Talk:Article One of the United States Constitution

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Someone please track down the origin of that Senate image! Thank you. +sj+

Much searching reveals that it is from the AP (1998).

The original author neglected to include two legally declared wars when discussing Constitutional War Powers - the Mexican-American War and the Barbary Coast War. There is some argument for including a seventh conflict, the so-called "Border War" with Pancho Villa.

Vesting clauses in each of the articles[edit]

A recent change has the article state: "Similar (but, critically, not identical) "vesting clauses" are found in the other two Articles.". As this ought to be more precise, and likely not parenthetical, what is the substantial nature of these not being identical and its relevance to the article? - Centrx 01:03, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Letters of marque[edit]

This article currently makes the statement:

Congress may grant letters of marque and reprisal; such letters are now obsolete.

According to Letter of marque, the United States is not a signatory to the 1856 Declaration of Paris, which banned the "issuance of letters of marque and reprisal to private parties". This suggests that such letters are still issuable by Congress, however diplomatically untenable they may be. Is there a more recent treaty, binding on the U.S., or a U.S. law that makes these letters obsolete? — Jeff Q (talk) 14:46, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The article letter of marque notes, "The United States was not a signatory and is not bound by that Declaration, but did issue statements during the 1861-65 American Civil War, and during the 1898 Spanish-American War, that it would abide by the principles of the Declaration of Paris..." Letters of marque are obsolete in the U.S. simply because they have not been issued by Congress in a long time. -- Emsworth 15:16, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Statements issued that cover a wartime policy are hardly binding on future governments outside that war period. Even treaties signed by nations may be unilaterally abrogated (as has been recently demonstrated by many nations, including the U.S.). Nations often dredge up old practices when they're in a bind, justifying the action by arguing that they never agreed to stop. I don't think the word "obsolete" can be used unless the U.S. has made a formal, unqualified commitment not to issue such letters. "Archaic" may be more accurate, though that sounds a bit odd when applied to a political practice. Perhaps "no longer practiced" is the most accurate description. — Jeff Q (talk) 02:11, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Residency Requirement[edit]

Waaaiiit. What are the examples of Congresscritters or Senators being elected but not living in the district they're running for?

I provided one example from early on. MrArticleOne (talk) 00:30, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

1808 issue[edit]

"No amendment made prior to 1808 could affect the first and fourth clauses of Section Nine."

This needs to be better explained. Why couldn't an amendment be made? What prevented it? Why was this done? How? Kingturtle 21:26, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The simple answer to the first two questions is in Section 9 itself:
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight…
The "why" is only hinted at in History of the United States Constitution, in which we observe that there were heated regional arguments. An obvious one was whether the U.S. should use the guideline of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal" to bolster the case to end slavery. As the main (unstated) goal of the Constitutional Convention was to replace the ineffectual Articles of Confederation with a strong document to shore up the chaotic new nation, this was apparently the best compromise they could reach between the pro- and anti-slavery factions. I should think that this topic would deserve an article all by itself. — Jeff Q (talk) 03:01, 2 May 2005 (UTC)
P.S. Actually, my citation of the 1st clause only covers itself; the broader coverage of both 1st and 4th clauses can be found in Article V:
… no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article…
My apologies for the oversight. — Jeff Q (talk) 03:10, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

One reference?[edit]

Surely not! - Ta bu shi da yu 23:44, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

The items presently forming the external links section were actually used as references. -- Emsworth 00:01, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

I went back to the Wikipedia:Guide to layout to point out the standard appendices, and found that there is now a note that the "References" and "External topics" separation does not have a consensus. I have therefore restructured the sections, putting both under a single "References" section, with one subsection for "Books" and another for "External links". — DLJessup 02:18, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Delegation of Powers[edit]

JW, I don't know what you mean by "clarify, provide example." What exactly do you have a problem with? You know that I don't edit on a whim. I've spent hours researching the authoritative sources on this, but nothing speaks louder or more clearly than the Constitution itself. It is incorrect to say that those who take issue with delegation of legislative power do so because some "principle of separation of powers implies" something. No implication is used or needed. The wording of the Constitution could not be more clear. The Constitution specifically enumerates that no federal power can be derived from any source other than the Constitution. It also enumerates that all legislative powers granted by the Constitution shall be vested in a Congress. No authoritative source disputes this. Wording the article to make it seem that the Constitution possibly grants Congress the power to delegate legislative responsibilities is wholly your opinion. The Supreme Court doesn't argue that the Constitution grants delegation power and neither does any other source. The Supreme Court only argues the issue on the need for Congress to have that power. The court's decision should be noted, but it doesn't change the wording or the meaning of the Constitution. The Constitution stands by itself. It means exactly what it says it means. An article on the Constitution must be about the Constitution. Anything you want to add about court decisions is secondary. I'm sorry if I'm mentioning truisms, but I don't know what else to say. What is wrong with talking about the precise wording of the Constitution in an article about the Constitution? Regardless of what Supreme Court said later, Article One still reads, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress," and the Tenth Amendment still reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The words didn't change. --Zephram Stark 05:10, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

