government and it does not prohibit any particular authority. It establishes the fact that the federal government has no authority outside of what follows the preamble, as amended. "We the people", is one of the most-quoted sections of the Constitution. It was thought by the Federalists during this time that there was no need for a bill of rights as they thought that the preamble explained the people's rights.

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 to represent the people, and the Senate to represent the States.

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.

In Article I Section I reads, "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." This gives Congress more than simply the responsibility to establish the rules governing its proceedings and for the punishment of its members; it places the power of the government primarily in Congress.

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 I Section IX provides a list of eight specific limits on congressional power and Article I Section X limits the rights of the states.

The United States Supreme Courtmarker has interpreted the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause in Article One to allow Congress to enact legislation that is neither expressly listed in the enumerated power nor expressly denied in the limitations on Congress. In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), the United States Supreme Court fell back on the strict construction of the necessary and proper clause to read that Congress had "[t]he foregoing powers and all other powers..."

Article Two: Executive power

Section analysis

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. An obsolete part of this clause provides that instead of being a natural born citizen, a person may be a citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. The reason for this clause was to extend eligibility to Citizens of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, regardless of their place of birth, who were born under the allegiance of a foreign sovereign before the founding of the Untied States. Without this clause, no one would have been eligible to be president until thirty five years after the founding of the United States.

  • 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. The original text ("the same shall devolve") left it unclear whether this succession was intended to be on an acting basis (merely taking on the powers of the office) or permanent (assuming the Presidency itself). After the death of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler set the precedent that the succession was permanent; this practice was followed when later presidents died in office. Today the 25th Amendment states that the Vice President becomes President upon the death or disability of the President.

  • Pay. The President receives "Compensation" for being the president, and this compensation may not be increased or decreased during the president's term in office. The president may not receive other compensation from either the United States or any of the individual states.

  • Oath of office. The final clause creates the presidential oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

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.
  • The president may make any of these appointments during a congressional recess. Such a "recess appointment" expires at the end of the next session of Congress.

Section 3 opens by describing the president's relations with Congress:
  • The president reports on the state of the union.
  • The president may convene either house, or both houses, of Congress.
  • When the two houses of Congress cannot agree on the time of adjournment, the president may adjourn them to some future date.

Section 3 adds:
  • The president receives ambassadors.
  • The president sees that the laws are faithfully executed.
  • The president commissions all the offices of the federal government.

Section 4 provides for removal of the president and other federal officers. The president is removed on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article Three: Judicial power

Article Three describes the court system (the judicial branch), including the Supreme Courtmarker. 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.

Article Four: States' powers and limits

Article Four describes the relationship between the states and the federal government and amongst the states. For instance, it requires states to give "full faith and credit" to the public acts, records, and court proceedings of the other states. Congress is permitted to regulate the manner in which proof of such acts, records, or proceedings may be admitted. The "privileges and immunities" clause prohibits state governments from discriminating against citizens of other states in favor of resident citizens (e.g., having tougher penalties for residents of Ohiomarker convicted of crimes within Michiganmarker.) It also establishes extradition between the states, as well as laying down a legal basis for freedom of movement and travel amongst the states. Today, this provision is sometimes taken for granted, especially by citizens who live near state borders; but in the days of the Articles of Confederation, crossing state lines was often a much more arduous and costly process. Article Four also provides for the creation and admission of new states. The Territorial Clause gives Congress the power to make rules for disposing of federal property and governing non-state territories of the United States. Finally, the fourth section of Article Four requires the United States to guarantee to each state a republican form of government, and to protect the states from invasion and violence.

Article Five: Amendments

An amendment may be ratified in three ways:
  • The new amendment may be approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, then sent to the states for approval.
  • Two-thirds of the state legislatures may apply to Congress for a constitutional convention to consider amendments, which are then sent to the states for approval.
  • Congress may require ratification by special convention. The convention method has been used only once, to approve the 21st Amendment (repealing prohibition, 1933).

