Article One of the United States Constitution

Recent months have found me posting articles dealing with our system of government.  I have included articles on civics, federalism, and the preamble to the United States Constitution.  Now I move forward with this series by discussing Article One of the Constitution, the legislative branch.

The founders created a bicameral legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate.  The term for a representative is two years while a senator's term is six years. The number of representatives from each state is based on population while each state has two senators.  Members of the House are more closely associated and connected with typical citizens from the districts that they represent while members of the senate tend to be more highly educated, reflective people who understand and safeguard the principles of freedom and democracy central to our way of life.  Qualifications for holding office in our national legislature are few, reflecting the trust that the founders placed in the hands of citizens in a free society.  First, there is an age requirement of twenty five in the House and thirty in the Senate.  Second, there is a citizenship requirement of seven years in the House and nine years in the Senate.  Finally, members of the House are required to live in the districts that they represent and senators must reside in the state that they represent.  That is it.  There are no further requirements.  It is much more difficult to become qualified as a public school teacher than an elected member of the United States Congress.

The United States Congress is granted eighteen powers that are listed in Section five of Article One.  Eight powers that are denied to Congress are listed in Section nine of Article One.  I will not specifically list the powers granted or denied, but urge you to read them on your own.  If you do not have a copy of the Constitution from which to consult, well shame on you. Every citizen should have a copy close at hand.

Since the Constitution was ratified in 1789, there have been representatives and senators who have brought both honor and dishonor to the legislative branch.  Always attempting to be an optimist, I close by listing a sample of names who have served the legislative branch with honor.  They were not perfect, and you may not have always agreed with their views.  Still, if you research the people on this list, I believe that you will see that they served with honor and held a deep respect for the great American experiment in freedom.  My list includes John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Tip O'Neill, Henry Hyde, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Arthur Vandenberg, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ben Sasse, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Sam Nunn, and Harry Truman.  Many others could be included on my list, but this will hopefully promote thought, discussion, and reaction.

Thanks for reading.


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