  • This is not the forum for you to "prove" that much of what Congress currently does is against the founder's original intent. We have the text, the court's interpretation , and mention that some people don't agree with it. You should also check out the notion of "implied powers", which are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, but are logical extensions of one or more enumerated power. --JW1805 16:03, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
    • "We have the text, the court's interpretation , and mention that some people don't agree with it." One of those three things is the focus of this article. The other two are merely side notes. If you want to add court decisions, opinions, and other interpretations, that comes secondary to the text of the Constitution. --Zephram Stark 20:13, 15 October 2005 (UTC)


Wikisource includes the full text of Article One - do we need to include it here? As I understand it, an encyclopedia does not usually contain such extensive quotations from primary sources (see WP:NOT). The version that was approved as a "featured article" did not include the quotations.

I appreciate that this article is about the text of Article One and its meaning, but it is already freely available at Wikisource. -- ALoan (Talk) 23:07, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

I tend to agree that merely restating it is not particularly helpful. On the other hand, I think the bits that I have worked on, calling out a particular clause and then discussing what I feel are the relevant interpretations/implications of that language, offer substantial value-added. So, I would agree with your general sentiment, but as I progress through the article, it's my intention to keep the quoted text of the Constitution and make the commentary such that it is relevant to the text more specifically, which would justify retaining the specific quoted portions. MrArticleOne (talk) 00:29, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Miscellaneous Edits[edit]

1) Alliance is linked to the disambiguation page. I think in this context that makes sense. Otherwise, it should link to the Wiktionary entry. Anjin 20:49, 6 July 2006 (UTC) 2) Others?


it says "for instance, the executive may not enact laws"

but then at enact we have an article implying the President of the United States enacts law. reword? Morwen - Talk 14:41, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

The Cabinet and Section 6 (Compensation and privileges)[edit]

Do cabinet members or the President have any privileges similar to, for example, parliamentary privilege? It would be interesting if they could speak to openly (perhaps to Congress) about concerns they have. Aaron McDaid (talk - contribs) 00:15, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Problems with Impeachment section[edit]

Hello all. I have a few problems with the entry's handling of the Senate power to try all impeachments, discussed is Art. I, Sec 3. Allow me to quote from the entry itself:

Section 3, Clause 7: Impeachment judgments
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
If an executive officer is convicted on impeachment, he or she is immediately removed from office, but the Senate may choose not to remove a judicial officer. The Senate decided, when considering the impeachment of Senator William Blount, that members of Congress may not be tried on impeachment. The Senate also may disqualify the defendant from holding any public office in the future. No other punishments may be inflicted, but the impeached party remains liable to trial and punishment in the courts.

The Senate may choose not to remove a judicial officer? That statement is unsourced and at odds with the facts. Judicial officers serve "during good behavior" and being convicted in an impeachment trial is the only method of demonstrating bad behavior. Upon conviction, all officials -- judicial and executive -- are removed from any office they may currently hold. Such was the case with Judge Nixon in 1989 when his judgement of removal was ordered by the Chair immediately following conviction. I will soon edit this entry to reflect that fact. I would link to the Senate record here, but the link from Thomas is temporary. But the impeachment vote in the Senate was on 3 November 1989 and you can check it out yourself at the Congressional Record - 101st Congress. Additionally, the opinion of the Supreme Court in Nixon v. United States has a summary of the proceedings.

The question on the impeachment of Members of Congress is a long-running disagreement I am having with several other wikipedia entries. First, I argue that there is nothing in the text of the Constitution which states that Members are not "civil Officers of the United States." Thus, no one is perfectly clear on the answer to this question. Two, I submit that only the opinions of the House of Representatives, the body with the "sole Power" to impeach are relevant in a question about who is subject to impeachment. The Senate is not capable of imposing upon the House a requirement or standard - it is only the House's opinion and decision on impeachment that determine who is impeached. Third, I contest that the Senate "decided that Members of Congress may not be tried on impeachment." That's not actually what the Senate records indicate. The Senate, after initially hearing the impeachment, dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction. But it did not explain its decision. Perhaps there was no jurisdiction because the Memebr had already been expelled. Perhaps there was no jurisdiction for another reason. There is no evidence that the impeachment was dismissed because he was a Member of Congress. I am eager to hear the opinions of others before I edit the article on this point.

JasonCNJ 05:47, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

It does not strike me as a plausible interpretation of "civil Officer of the United States" that it should apply to members of Congress. This is confirmed by the Constitution's textual committment of disciplining members to a non-impeachment process (expulsion on 2/3rds vote). It would be curious, to say the least, that the Constitution would set up a procedure expressly formed for the purpose of ejecting members from the chamber, but would somewhat obliquely and sub silentio also subject members to removal via another process that is more clearly designed for proceedings against extra-congressional persons. Additionally, it would allow for a mere majority of the members of the House to expel a member, so long as a Senate super-majority that was hostile to that member existed. This would circumvent the requirement that members could only be expelled on a 2/3rds vote of the chamber. Additionally, all of this is such a fine and subtle point that I don't think it is necessary for an article discussing the "meat and potatoes" of the constitutional text. MrArticleOne 20:04, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Is there a separate article on the Appropriations Clause?[edit]

I searched for an article on the Appropriations Clause as it is cited in a recent Supreme Court case article I was editing. I couldn't find anything. Is there an article under a different name perhaps, or are we lacking on this one?

