Home American History

American History

Things to Know About the The Constitution

Things to Know About the The Constitution

The United States Constitution is the fundamental framework for
the United States of America. The United States Constitution plays a crucial
role in ensuring the security and integrity of the United States, and more
specifically, the citizens of the country.


The Constitution acts as the highest law of the land and
documents the individual rights which distinguish American society from other
countries. Every law in the United States, in some way was developed in
accordance with the Constitution. 

United States Constitution provides a single legal basis for the fundamental
rights of American citizens through the documentation known as the Bill of


          The Constitution defines the basic
civil liberties, the fundamental rights of American citizens, and the
responsibilities of the Federal and state governments.


          The Constitution acts as a framework
to ensure peace and order in the United States.


          The Constitution organized the balance
of powers between individual citizens, state governments, and the broader
Federal Government of the United States.


          The document serves as a foundation
for any legal entity formed in the country and offers the Government a sense of
direction in regards to organization and function–the Constitution defines the
responsibilities of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of

Constitution has more information regarding the
United States Constitution’s importance.

Unitary System

Unitary System

The concept of
a bicameral legislature has its foundations as early as Ancient Greece and
Rome. Though a more modern application of bicameral legislature is most evident
in medieval Europe, when two houses composed of the aristocrats and the
commoners was developed for representation of the estates within a realm. The
essential purpose of a bicameral legislature was to provide for representation
of both the people or citizens of a nation and the collective states or provinces
in the government system.

representation of both factions in one body of legislature is to provide for a
method of passing legislation or laws by requiring a majority for approval.
This concurrent majority provides for the ability of passing or approving
legislature that is not one-sided, or favoring a particular faction in a
distinct fashion. The United States bicameral legislature, or Congress, is
often cited as a prime example for bicameralism. However, there are different
types of bicameral legislature employed by different governments throughout the

The Federal bicameral system is the one that is
most commonly associated with the integral concept of bicameral legislation.
The United States, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the European Union
all employ a bicameral system. However, the method or structure in which it is
put into effect varies from country to country.

A version of
bicameral legislature that is considered as the classical structure is one that
consists of having two Houses in which the democratic process and the
federalism principle are combined in the sense of representation. The Lower House
is comprised by members based upon population numbers of each State or
province, which are elected by the citizens of each State. The Upper House is
comprised of an equal number of representatives from each State and are chosen
by State legislatures.

The United
States Congress, as well as Mexico and Australia, employ this particular
bicameral system. However, the United States proves to be a unique example for
it was in 1913 that the 17th Amendment was approved in which Senators
would now be elected by popular vote rather than State legislature

Another form of bicameral legislature is the
Aristocratic system. This system is usually derived from governmental
precedence existing in previous provisions. The most notable example is the
British House of Lords. The House of Lords is represented by a number of
individuals who assume their position due to inheritance of nobility titles.
The House of Commons, the second faction in the bicameral system, is one that
is subject to election to fill the positions. However, the positions held
through inheritance have been limited to 92 from 700 due to recent enacted

The Unitary system of bicameral legislature has no
ties to either a federal government or to aristocratic positions. A unitary
state is one that is governed through sovereignty, in which the federal or
central government can only exercise certain powers over them. A bicameral
system in unitary states, such as Japan, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, and
the Netherlands, has different functions than those created under a federal
bicameral legislature. One example could include where the Upper House only has
the power or authority or litigating and vetoing decisions rendered by the Lower

Regarding the various types of bicameral
legislature, the United States Congress proves to be one of a kind, in which
the strict dichotomy is enforced between a democratic ideal and the Federal
institution of government. Even though the Senate is now elected by a popular
vote, Congress still maintains a balance between both factions. 

The Vesting Powers in the Constitution

The Vesting Powers in the Constitution

The United States Constitution grants all legislative powers to Congress in Article I, Section I, commonly referred to as the "Vesting Clause."  The "Vesting Clause" exists also in Articles II and III, in which it also delegates the specific powers that are to be granted to other branches of government–the executive branch and judicial branch. The "Vesting Clause" in the Constitution found in Article I, Section I 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." The language of the text essentially grants all of the legislative authority of the Federal Government to the United States Congress.

The importance of the "Vesting Clause" being employed in the United States Constitution is that it provides for a separation of powers by giving each branch of government specific powers and authority restricted to that particular branch. That is to say, that the legislative powers given to Congress cannot be exercised or employed by the President because he is part of the executive branch. However, the "Vesting Clause" dictates that the powers granted under Article I of the Constitution are exclusive to Congress.

