Elements of Civil Government eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 176 pages of information about Elements of Civil Government.

AMENDMENT.—­The Constitution prescribes two methods by which it may be amended: 

1.  By a two thirds vote of both houses Congress may propose to the several States amendments to the Constitution.

2.  Upon the application of two thirds of the States, Congress shall call a convention of delegates from the several States for proposing amendments.

An amendment proposed by either method, “when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, shall be valid to all intents and purposes as a part of this Constitution.”

Twenty-one amendments have been proposed by Congress, and seventeen of these have been ratified by three fourths of the State legislatures, and have become parts of the Constitution.  The other four proposed amendments were rejected.  Congress has never called a convention to propose amendments, and no State has ever called a convention to consider those amendments proposed by Congress.

DEPARTMENTS.—­The functions of each branch of government are carefully marked in the Constitution, and the people and their representatives jealously guard the rights of each department.  They believe that the duties of the law-making power, those of the law-enforcing power, and those of the law-explaining power can not be too clearly separated.  If the same officers could make the law, enforce the law, and explain the law, there would be no limit to their authority, and therefore no security to the people.

The framers of the Constitution were wise men; they had seen the abuse of power by Great Britain while the colonies were under her sway, and they determined to guard the liberties of the people by forever separating the legislative, the executive, and the judicial functions.  Their example has been followed in the constitutions of all the States.

The President has no right to interfere with the decisions of the courts, and, except by his veto, can not interfere with the action of Congress.

Congress can not question the decisions of courts, nor can it interfere with the legal actions of the President, except that the Senate may refuse to confirm his appointments to office.

Even the Supreme Court of the United States can not call in question the official acts of the President, so long as he conforms to the law; nor has it any power over the acts of Congress, except merely to decide upon the constitutionality of the laws when they are properly brought before it.

While, therefore, Congress and the President have some remote influence upon the actions of each other, neither has the slightest right to invade the functions of the Supreme Court, or of any other court, even the humblest in the land.

SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS.

1.  Why do foreigners become naturalized?

2.  What is a title of nobility?

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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