The quote says "The Appropriations Clause, Article I, § 9, Cl. 7, further provides that 'no Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.'"

Looking up the phrase in a search engine there appears to be a lot of cases calling this clause by that name.--Wowaconia 17:38, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Commerce Clause[edit]

I've edited out the following from the Commerce Clause section:

In the 1990s, however, the Court acted to restrain Congress's unconstitutional exercise of their now stretched, over-extensive power to regulate commerce. Congress passed acts that punished crimes on the absurd grounds that they discouraged individuals from engaging in interstate commerce; including various other acts pertaining to different areas of life where Congress abused their power of regulation over interstate commerce (away from the original intent of the founders) as an excuse to justify their expansion of federal power over the liberties, rights, and powers of the states and individual citizens of the United States.

because it displays major bias and POV.Evilteuf 18:38, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

How did congress go about changing "The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000..."[edit]

Article I Section 2 states in the third paragraph, "The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000..."

A book I have on the constitution simply states that congress passed a law in 1929 limiting the number of members to 435.

How did congress pass this law without first ratifying an amendment?--I Use Dial 04:41, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Currently, the number of representatives does not exceed one for every 30,000.Ferrylodge 13:26, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Currently there are 435 members in the House, so about one representative for every 693,000 people in the U.S.--I Use Dial 07:52, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
So, for every 30,000 people in the U.S. there's about .04 representatives.Ferrylodge 14:18, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
The key is the "shall not exceed" as opposed to "shall be". It only limits on the maximum, not the minimum. The minimum can be 1 per state. So if the number of people in the USA is 300 million, the Maximum is 10,000 while the minimum 50. The 435 is a number congress choose on their own. As long as its between 1 or more per each state and less or equal to 1 per each 30,000 is within the bounds of the constitution.Rxantos (talk) 06:10, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Untaxed Native Americans[edit]

Any info on those? - Lev 20:48, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

I've added an appropriate citation. MrArticleOne (talk) 00:26, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Recent Reverted Edits[edit]

Several edits were recently reverted. I fail to see what aspect of these was incorrect or presented an identifiable POV. They strike me as quite unremarkable. I'll list the points that I see as having been raised and rejected:

1. Comment that the vesting clause of Article I contains the language "herein granted," which is understood to mean that Congress is limited to those powers specifically enumerated. It is not my understanding this is considered a controversial position and has Supreme Court support. See, e.g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 592 (1995) ("[Certain] comments of Hamilton and others about federal power reflected the well-known truth that the new Government would have only the limited and enumerated powers found in the Constitution. . . . Even before the passage of the Tenth Amendment, it was apparent that Congress would possess only those powers 'herein granted' by the rest of the Constitution.").

2. Comment that the vesting clauses of Articles II and III do not contain the language "herein granted," and the "expressio unius" arguments that are typically derived from that. Although it is certainly a political hot potato as to the precise extent of the difference (especially with respect to the Executive), it is my understanding that this is the conventional interpretation of the text. For example, although the Supreme Court has rejected particular efforts by the Executive to justify its behavior via this interpretive mechanism (e.g., Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952)), it is not seriously disputed that there are certain aspects of "the executive Power" that the President properly exercises but are not specifically enumerated. See Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 117-18, 128 (1926) ("[T]he natural meaning of the term ‘executive power’ granted the President included the appointment and removal of executive subordinates. If such appointments and removals were not an exercise of the executive power, what were they? They certainly were not the exercise of legislative or judicial power in government as usually understood. . . . The difference between the grant of legislative power under article 1 to Congress which is limited to powers therein enumerated, and the more general grant of the executive power to the President under article 2 is significant. The fact that the executive power is given in general terms strengthened by specific terms where emphasis is appropriate, and limited by direct expressions where limitation is needed, and that no express limit is placed on the power of removal by the executive is a convincing indication that none was intended."). Again, I mean not to take sides in the debate about the President's discretion to do things like torture people or commit our armed forces into battle without approval from Congress; only to say that there is more to the "executive Power" than is specifically prescribed. There's something there; we disagree on how much.

3. Comment that the Equal Protection Clause (and the Supreme Court's jurisprudence under it) places additional limitations on the States' abilities to prescribe voter qualifications. For example, in Harper v. Va. Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966), the Supreme Court more or less made U.S. CONST. amend. XXIV superfluous, by holding that poll taxes were unconstitutional in any election, not just federal elections, as a violation of U.S. CONST. amend. XIV. Is there any doubt that this logic would preclude a State from enacting a voter qualification based on (for example) educational level (only people with a college degree may vote?) or economic class (only people making more than $35,000/yr may vote, while making no requirement that they pay any sort of tax?). It seems obvious to me that the Equal Protection Clause adds additional limitations on the States' ability to define voter qualifications. You could argue that it is POV to say it has less meaning than meets the eye, but at the very least, it undoubtedly has much less meaning than it did when written, since the States had almost unfettered ability to discriminate between individuals to decide who could vote and who could not.