The vesting clauses found in the other two Articles do not include the words "herein granted," which enumerates the powers and authoritative provisions in Article I. The other branches of government are not explicitly restricted by the text and are open to exercise certain "implied" powers that may fall under their jurisdiction. 

However, Congress has employed a power that was not strictly enumerated in the Constitution: investigations. The Supreme Court has long ago validated and affirmed these powers as a contingency of Congress' legislative powers. It is important to note that such investigations are limited to the realm of legislative functions. Congress cannot simply undertake an investigation or compel cooperation in an investigation simply for the purpose of uncovering information at random.

Investigations by Congress are to be bound within their legislative powers and authority. This prevents Congress from overstepping its boundaries and journeying out of its imposed jurisdiction because it would violate the doctrine of separation of powers. On the other hand, the courts have provided for quite a broad interpretation of Congress' powers for investigation. The question of whether Congress is involved in an investigation for ulterior motives would not be a question for the courts. The only concern of the courts would be to determine if such an investigation is within the realm of Congress' authority of power and regulation.

All those required to cooperate with a Congress investigation are liable to be punished by law if refusal is given. Under the Constitution, Congress has the authority to levy a punishment of contempt to those who refuse cooperation with a Congressional investigation. All those participating in such investigations are protected by the Constitution and are guaranteed the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights.  

What You Should Know About the Enumerated Powers

What You Should Know About the Enumerated Powers

The United States Constitution allows for certain powers to be explicitly listed that delegate the extent to which the United States Congress has authority. Congress can be said to have two sets of powers granted to the government body under the Constitution. Article 1 Section 8 includes the listed powers that are vested to Congress, which are referred to as the Enumerated Powers. However, Congress also has implied powers that are set forth and implemented through the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which is also found in Article 1 Section 8. Furthermore, Congress' authority has also been expanded due to the several Amendments committed to the Constitution.

The Enumerated Powers granted to the United State Congress are various and extensive. There are those who believe that the powers and authority of Congress should remain within the limits of the actual provisions as scripted in the Constitution. That is to say, the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of the actual text and that only those powers written into law of the Constitution should be the actual extent of Congress' powers.

However, there also others that believe that in order for Congress to effectually carry out its duties within the realm of its granted jurisdiction, abiding solely by the actual text is unwise. These people support the use of the Necessary and Proper Clause to grant Congress a wider breadth in terms of its jurisdictional authority in order to make sure that the Legislative Branch of government is working effectively and up to its intended purpose. 

As mentioned, there are various powers included as part of Congress' Enumerated Powers which are included into the Constitution's provisions. The following comprises some of the powers that are found in Article 1 Section 8:

          Congress has the power to impose and collect taxes which are to provide for the debts of the United States, as well as for the common defense and welfare of the country. All such taxes are to be implemented equally through the nation.


          The power to borrow money on behalf of the United States.


          The regulation of commerce, both on the international and interstate levels. This also includes Indian Tribes as well.


          Congress has the power to establish currency and coin money.


          The power to establish post offices.


          To provide for and maintain a navy.


          Organizing, training, and arming a militia.


          Exclusive powers to legislative matters of the country.

Other powers that have been granted after the original drafting of the Constitution have come in the form of Constitutional Amendments. Three particular Amendments gave specific powers and authority to Congress that were not included under the Enumerated Powers of Article 1 Section 8: the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and the Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These Amendments gave the power to Congress to allow for legislation regarding the rights of African Americans, such as voting rights, due process, and equal protection under the provisions of law of the United States. 

Understanding the Congress of the Confederation

Understanding the Congress of the Confederation

Article I, Section I of the United States Constitution allows for the creation of the Legislative Branch. The Constitution states that this branch shall be comprised of a bicameral legislature, to be named the Congress. Each body, or House, provide for a system of representation for the States at the Federal level. Congress is to be divided in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The implementation of a bicameral system would be a deviation of prior precedence established by the Articles of Confederation, which employed a unicameral system for State representation. 

The Articles of Confederation would become the law of the land and would be implemented in 1781. Under this body of laws, the United States implemented a unicameral legislature known as the Congress of the Confederation. The main purpose behind the adoption of the system was that the framers of the Articles of Confederation had a legitimate concern of creating a body of government with centralized power. They believed that if too much authority could be given to a centralized body of government, the possibility for despotism and a tyrannical government would be too great. Therefore, the Congress of the Confederation would be the only branch of government in place, with no executive and judicial branches instituted. Congress was given minimal power, with most of the authority being diverted to the States.