Regardless of the method of proposing an amendment, final ratification requires approval by three-fourths of the states.

Today Article Five places only one limit on the amending power: no amendment may deprive a state of equal representation in the Senate without that state's consent. The original Article V included other limits on the amending power regarding slavery and taxation; however, these limits expired in 1808.

Article Six: Federal power

Article Six establishes the Constitution, and the laws and treaties of the United States made according to it, to be the supreme law of the land, and that "the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the laws or constitutions of any state notwithstanding." It also validates national debt created under the Articles of Confederation and requires that all federal and state legislators, officers, and judges take oaths or affirmations to support the Constitution. This means that the states' constitutions and laws should not conflict with the laws of the federal constitution and that in case of a conflict, state judges are legally bound to honor the federal laws and constitution over those of any state.

Article Six also states "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Article Seven: Ratification

Article Seven sets forth the requirements for ratification of the Constitution. The Constitution would not take effect until at least nine states had ratified the Constitution in state conventions specially convened for that purpose, and it would only apply to those states that ratified it. (See above Drafting and ratification requirements.)

Judicial review

The way the Constitution is understood is influenced by court decisions, especially those of the Supreme Courtmarker. These decisions are referred to as precedents. In the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court established the doctrine of judicial review. Judicial review is the power of the Court to examine federal legislation, executive agency rules and state laws, to decide their constitutionality, and to strike them down if found unconstitutional. Judicial review includes the power of the Court to explain the meaning of the Constitution as it applies to particular cases. Over the years, Court decisions on issues ranging from governmental regulation of radio and television to the rights of the accused in criminal cases have changed the way many constitutional clauses are interpreted, without amendment to the actual text of the Constitution.

Legislation passed to implement the Constitution, or to adapt those implementations to changing conditions, broadens and, in subtle ways, changes the meanings given to the words of the Constitution. Up to a point, the rules and regulations of the many federal executive agencies have a similar effect. If an action of Congress or the agencies is challenged, however, it is the court system that ultimately decides whether these actions are permissible under the Constitution.


The framers of the Constitution were aware that changes would be necessary if the Constitution was to endure as the nation grew. However, they were also conscious that such change should not be easy, lest it permit ill-conceived and hastily passed amendments. On the other hand, they also wanted to ensure that a rigid requirement of unanimity would not block action desired by the vast majority of the population. Their solution was a two-step process for proposing and ratifying new amendments.

Amending the Constitution is a two-part process: amendments must be proposed then ratified. Amendments can be proposed one of two ways. To date, all amendments, whether ratified or not, have been proposed by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress. Over 10,000 constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress since 1789; during the last several decades, between 100 and 200 have been offered in a typical congressional year. Most of these concepts never get out of Congressional committee, and far fewer get proposed by the Congress for ratification.

Alternatively, if two-thirds of the state legislatures demand one, Congress must call for a constitutional convention, which would have the power to propose amendments. As no such convention has been called, it is unclear how one would work in practice. In two instances—reapportionment in the 1960s and a balanced federal budget during the 1970s and 1980s—attempts to use this process have come extremely close to triggering a constitutional convention. The apportionment debate of the 1960s fell only one state short of the required number of states

Regardless of how the amendment is proposed, it must also be ratified by three-fourths of states. Congress determines whether the state legislatures or special state conventions ratify the amendment. The 21st Amendment is the only one that employed state conventions for ratification.

There are currently only a few proposals for amendments which have entered mainstream political debate. These include the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Balanced Budget Amendment, and the Flag Desecration Amendment. All three proposals are supported primarily by conservatives, but failed during periods of Republican control of Congress to achieve the supermajorities necessary for submission to the states. As such, none of these is likely to be proposed under the current Congress, which is controlled by the more liberal Democratic Party.

Unlike amendments to most constitutions, amendments to the United States Constitution are appended to the body of the text without altering or removing what already exists, although nothing prevents a future amendment from doing so.