4. Comment that the States are represented in the House as units. It is possible that this could be worded somewhat differently, but it (again) strikes me as generally uncontroversial. We routinely speak of each State having a "delegation" to the House; this would not be the case if Representatives were districted nationally, in order to achieve maximum population equity between districts (e.g., Wyoming sharing a representative with parts of Colorado). Cf. Adams v. Clinton, 90 F. Supp. 2d 35 (D.D.C.), aff'd mem., 531 U.S. 941 (2000) (affirming the notion that States receive representation in the House due to their status as States by denying representation in the House to the District of Columbia on account of it not being a State).

How is it that the language that was reverted was problematic? The above seems to support what was said, at least to me. 03:46, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Citation Required?[edit]

Often, when a married Senator dies in office, the spouse of the deceased Senator is appointed to fill out the deceased Senator's term. This usually places that spouse first in line in any primary election or caucus to fill that seat at the next Senate elections.

This seems odd to me, for I have never heard it before. It may be vandalism. Citation is definitely required. NuclearWarfare 01:18, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Something similar happened a few years ago in Missouri; Mel Carnahan died while campaigning for the Senate seat, but so soon before the election that nothing could be done about it. He won the election posthumously, and his wife was appointed to fill the vacancy. I don't know that it has happened so often that we could say this happens "often," however. It is not any kind of typical convention that I am aware of. There are lots of unwritten rules that it's OK for us to talk about here (e.g., that the Speaker of the House is always a member, despite there being no such requirement; the President pro tempore of the Senate is always the senior member of the majority party, despite there being no such requirement; etc.) but this is not one of them. MrArticleOne 20:08, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Declaration of War[edit]

Under the War Powers Clause, only Congress may declare war, but in several cases it has, without declaring war, granted the President the authority to engage in military conflicts. Six wars have been declared in American history: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, and The War on Iraq. Some historians argue that the legal doctrines and legislation passed during the operations against Pancho Villa constitute a sixth declaration of war.

Declaration of war arises from a pre-modern notion of duties between states. It required one state, usually in the person of the king or ruler, to declare that a state of war existed between it and other states. Though in the 21st century, states war with each other, it's rare that they declare war. For example, when Argentina occupied the Falkland Islands in 1982, neither the UK nor Argentina declared that a state of war existed. On the other hand, Somalia under the Islamic Court Union did declare war against Ethiopia in 2006, so maybe it will come back in vogue.

If you look at the declarations of war between the US and Germany, Italy and Japan, it's pretty clear what that entailed. Under the Constitution, only Congress could say:

That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

In the case of Iraq, no such declaration of war exists. There is the "AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002", but that does not declare that a state of war exists between the United States and Iraq, and it allows for the use of force in October 2002 for an invasion that began in March 2003.

In the same vein, I'm not sure that the United States could have gone to war with Tripoli, Algiers and Tunis during the Barbary wars, since they seemed to have be a part of the Ottoman Empire, but I'm not that well-versed on the law of the Ottoman Empire. --Chesterg (talk) 21:21, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

It is well-known and uncontroversial that the last declared war in our history was World War II. The only people who don't know this, it seems to me, are either the uninformed/confused, or apologists for the current administration trying to slip in "weasel words" subtly justifying the current involvement in Iraq. Both are wrong. MrArticleOne (talk) 00:25, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Deleting two sections[edit]

MrArticleOne went and deleted the introductory paragraphs to sections two and three. I felt that something this major should first be brought up here and so I undid those deletions. So, anyone in favor of deleting those paragraphs? NuclearWarfare (talk) 23:26, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Obviously, I am. They don't actually have much of anything to do with the article, which is Article One of the Constitution. At best, I feel like the text ought to say something like "Section 2 establishes the U.S. House of Representatives." Since the actual clause-by-clause analysis makes this apparent immediately and continuously, it's unnecessary to do that. The rest of it is either a commentary on the respective powers of the houses, which is written from a perspective of the institution, not the organic law, or else it's just trivial history (like the business about making obeisance to the Senate). MrArticleOne (talk) 00:22, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Use of the word "right"[edit]

An assertion is made in this article that section eight, clause eight, of Article One (the Copyright Clause) contains the only instance of the word "right" in the entire Constitution document. Though there may be other examples, one particular example of the invalidity of this assertion can be found in the text of the Second Amendment, which states that "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". The assertion should therefore be removed; or, if the author intended the assertion to apply only to the original (pre-amendments) body of the Constitution, then the assertion should be re-worded accordingly (though more research into the validity of even that revised assertion would be prudent). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Spear43147 (talkcontribs) 19:50, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

You're right. I have corrected the phrase in the article. (I also moved your comment to a more appropriate place at the end of the talk page.) JasonCNJ (talk) 21:26, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

What's with the capitalization?[edit]

I'm referring to stuff like "No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports" that's not capitalized in the original. Why are all these words capitalized? --NE2 08:45, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

