Daily Archives: October 6, 2007

Civics on Saturday: The Constitution, Part II – The Legislative Branch

Thanks for being patient – I didn’t post a Civics on Saturday last week because I was hip-deep in Yoga National Guard.  Anyway, we’re back into it, so here we go!

After writing the Preamble, the Founding Fathers wasted no time in getting right down to it.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution established the legislative branch – the House of Representatives and the Senate – and put down some of the rules by which it operates.

Representatives are voted in every two years by the people of the respective states and, at the time of their election, must be at least 25 years old, have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least 7 years, and must  be a citizen of the state for which they are seeking election.  The number of representatives for a state is determined by that state’s population.

When the Constitution was drafted, senators were chosen by their state’s legislators – that rule was changed by the 17th amendment, ratified in 1791, so that the the people of the state elected their senators.  Senators serve for a term of 6 years, must be at least 30 years old, have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least 9 years, and must be a resident of the state from which he is elected at the time of election.  Each state gets 2 senators, regardless of that state’s population numbers.

The vice president of the U.S. serves as the president of the Senate, but he has no vote unless the body is evenly split about a decision.

The Senate is the body which hears impeachment proceedings.  If an impeachment is brought, the entire body of the Senate operates “on oath” and the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides.  The first article of the Constitution also establishes that, in the event of impeachment, the penalty shall extend no further than removal from office and prohibition from ever holding office again.  It does say, though, that the impeachee may be subject to indictment, trial and conviction under the law – getting kicked out of office may not be the end of the scoundrel’s troubles.

The Houses are ordered to keep a journal of their proceedings and to publish those journals “from time to time… excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy.”

The article sets out how the senators and representatives are to be paid, forbids them from holding other civil office while they’re serving in the U.S. legislature, and establishes a form of diplomatic immunity.

The meat of the article lies in how the Congress creates laws and what its scope includes.  The requirement that a bill be presented to the president for approval is in this article, as well as setting out how a veto can be overridden.  Sections 8, 9, and 10 set out specific “DOs and DON’Ts” that the Congress is tasked with – go and read them; there are a few too many to list here.

Finally, I just wanted to share this with you:  I was looking over my blog stats yesterday (we were talking to the girls about graphs and statistics), and I discovered that someone had gotten to my blog by typing “Hot Chicks and Civics” in their search engine.  How cool is THAT?!

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