THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
The Bill of Rights
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States
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.
Clause 1: The House of Representatives shall be composed
of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several
States, and the Electors in each State shall have the
Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch
of the State Legislature.
Clause 2: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have
attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a
Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be
an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Clause 3: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned
among the several States which may be included within this Union,
according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined
by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those
bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not
taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. (See Note 2) The
actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first
Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every
subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law
direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for
every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one
Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the
State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three,
Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one,
Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania
eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina
five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
Clause 4: When vacancies happen in the Representation from any
State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election
to fill such Vacancies.
Clause 5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and
other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Clause 1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of
two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof,
(See Note 3) for six Years; and each Senator shall
have one Vote.
Clause 2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence
of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be
into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class
shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the
second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the
third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one
third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by
Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature
of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary
Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which
shall then fill such Vacancies. (See Note 4)
Clause 3: No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have
attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen
of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an
Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
Clause 4: The Vice President of the United States shall be President
of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally
Clause 5: The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a
President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or
when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all
Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on
Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is
tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be
convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members
Clause 7: 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
Clause 1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding
Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed
in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at
any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the
Places of chusing Senators.
Clause 2: The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year,
and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, (See Note
5) unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Clause 1: Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections,
Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of
each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller
Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to
compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and
under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Clause 2: Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings,
punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the
Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Clause 3: Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and
from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may
in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the
Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of
one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Clause 4: Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall,
without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three
days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses
shall be sitting.
Clause 1: The Senators and Representatives shall receive
a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and
paid out of the Treasury of the United States. (See Note 6)
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the
Peace, beprivileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the
Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning
from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House,
they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
Clause 2: No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for
which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the
Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or
the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such
time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States,
shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in
Clause 1: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate
in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or
concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Clause 2: Every Bill which shall have passed the House of
Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be
presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he
shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections
to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter
the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to
reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that
House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together
with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall
likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that
House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of
both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names
of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered
on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not
be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted)
after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a
Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress
by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall
not be a Law.
Clause 3: Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence
of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary
(except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the
President of the United States; and before the Same shall take
Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him,
shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of
Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations
prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and
collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and
provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United
States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform
throughout the United States;
Clause 2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
Clause 3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the
several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
Clause 4: To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and
uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United
Clause 5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign
Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
Clause 6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the
Securities and current Coin of the United States;
Clause 7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
Clause 8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by
securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive
Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
Clause 9: To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
Clause 10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on
the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
Clause 11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and
make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
Clause 12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of
Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the
land and naval Forces;
Clause 15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the
Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
Clause 16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the
Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed
in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States
respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority
of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by
Clause 17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases
whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square)
as may, byCession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress,
become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to
exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent
of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for
the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other
Clause 18: 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.
Clause 1: 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, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such
Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be
suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the
public Safety may require it.
Clause 3: No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Clause 4: No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless
in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed
to be taken. (See Note 7)
Clause 5: No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any
Clause 6: No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce
or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor
shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter,
clear, or pay Duties in another.
Clause 7: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in
Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular
Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all
public Money shall be published from time to time.
Clause 8: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United
States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them,
shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any
present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from
any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Clause 1: No State shall enter into any Treaty,
Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal;
coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and
silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of
Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of
Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
Clause 2: No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay
any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be
absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the
net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on
Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the
United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision
and Controul of the Congress.
Clause 3: No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any
Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace,
enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a
foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in
such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Clause 1: The executive Power shall be vested in a
President of the United States of America. He shall hold his
Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice
President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows
Clause 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the
Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the
whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may
be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or
Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United
States, shall be appointed an Elector.
Clause 3: The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and
vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be
an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall
make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of
Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and
transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United
States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of
the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall
then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes
shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole
Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who
have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the
House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of
them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from
the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner
chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes
shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State
having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a
Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority
of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case,
after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest
Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But
if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the
Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President. (See Note
Clause 4: The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the
Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which
Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Clause 5: No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of
the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this
Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;
neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not
have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen
Years a Resident within the United States.
Clause 6: In Case of the Removal of the President from Office,
or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers
and Duties of the said Office, (See Note 9) the Same shall
devolve on the VicePresident, and the Congress may by Law provide for
the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the
President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then
act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until
the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
Clause 7: The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his
Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor
diminished during the Period for which he shall have been
elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other
Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Clause 8: Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall
take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear
(or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my
Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the
Clause 1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of
the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the
several States, when called into the actual Service of the United
States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal
Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject
relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall
have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against
the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of
the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators
present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice
and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other
public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and
all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are
not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established
by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such
inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone,
in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
Clause 3: The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies
that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting
Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress
Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their
Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and
expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both
Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between
them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn
them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive
Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that
the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the
Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all civil
Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on
Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high
Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The judicial Power of the United States, shall
be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the
Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges,
both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices
during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for
their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished
during their Continuance in Office.
Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases,
in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of
the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made,
under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other
public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and
maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United
States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more
States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;
(See Note 10)--between Citizens of different States,
--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants
of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof,
and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers
and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the
supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other
Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate
Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and
under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
Clause 3: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment,
shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where
the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed
within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as
the Congress may by Law have directed.
Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall
consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their
Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be
convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to
the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of
Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of
Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each
State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every
other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner
in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and
the Effect thereof.
Clause 1: The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to
all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
Clause 2: A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or
other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another
State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State
from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State
having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
Clause 3: No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under
the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any
Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or
Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom
such Service or Labour may be due. (See Note 11)
Clause 1: New States may be admitted by the Congress into
this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within
the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by
the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without
the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well
as of the Congress.
Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all
needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other
Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this
Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of
the United States, or of any particular State.
The United States shall guarantee to every
State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect
each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the
Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be
convened) against domestic Violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose Amendments to this
Constitution, or, on
the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several
States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which,
in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as
Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of
three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three
fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may
be proposed by the Congress; 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
Clause 1: All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before
the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the
United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which
shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or
which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States,
shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every
State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or
Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Clause 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the
Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and
judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several
States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this
Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a
Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be
sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the
States so ratifying the Same.
(Note: the following links will take you to the The National Archives
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present
the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence
of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof
We have hereunto subscribed our Names,
Presidt and deputy from Virginia
Gunning Bedford jun
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
James Madison Jr.
Richd. Dobbs Spaight
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Wm. Saml. Johnson
For biographies of the non-signing delegates to the Constitutional Convention,
see the Founding Fathers page.