The National Archives posted page 2 of the constitution has them capitalized. Why is not clear but it seems the penned document is a better reference than the type faced document you have listed. See: High-Resolution Constitution Page 2 Image jpg (1.50 MB) I'm curious as to haw you interpret this. HowardE (talk) 20:30, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

In the 18th century, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation were only reaching the end-game of stabilizing. Compare, for example, Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (written in 1651) and the Constitution (written in 1787). Then compare the Constitution with, say, Tarzan and the Golden Lion (written in 1923). You can see how amazingly fast these aspects of the written language were changing between Leviathan and the Constitution, and how comparatively little they changed in the same amount of time after the Constitution. Certainly, there were small shifts: Noah Webster, abrogating the use of the long s ("Congreſs"), and the instant discussion about capitalization. But it's clear to see that, in Hobbes' day, it was largely a free-for-all, and by the time of the Constitution, things had settled dramatically. In fact, if you just compare the Constitution of 1787 with the Bill of Rights in 1791, you'll see capitalization following conventions much more along the lines of what modern readers are familiar with. MrArticleOne (talk) 03:15, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
It occurred to me that, if you don't have a copy of Hobbes, most versions on the Internet use modernized spelling etc. Here's a sample from his most famous passage:

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

MrArticleOne (talk) 04:25, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Don't forget two important factors (often overlooked). It wasn't until the 19hC (IIRC) free education became common, which meant standard spelling & capitalization, & actually being "forced" into a standard, as well as the first dictionaries. So the sometimes-raised suggestion Shakespeare was a fake because he spelled his name differently amounts to nonsense. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 04:37, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

We're adjourned[edit]

Does the President have the authority to adjourn Congress on his own? If so, under what conditions? TREKphiler hit me ♠ 22:02, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Individual articles for each Article of US Constitution[edit]

Why is the need for that? (Is there an urgency?, considering each article reflects the original text?) Does it promote American "selfishness"? I mean, how about other countries' constitution? Why this needs to be in separate articles?--JL 09Talk to me! 09:17, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

It appears all the individual articles were one article, but it got too big and was split to make reading easier. It's long because it's detailed. Articles on constitutions of other countries could be similarly detailed, IF someone were willing to write them. RJFJR (talk) 17:22, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Good Article Nom[edit]

I've been bold and nominated this article at WP:GAN. RJFJR (talk) 17:49, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Article One of the United States Constitution/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Reywas92Talk 19:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

You've done a great job so far improving the article! Here are some comments on improvement.

  • It's generally not called the Congress
  • Well, in theory Wikipedia doesn't dictate anything, but we have the WP:MOS to provide guidance and to have consistency. You have no idea what you're talking about. You wouldn't say "Congress power," you pronounce it "Congresses power". Since the apostrophe only indicates possession but does not have any pronunciation "Congress' power" sounds completely wrong. You need that extra s to get the correct pronunciation: "Congress's power."
  • Yes
  • Yes

More to come. Reywas92Talk 19:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Note: I've tagged the article at WP:GAN as being reviewed by you, and removed it from the backlog at the top of the page. Upon completion, you can update it hereDMCer 19:54, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

User:Hamiltonstone or any other willing user has my persmission to take over this review and close it when ready. Reywas92Talk 22:43, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

New reviewer[edit]

I am going to take over the review here, thanks to Reywas for getting things started. This article is by far the best of the seven on the articles of the US Constitution. It covers all clauses and appears comprehensive in that sense. However the article has some serious issues that would need to be addressed:

  • Significant progress has been made, in comparison to the other articles on Articles, with referencing, but it has a long long way to go. There are entire paragraphs - and in some cases whole subsections (eg. on Section 7 clause 2; and Section 9) where there are no references at all.
  • Referencing court cases. There is a tendency in law articles on WP to reference court cases as citations to support particular anaylses in the article. This is a problem across WP articles in this area. An explanation of the issue is below.
  • The lead is a poor summary of the article.
  • There is no introduction to the Article as a whole, no history and no context. This is necessary for it to read like an encyclopedia article rather than a law textbook article.
  • There is no scholarly analysis of the effect of the Article as a whole.

These are the main issues. If more specific points are worth raising, i may make a separate list of them. Regards, hamiltonstone (talk) 23:23, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Citing case law in articles about laws[edit]

There is a problem across a large number of WP pages that relate to legal topics, in particular which involve case law.

  • At the heart of the problem is this: judgments of cases are themselves primary sources. As such, they should not in general be relied upon as sources in WP entries. To quote from the verifiability policy:

    Primary sources are sources very close to an event. For example, an account of a traffic accident written by a witness is a primary source of information about the accident. Other examples include archeological artifacts; photographs; historical documents such as diaries, census results, video or transcripts of surveillance, public hearings, trials, or interviews;...(emphasis added)

  • WP does not say these sources cannot be used at all. The policy recommends:

    Primary sources that have been reliably published (for example, by a university press or mainstream newspaper) may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. Without a secondary source, a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge.