Successful amendments

The Constitution has twenty-seven amendments. The first ten, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified simultaneously by 1791. The following seventeen were ratified separately over the next two centuries.

The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1 to 10)

It is commonly understood that originally the Bill of Rights was not intended to apply to the states; however, there is no such limit in the text itself, except where an amendment refers specifically to the federal government. One example is the First Amendment, which says only that "Congress shall make no law...", and under which some states in the early years of the nation officially established a religion. A rule of inapplicability to the states remained until 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was passed, which stated, in part, that:

The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to extend most, but not all, parts of the Bill of Rights to the states. Nevertheless, the balance of state and federal power has remained a battle in the Supreme Court.

The amendments that became the Bill of Rights were the last ten of the twelve amendments proposed in 1789. The second of the twelve proposed amendments, regarding the compensation of members of Congress, remained unratified until 1992, when the legislatures of enough states finally approved it; as a result, after pending for two centuries, it became the Twenty-seventh Amendment.

The first of the twelve, which is still technically pending before the state legislatures for ratification, pertains to the apportionment of the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. The most recent state whose lawmakers are known to have ratified this proposal is Kentuckymarker in 1792, during that commonwealth's first month of statehood.

Subsequent amendments (11 to 27)

Amendments to the Constitution after the Bill of Rights cover many subjects. The majority of the seventeen later amendments stem from continued efforts to expand individual civil or political liberties, while a few are concerned with modifying the basic governmental structure drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. Although the United States Constitution has been amended 27 times, only 26 of the amendments are currently in effect because the twenty-first amendment supersedes the eighteenth.

Unratified amendments

Of the thirty-three amendments that have been proposed by Congress, six have failed ratification by the required three-quarters of the state legislatures, and four of those six are still technically pending before state lawmakers (see Coleman v. Miller). Starting with the 18th Amendment, each proposed amendment has included a deadline for passage, except the 19th Amendment (women's voting) and the Child Labor Amendment, proposed in 1924 and still unratified. The following are the unratified proposals:
  • The Congressional Apportionment Amendment, proposed by the 1st Congress on September 25, 1789, defined a formula for how many members there would be in the United States House of Representatives after each decennial census. Ratified by eleven states, the last being Kentuckymarker in June 1792 during Kentucky's initial month of statehood, this amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. In principle it may yet be ratified, though as written it became moot when the population of the United States reached ten million.
  • The so-called missing thirteenth amendment, or "Titles of Nobility Amendment" (TONA), proposed by the 11th Congress on May 1, 1810, would have ended the citizenship of any American accepting "any Title of Nobility or Honour" from any foreign power. Some maintain that the amendment was actually ratified by the legislatures of enough states, and that a conspiracy has suppressed it, but this has been thoroughly debunked. Known to have been ratified by lawmakers in twelve states, the last in 1812, this amendment contains no expiration date for ratification. It may yet be ratified.
  • The Corwin amendment, proposed by the 36th Congress on March 2, 1861, would have forbidden any attempt to subsequently amend the Constitution to empower the federal government to "abolish or interfere" with the "domestic institutions" of the states (a delicate way of referring to slavery). It was ratified by only Ohiomarker and Marylandmarker lawmakers before the outbreak of the Civil War. Illinoismarker lawmakers—sitting as a state constitutional convention at the time—likewise approved it, but that action is of questionable validity. The proposed amendment contains no expiration date for ratification and may yet be ratified. However, adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments after the Civil War likely means that the amendment would be ineffective if adopted.
  • A child labor amendment proposed by the 68th Congress on June 2, 1924. It provides, "The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age." This amendment is highly unlikely to be ratified, since subsequent federal child labor laws have uniformly been upheld as a valid exercise of Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause.