The unicameral Congress gave representation to all the states on an equal level, while also allowing the states to have the power to veto most decisions determined by the Congress of Confederation. The only powers the Congress of Confederation had were to regulate foreign and military affairs. Furthermore, Congress at the time had no real power over the States, for they were considered sovereign entities. This meant that Congressional decisions could ultimately be ignored by the States. Eventually, the ineffectiveness of this type of Federal Government would become more than obvious, for economic disputes between the states would erupt due to the lack of uniformity and cohesive legislation. 

This would eventually lead for the Congress of the Confederation to meet on the Convention of 1787, which was called for the purpose of revising and amending the Articles of Confederation. It would be James Madison that would first propose the concept of a bicameral Congress. His plan called for a Lower House to be elected directly by the people, while the Upper House would be elected by the Lower House. However, representatives of smaller states would argue in favor of maintaining a unilateral legislature for it provided for equal representation among the states.

Eventually, the two proposed types of legislature would be combined in a compromise. The House of Representatives, or the Lower House, would provide State representation in proportion to the population of a given State. The Senate would maintain equal representation of the states. Senators would be elected by State legislatures and the Representatives would be directly elected by the people.

The Convention of 1787 would eventually result in the drafting of the United States Constitution, in which the new bicameral legislature would be implemented. Under the new Constitution, Congress would not have more powers so as to provide for a stronger Federal Government. It would dissolve some of the problems under the Articles of Confederation and it would still maintain the sovereignty of the states by delegating specific powers to other issues. Furthermore, a bicameral Congress would provide an internal system of checks in balances in the newly implemented Legislative Branch by delegating certain duties and responsibilities to each House so as to not centralize all the power into one holistic faction. 

An Overview of American History

An Overview of American History

Throughout American History there have been a number of changes that have occurred to the legal system and installations of power in order to help create an equal and well-regulated governing body.
Legal History

America has a rich legal history background; one that has moved from a failing unicameral system of governance to a flourishing bicameral system. The change from one system to another was a necessity seen by members of Government when they realized that they had no actual power over the way in which the states ruled themselves. James Madison suggested a bicameral system in order to bring more power to the Government and to help unify the states in the Union.
Congress of the Confederation

The Congress of the Confederation was the first governing body of the United States. This body was a unicameral government, in which there was little power given to actual Government. All implementations that the Congress wanted could easily be ignored by the states, which were still considered sovereign entities by the standards of America.
Unitary System

The unitary system is a system in which a governing body has control over a certain area and is restricted from having power over other bodies. In the United States, we have a bicameral system in which there are two bodies that work together as one governing group. However, they have limited power against other executive and judicial areas, making the United States one of the most unique unitary-based bicameral systems.
Vesting Power

Vesting power is a power that was written into the Constitution which gives specific powers to each branch of government in the United States. Vesting powers are important because they allow for controlled government, while ensuring that each branch is regulated against another in regards exercising their powers.
Enumerated Powers

Enumerated powers are a series of specific powers that have been given to Congress. These powers tend to all have to do with establishing various functions in the United States or helping to maintain specific groups and organizations, like that of the military.

A Short Legal History of America

A Short Legal History of America

American history and legal history go well together because the establishment of the current government of America is based on the changes and
adaptation of legal status throughout American history. When the United States was first formed, it was governed under a unicameral system of government, known as the Articles of the Confederation. Under this, America was run by one specific body known as the Congress of the Confederation.

This particular governing body served to govern issues regarding foreign concerns, but had no real power over the states as a whole. Any laws or
implementations that the Congress of the Confederation wanted to install did not have to be adhered to. However, legal history of the United States took a turn when James Madison suggested a bicameral governing system for the United States.

This system, in American history, is known simply as Congress. Congress is made up of two bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Their respective duties and criteria are outlined by the articles of the Constitution.

The main purpose of these bodies was to distribute power and to help bring more than one governing body when it comes to issues regarding legal
history and the status of the United States. Once Congress was installed, the sovereignty of the states was diminished and they were unified under a
government establishment. This is where the powers of the legislative and judicial branches were also reconsidered and redistributed. Throughout legal history, Congress has helped to pass a number of Acts to secure rights for individuals and states, as well as Amendments that changed the way in which the Constitution functioned.