  • The appropriate way in which to use case law would be:
(a) to cite cases, including Wikilinks if available, in order to inform the reader of the cases, dates etc at which certain legal events took place;
(b) to cite or quote judgments to the extent that the article is describing what the judges said; BUT
(c) to cite other sources, that are not the judgments themselves, in describing the effects those judgments have.

Here is an example that used to be in Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (the article has changed somewhat since then). The article stated:

...the Supreme Court, since Baker v. Carr (1962) and Reynolds v. Sims (1964), has also interpreted the Equal Protection Clause as requiring the states to apportion their congressional districts and state legislative seats on a "one-person, one-vote" basis.

This sentence reports how two U.S. Supreme Court decisions have interpreted a clause of a constitutional amendment. This statement cannot rely on the citations of the cases themselves, which are primary sources. It is not reasonable to suggest that on the strength of two case citations, "a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge" could readily verify the claim made in the WP article regarding what was the effect of those judgments. The understanding of the effect of those two judgments must be based on a secondary source. As I indicated at the start of this comment, this is a problem which plagues many articles in the field of law. I encourage all the law students, law professionals, journalists and others who contribute to these articles to just pull out your case law handbooks and textbooks - it doesn't have to be anything as fancy as the Harvard Law Review - and provide secondary sources to ensure verifiability of these articles. hamiltonstone (talk) 23:19, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

I tend to disagree, or at least not entirely agree. The context in which "public hearings, trials" is listed above is not really relevant to appellate interpretation of a governing piece of law (such as a Constitution). Appellate consideration of a law or constitution seems like it can in many or even most cases be a secondary source. Many appellate cases outline the historical development of a given area of legal doctrine, which is secondary to both the governing law itself as well as the actual appellate case at bar. Moreover, a good footnote, which provides a quotation from the appellate case that you're talking about, is easily verified by even a layman: they can read a quotation from the case to back up the paraphrased/summarized version in the main article text that the reference is supporting. Certainly, it is not simply enough to say "The 14th Amendment has been interpreted to require an equipopulation rule in congressional districts and legislative seats" and simply give a citation to those 2 cases. But it is a whole other ball of wax if you pull a quotation from those cases to include in your footnote that says precisely that. My sense is that, in an article about the U.S. Constitution, there is only 1 primary source: the Constitution itself. All other sources are by definition "secondary," in that they aren't the Constitution itself, and to the extent that they can be made to speak for themselves unambiguously, I do not see why that is an inadequate way of sourcing a statement. MrArticleOne (talk) 01:56, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
Those are some useful points, raising interesting questions. For example, to the extent that judgements are not peer reviewed, and may not be published by anyone other than the court itself, should the judgements be regarded as reliable sources at WP, for any purpose other than reporting what the judgement says? I have some sympathy with the idea that they are secondary sources when they "outline the historical development of a given area of legal doctrine", but i cannot accept they are secondary sources when making judgement themselves. On a separate point, you refer to "a good footnote, which provides a quotation from the appellate case that you're talking about..." This is another reason to reject judgements as secondary sources at WP. All WP's legal articles would become completely unwieldy if the footnotes contained the relevant quotes. The long footnotes of this article are already a problem. It is another reason to rely on scholarly reporting of cases rather than the cases themselves, i think. hamiltonstone (talk) 02:26, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
I think the key distinction is that the law is a sort of artificial reality. While legal philosophers debate this back and forth, from a practical standpoint (certainly from the standpoint of an encyclopedia) the Constitution means whatever the courts say it means. I call it an artificial reality because it is the curious case of secondary sources which are definitive. Appellate cases do not make any judgments, which can only be made by the trial court. An appellate court, instead, provides a definitive secondary analysis of the primary source. The secondary sources that you discuss, it seems to me, are necessary in any discussion of open questions in the law, or disputed points, but not to simply source a sentence that paraphrases a clear and uncontroversial statement in a court case. As for the footnotes being unwieldy, I guess that does not concern me; they don't need to be "wieldy," because they're just references, and so long as they support well-written and easy-to-read prose, I guess unwieldy but complete footnotes don't bother me. MrArticleOne (talk) 03:17, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Just to jump in here, this is an issue I've been contemplating for some time. I fully agree with the reviewer's perspective. In some respects, a judgment can be a secondary source (eg to set out the uncontested facts of a particular case). But to state Legal Proposition X, and cite Case Y as the source (even if the footnote explains the link between Y and X), is in my view impermissible original research. Even if the position taken by the court in Case Y is clear, how would we know it hasn't been overturned by Case Z? Only a scholar can tell us. The judgments that interpret the Constitution are just as much part of the law as the Constitution itself and are in that respect primary sources. The only sources that can validly be cited to link legal propositions with particular cases are scholarly publications that analyse the Constitution and the cases that interpret it. --Mkativerata (talk) 05:24, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Let's say I provided a citation to some old, out-of-date textbook (about any topic). No source ever verifies its own ongoing credibility; it's not like there's a sticker on the cover of that book that says "Now out of date!" You'd know when you found some other, later source, which disputed it and demonstrated the earlier source's lack of credibility. It's not like it'd happen inevitably; some degree of editorial judgment would need to be exercised ("I see this textbook we're citing to predates the development of germ theory. This later textbook refutes it."). That is no different than one case overruling an earlier case. Again, to the extent that the precise parameters (the "edges," so to speak) of the overruling, its extent and practical significance, are open questions or disputed issues, you'd want scholarly analysis, especially to show the differing perspectives on the open question. But on closed questions, I guess I just don't see the need. The only real "original research" I can see someone doing in a legal setting is some sort of study about the way courts handle cases, or some such thing, because ultimately all most "legal research" is (however "original") is only a derivative effort at interpreting/explaining something that's already been done. To the extent you provide "original" insights or theories, I can see that as being "original research," but it just seems absurd to me to say it's "original research" to say that courts have the power of judicial review and cite to Marbury with an appropriate quotation. MrArticleOne (talk) 17:47, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