Expired deadlines. This category is separate from the other four unratified constitutional amendments. These two were not ratified by their deadlines and they have expired.
  • The Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, which reads in pertinent part "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Proposed by the 92nd Congress on March 22, 1972, it was ratified by the legislatures of 35 states, and expired on either March 22, 1979 or on June 30, 1982, depending upon one's point of view of a controversial three-year extension of the ratification deadline, which was passed by the 95th Congress in 1978. Of the 35 states ratifying it, four later rescinded their ratifications prior to the extended ratification period which commenced March 23, 1979 and a fifth, while not going so far as to rescind its earlier ratification, adopted a resolution stipulating that its approval would not extend beyond March 22, 1979. There continues to be disagreement as to whether such reversals are valid; no court has ruled on the question, including the Supreme Court. But a precedent against the validity of rescission was first established during the ratification process of the 14th Amendment when Ohio and New Jerseymarker rescinded their earlier approvals, but yet were counted as ratifying states when the 14th Amendment was ultimately proclaimed part of the Constitution in 1868.
  • The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment was proposed by the 95th Congress on August 22, 1978. Had this amendment been ratified, it would have granted to Washington, D.C.marker two Senators and at least one member of the House of Representatives as though the District of Columbia were a state. Ratified by the legislatures of only 16 states (out of the required 38), the proposed amendment expired on August 22, 1985.

Criticism of the Constitution

Several academics have criticized the Constitution for specific shortcomings. University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato wants an amendment to organize primaries to prevent a "frontloaded calendar" long before the election to prevent a "race by states to the front of the primary pack" which subverts the national interest, in his view. Sabato details more objections in his book A More Perfect Constitution. Richard Labunski agrees with Sabato about the "incoherent organization of primaries and caucuses," and faults the Constitution for enabling presidents to continue unpopular wars, for requiring presidents to be "natural born citizens", for lifetime tenure for Supreme Court judges which "produces senior judges representing the views of past generations better than views of the current day." He writes "If the 26 least populated states voted as a bloc, they would control the U.S. Senate with a total of just under 17% of the country’s population."

University of Texasmarker law professor Sanford Levinson wonders whether it makes sense to give "Wyomingmarker the same number of votes as Californiamarker, which has roughly seventy times the population". He thinks this imbalance causes a "steady redistribution of resources from large states to small states." Levinson is critical of the electoral college since it allows the possibility of electing presidents who do not win the majority of votes. Levinson's book Our Undemocratic Constitution lists numerous flaws with the current Constitution, including the view that small states have too much clout in the Senate. The current Constitution does not give the people a quick way to remove incompetent or ill presidents, in his view. Further, Levinson does not like the electoral college. Three times in American history, presidents have been elected by the electoral college despite failing to win the popular vote: 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison) and 2000 (George W. Bush). Others have criticized the politically driven redistricting process popularly known as gerrymandering.

Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson believes the presidency has become too powerful. In her book, Bad for Democracy, she argues that all citizens seem to do, politically, is vote for president every four years, and not much else. Nelson criticizes excessive worship of the president or presidentialism and sees the office as essentially undemocratic.

Yale professor Robert A. Dahl sees a problem with an American tendency towards worship of the Constitution itself, and sees aspects of American governance which are "unusual and potentially undemocratic: the federal system, the bicameral legislature, judicial review, presidentialism, and the electoral college system." Levinson and Labunski and others have called for a Second Constitutional Convention, although professors like Dahl believe there is no real hope this might ever happen.


The Constitution has been translated into many world languages:

Professor James Chen has annotated the Spanish translation prepared by the U.S. State Department. His notes focus on the problems and nuances of this translation.

Nguyen Canh Binh has translated the Constitution into Vietnamese.

The Bill of Rights has been translated into Hawaiian.

There is a partial translation of the Bill of Rights into Esperanto.

The Federal Judicial Center has links to other materials about the United States government and judicial system. The site has materials in 16 languages besides English, such as Indonesian, Malay, Serb, and Vietnamese.