I am failing this at GA for now. Notwithstanding the debate about references, there is a range of issues with the article and no substantive action on them at present. Regards, hamiltonstone (talk) 03:56, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Unnecessary and hindering recapitulation[edit]

As is, each section starts with a quote from the constitution (usually written in perfectly lucid and understandable language), which is then immediately followed by an entirely unnecessary recapitulation in the own words of the articles author(s). Only after this recapitulation does the actual analysis begin.

This has a very negative effect on the readibility of the article (WP, not constitutional), because the flow of reading is severely disturbed: The reader naturally reads the quote first, forms an understanding of its meaning, proceeds to read the analysis, but is brought off track by the recapitulation. In particular, because no clear delimitation between recapitulation and analysis is made, time and intellectual effort is wasted on this task in a manner entirely disproportionate.

While I realize that many people who read this article will be too slow readers and information processors to be disturbed by such severe speed-bumps, it does form a major annoyance for those used to handle data at a higher speed.

I strongly suggest that either the recapitulations be removed or sufficiently clearly deliminated as be skippable at one glance.

This problem likely applies to other similar articles on the constitution (I have not verified this). If so, the same remark applies there. (talk) 21:18, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

When I first read it I had the similar sense that the expalnation was repeating the text, but when I went back to try to fix it I found that few of the sections actually begin with a repeat, and when they do they are usually qualified. In the few cases I find it doesn't seem to be a major problem. RJFJR (talk) 17:28, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

A question[edit]

I moved this from the main page as misplaced. It does seem a valid point.

"'Finally, Congress has the power to do whatever is "necessary and proper" to carry out its enumerated powers and, crucially, all others vested in it.' Is this correct? A literal reading only implies that the enumerated power are those that are "foregoing" and others explicitly granted in the Constitution (ie: by amendments etc). There is no implication that this points to un-enumerated powers, despite how it was interpreted by politically appointed justices."

TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 22:00, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

I think the original statement is fair. While it has certainly been argued that Congress has only those powers that are explicitly provided for in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has taken a broader view of those powers - that it has the implied power to use means not explicitly granted in the Constitution in order to carry out those that are explicitly granted. The following is from the 1819 McCulloch v. Maryland decision:
We admit, as all must admit, that the powers of the government are limited, and that its limits are not to be transcended. But we think the sound construction of the constitution must allow to the national legislature that discretion, with respect to the means by which the powers it confers are to be carried into execution, which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it, in the manner most beneficial to the people. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional.
-- JPMcGrath (talk) 04:06, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Citation needed[edit]

Section 7 clause 1 Has a "citation needed" tag: The House has claimed it alone may originate [[appropriation bill]]s as well; the Senate opposes this claim.{{Citation needed|date=October 2009}}

Does anyone have a citation for this? It's the only citation needed tag left in the article. RJFJR (talk) 02:29, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

While I am don't doubt that Senators will grab for whatever power they think the can get, or that some rogue Senator would make such a claim, I find it unlikely that the Senate as a body would have done so, given how explicit the Constitution is on the matter. In any case, this statement demands a citation, and since the statement has stood with {{citation needed}} for four months, I have axed it. -- JPMcGrath (talk) 20:06, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
It is well known that the Senate has, from time to time, passed legislation and forwarded it to the House, and had it "blue-slipped": a letter from the House returning the bill as improperly originating in the Senate, due to (allegedly) being a bill raising revenue (so named because the letter is apparently written on blue paper). I think it's fair to say that those are institutional actions: claims being made by the Senate and House, respectively. MrArticleOne (talk) 03:01, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I think it is fair to say that the House has returned bills to the Senate, saying that it had encroached on its authority under Section 7. The statement that the Senate opposes the House claim was not supported by a citation from a reliable source. -- JPMcGrath (talk) 06:13, 14 March 2010 (UTC)


This article has been tagged as need a more complete summary. This article is on one article (the first) of the US constitution which establishes and limits the legislature. It is a very detailed analysis of that one article. If you want to know how the constitution was written go to the article on the US constitution, if you want to know the history leading up to the constitution go the article on the whole constitution. If you want to know about all the articles of the constitution then you'll need to read all the articles about the individual articles of the US constitution. This is intentionally a very specific and detailed look at one part of the US constitution. It looks like the detailed analysis was split into separate articles because if they were combined at this level of detail it would be too long.

I don't understand what people want for a summary in a detailed article. RJFJR (talk) 16:06, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Confusing statment - "the first day it was permitted to do so"[edit]

In Section 8: Powers of Congress the following sentence is written:

"Although the international slave trade was allowed until 1808, Congress prohibited it on January 1, 1808, the first day it was permitted to do so."

What does it mean when it says "the first day it was permitted to do so" ? Can someone edit that so that its clearer? Fresheneesz (talk) 08:52, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

From Article Five of the US Constitution
"Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate." (talk) 04:46, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Section 9[edit]

I changed Section 9 to more accurately summarize the Ex parte Milligan case. Neosiber (talk) 08:33, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Overuse/misuse of "sic"[edit]

I noticed that on several occasions there is a [sic] after the word "chuse" (choose). Using sic in that context is an anacronism: when the constitution was written the language had not yet been entirely standardized: there was no authority to say that "choose" is correct and "chuse" incorrect; at the time they were equally correct. Spelling names of persons in several different ways during this time was also derived from the language not being wholly standardized. So it is an anacronism to represent "chuse" as an error or typo, when it in fact was not an error or a typo in the late 18th century. You can't use 21st century spelling rules for the 18th century. -- (talk) 03:11, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

That's not a misuse. That's standard practise to indicate "this is in the original". It's not indicating an error. Believing it does is an error. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 03:26, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
The fact that it is in the original is obvious (the article has a link to the document). The [sic] is not required to prove that. There is no reason to use a [sic], as "chuse" was not an incorrect spelling at the time of the document. The use of [sic] in direct quotes of historical documents prior to modern times is not standard practice within historians, since they know that spelling has changed multiple times. Applying 21st century rules to the 18th century is the very definition of an anachronism. -- (talk) 05:00, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
"The fact that it is in the original is obvious" Is it really? Then why do spellings keep getting changed? And since we're dealing with a modern general readership, & not a strictly scholarly one, warning that the original spelled it a given way is appropriate, even necessary. Indeed, it's insufficient, since even with the warning, spellings keep getting changed: that is, the "wrong" spellings are being "corrected". TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 06:57, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Where is the "Postal Clause?"[edit]

If a visitor wanted to make sense of Section 8, Clause 7 in Article 1, they will not locate it here, and neither if they go to the Postal Clause page. Needs work. KSRolph (talk) 04:22, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

Link to main[edit]

In the section on "Bills of revenue", there's a hat note linking to the main article: Origination Clause. I would like to make that a piped link: Bills of Revenue. If no objection, this seems more standard (in a section that links to a main article, almost always the title of the section matches the link to main).Anythingyouwant (talk) 19:52, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Make it easy to find the text for heaven's sake![edit]

Wikipedia is my favorite resource. But it is possible to go too far; to add more text than needed.

I come to this article (as many do) to FIND THE TEXT of the Constitution. Oh, yes, it's there ... buried in someone's "added value." And I see no obvious link to THE SIMPLE TEXT.

Actually I came to this Article after first going to the Constitution article and not finding the text there.

I suppose I could keep Wiki'ing for the SIMPLE TEXT, but I'm back to Google. Sad ... since I've previously learned to start with Wikipedia ... but it's now become "too good." :-)

James Dow Allen — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:41, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Section 5 original text is absent[edit]

As the headline suggests, the section 5 original text is gone.

Never mind, the Section 5 header is gone and appears to be lumped in with section 4. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:21, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Section 9 is incomplete[edit]

there's no mention of habeas corpus or any clauses after the first one.Walker Slake (talk) 04:10, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

RE:edit removing complete text[edit]

I was bold this afternoon and removed the complete text from the article. These are the 4 reasons why I did this:

  • The text of Article I is already interspersed within the body of this article,
  • Wikisource includes the full text of Article I and a link to it is included in this article,
  • Wikimedia includes an audio recording of the Article I text and a link to it is included in the article,
  • To bring this article's general page layout into conformity with that of Articles II, III, & IV (the Constitution's other multi-section articles).

Drdpw (talk) 20:50, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

corrected an uniform rule of naturalisation[edit]

I've changed 'a uniform rule of naturalisation' to 'an uniform rule'. See a picture of the original text to verify it. Apparently, they pronounced uniform without the Y sound at the start - say it with a hard U, as in 'undo'. A phonetic vowel is the only reason 'an' appears in the original instead of 'a'. Thanks, Adam-- (talk) 19:41, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

"Coin" could also mean "invent" or "create", not just metal coin[edit]

This distinction is obviously crucial. It seems unlikely the founders were ignorant of the difference between public and private currency, or between asset vs debt-based currency. Rwinkel (talk) 18:28, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

Enclave Clause[edit]

Enclave Clause redirects here, but the word enclave appears nowhere in the article. Is that another name for the capital district clause, or what? —Tamfang (talk) 16:00, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

The Enclave Clause is Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, "The Congress shall have Power To ...exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States....". I'll fine-tune the redirect; thanks. Drdpw (talk) 16:11, 6 October 2016 (UTC)