Original pages of the Constitution

Image:Constitution_Pg1of4_AC.jpg|Page 1Image:Constitution Pg2of4 AC.jpg|Page 2Image:Constitution Pg3of4 AC.jpg|Page 3Image:Constitution Pg4of4 AC.jpg|Page 4

See also


Related documents



Primary sources

  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part One: September 1787 to February 1788 ( The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-42-9
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part Two: January to August 1788 ( The Library of America, 1993) ISBN 0-940450-64-X
  • Garvey, John H. ed. Modern Constitutional Theory: A Reader 5th ed 2004; 820pp.
  • Mason, Alpheus Thomas and Donald Grier Stephenson, ed. American Constitutional Law: Introductory Essays and Selected Cases (14th Edition) (2004)
  • Tribe, Laurence H. American Constitutional Law (1999)

Reference books

  • Hall, Kermit, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Oxford U. Press, 1992. 1032 pp.
  • Levy, Leonard W. et al., ed. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. 5 vol; 1992; 3000 pp
  • US Law Dictionary

Secondary sources

  • Anastaplo, George, "Reflections on Constitutional Law" 2006 ISBN 0-8131-9156-4
  • Beard, Charles. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, 1913.
  • Richard R. Beeman, Stephen Botein, and Edward C., Carter, II, eds., Beyond Confederation: Origins of the Constitution and American National Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 1987);
  • Bernstein, Richard B. Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution (Harvard University Press, 1987);
  • Bernstein, Richard B. Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It? (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1993; Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995);
  • Gregory Casey. "The Supreme Court and Myth: An Empirical Investigation," Law & Society Review, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring, 1974), pp. 385–420
  • Countryman, Edward, ed. What Did the Constitution Mean to Early Americans.Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. xii + 169 pp. online review ISBN 0-312-18262-7.
  • Ely, James W., Jr. The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights. Oxford U. Press, 1992. 193 pp.
  • Finkelman, Paul. Slavery and the Founders: Race and Slavery in the Age of Jefferson (M.E. Sharpe, 1996);
  • Fritz, Christian G. American Sovereigns: The People and America's Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2008) [ISBN 978-0-521-88188-3
  • Hoffer, Peter Charles. The Law's Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America. U. of North Carolina Press, 1990. 301 pp.
  • Irons, Peter. A People's History of the Supreme Court. 2000. 542 pp.
  • Kersch, Ken I. Constructing Civil Liberties: Discontinuities in the Development of American Constitutional Law. Cambridge University Press, 2004. 392 pp.
  • Kyvig, David E. Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1776–1995 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996);
  • Levin, Daniel Lessard. Representing Popular Sovereignty: The Constitution in American Political Culture. State U. of New York Press., 1999. 283 pp.
  • Licht, Robert A., ed. The Framers and Fundamental Rights. American Enterprise Inst. Press, 1991. 194 pp.
  • Marshall, Thurgood, "The Constitution: A Living Document," Howard Law Journal 1987: 623-28.
  • Powell, H. Jefferson. A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics. University of Chicago Press, 2002. 251 pp.
  • Rakove, Jack N. Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. Knopf, 1996. 455 pp.
  • Sandoz, Ellis. A Government of Laws: Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding. Louisiana State U. Press, 1990. 259 pp.
  • Sheldon, Charles H. Essentials of Constitutional Law: The Supreme Court and the Fundamental Law (2001) 208 pp
  • VanBurkleo, Sandra F.; Hall, Kermit L.; and Kaczorowski, Robert J., eds. Constitutionalism and American Culture: Writing the New Constitutional History. University Press of Kansas, 2002. 464 pp.
  • White, G. Edward. The Constitution and the New Deal. Harvard University Press, 2000. 385 pp.
  • Wiecek, William M., "The Witch at the Christening: Slavery and the Constitution's Origins," Leonard W. Levy and Dennis J. Mahoney, eds., The Framing and Ratification of the Constitution (Macmillan, 1987), 178-84.

Further reading

External links

National Archives

Official U.S. government sources

Non-governmental web sites

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