Friday, March 25, 2005

Constitutional Notes

Here is the newest issue, for those of you who do not know what this is, these are my observations and things that I noted while reading the American Constitution.

Article 1 Sect. 8: The Constitution only gives Congress the right to create and maintain armies and navies, it does not give a specific definition of these.

Sect. 9.2: The right to of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless there is a rebellion or an invasion. Again, these are not defined. Could the invation of ants count?

Sect. 9.6: Ships cannot be forced to enter another state, what about commonwealths and territories?

Sect. 9.7: "a regular statement and accout of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time." Speaks for itself.

10.3: States cannot keep troops 0r warships without Congress's permission unless it is being invaded or in severe danger of. Again, who decides?

Article 2, 1.7: Presidents will get a suitable compensation, does not have to be money.

2.1: President has power over militia, army, and navy, again these are not defined, nothing about marines, air force, or coast guard.
Yes I know, it's really picky, but this is the Constitution of the United States of America, this is what establishes our government.


GeoBandy said...

Reading the Constitution can be a little tricky because the language has changed a bit since it was written, and because it is a legal, as well as a political document. What Art.I, 9.6 means is that a state cannot require ships bound to or from other states to put into port, submit to inspection ("clear") or pay fees or taxes. In other words, one state can't interfere with or tax the commerce of another. If a state calls itself a commonwealth (a few do) by ratifying the Constitution it becomes a "state" for constitutional purposes. Territories are federal, and would be able to exert only the powers that Congress allotted to the territory, which could not exceed the power the federal government has. Art.I, 10.3 contains severable (separate)provisions, and means a state can't maintain a standing army in time of peace, OR engage in war (using it's own militia, which was NOT a standing army) unless invaded. The state had absolute authority over its own militia...note that Art.2, 2.1 gives the President authority over the "militia of the several (separate and individual) states ONLY "when called into actual service of the United States". Sorry - didn't start out to write a book here!

historyteacher said...

Hey Scriptor!

First of all I am finally able to resume my bog and post comments on others.

Second of all a couple comments concerning your constitution notes. (which I do enjoy reading by the way!)

From "time to time" I believe has been determined by congress to mean quarterly. Chances are if the congress had not clearly defined this, the Supreme Court eventually would have. For instance, in the 5th Article the constitution makes no set time that an amendment must be ratified, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that it must be ratified "in a reasonable amount of time." Congress has interpreted that as 7 years from the time it is proposed.

As far as compensation is concerned I cannot imagine an instance where a court would accept ANY other form of compensation besides money. But your right, interetsing wording in the constitution.

I hope you are doing well and I look forward to communicating with you often!


The Sovereign Editor said...

Scriptor said: "Sect. 9.7: "a regular statement and [account] of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time." Speaks for itself."

Yeah. You'd think so wouldn't you. Just try to enforce it against Congress. I dare you. Actually, never mind. I'll save you the trouble to explain a little known (to non-lawyers) aspect of standing jurisprudence. 'Standing' is a legal term referring to whether or not you can bring an action in court. If you are directly affected by something, and if that something is wrong in itself or wrong because it is prohibited, then you usually have standing (it can get complicated). If something has been done to your friend, you cannot bring an action in court in your own capacity. Now, given what I just said, you'd think that, because Congress' not telling us about all their expenditures violates the Constitution, we would all have standing to bring an enforcement action in federal court. That assessment would be correct. The only problem is that in one of the more bizarre rulings I have ever seen, the Supreme Court held that if everyone has standing, then no one does. (This is not the only strange ruling I've seen -- one of my favorite examples of how irrational and incongruous the Supremes can be is that they are absolutely certain that there is a right to an abortion in the Constitution, but they are not sure whether or not the right of the people to keep and bear arms may be infringed.)

Sorry to bore you with all that legal stuff. Now for something more history-related.

Scriptor points out that the Constitution says "nothing about marines, air force, or coast guard." That is correct, but it doesn't need to. The marines are a lesser-included part of the navy -- everyone at the time and now would understand this to be the case. The naval warships of the Byzantine Empire carried marines (maybe not as an official corps, but foot soldiers were assigned to ships for the purpose of making amphibious assaults). The British navy at the time employed marines. Even if there was no historical concept of a 'marine', the navy would not be acting beyond the pale if they created one because they are directly related to the object and purpose of a navy which is to maintain maritime security.

The Air Force was originally the Army Air Corps. No problems there. Objections may arise now that the Air Force has become a separate branch of the service. However, if I may put on my lawyer hat again, the Air Force could still be a branch of the Army and do everything it does now. So why would it be unconstitutional as a separate branch of the service? It doesn't (nor could it) exercise powers that the Army Air Corps wouldn't have. The only potential issue I can see is funding. It's either army, or navy. In my opinion, the Air Force's mission is much more analogous to that of the navy (protecting the uninhabitable media beyond the ground of this country), but my suspicion is that, for funding, anything that is not a navy is an army (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

The Coast Guard is more interesting. It was originally the Revenue Cutter Service (a civil customs service), a part of the Department of the Treasury. In 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service became the Coast Guard, a military service which, in wartime, comprises the 1st fleet (a navy is a military fleet of ships) which comes under the command of the navy in wartime (I think). So the coast guard is covered either way. Originally, it was an arm of the Treasury department. The Constitution was a framework; it was expected for the different branches to fill in the gaps (so long as their doing so didn't violate the Constitution). It is currently a navy (although, it is currently an enforcement arm of the Department of Fatherland -- oops, I mean Homeland -- security).

Sorry to run long. I talk a lot; it comes from being overeducated and underemployed.

Sleeping_Dragonx said...

I think you're being a little critical. It is true that the language used is going on 250 yrs..., although it is funny looking at it this way!

"Give me what I want and I'll go away"

Joy said...

I got to tell you guys that this is really interesting stuff. I had no idea that the American Constitution was so ambiguous so as to leave it to the layman or laywoman to interpret its articles in anyway he or she sees fit. Brilliant! I think Britain should adopt the same constitutional laws. It would sure make it easier for the people living in my once honourable and noble country.

Britain has more laws than any other country in the world, or it seems that way. Our legal framework can invoke charters going back to William I (William the Conqueror to you guys) to press home a legal point. If the Saxons had such charters the powers that are would use them too! Bloody hell! Come to think about it, if the Celts had a written set of laws, our government would certainly use them to bludgeon the citizenry into further submission.

You guys are lucky – you have a constitution to protect you from being f**** over by your government. We in Britain, on the other hand, have a set of laws stacked in favour of our government. Trust me – the British from the day of their birth get screwed by their ‘elected representatives’.

In Britain, a man cannot break wind in the street for fear of being charged with polluting the atmosphere. You can be fined for spitting or allowing your dog to do its business in public places. Oh, and if you piss your neighbours off, you’ll get a visit from the local constabulary who will tell you ‘Be quiet! There’s a good chap.’ Although they are not always that polite. The chances are you would be slapped with a restraining order.

On a more serious level – have an altercation with your neighbour involving raised voices then you could face up to 7 years in prison. I’ve known one or two people who have done time for such a crime. The law in Britain calls this crime ‘an affray’. I call it human nature to let off steam.

Oh, we don’t have the right to remain silent if we are arrested. They took that right away from us a few years ago. Stay silent and they will use it against you in a court of law.

It is true that we do not have the right to bear arms, which is just as well because we would shoot all the half arse politicians who make our bloody laws. That said - I believe an antigun law is good. We have so many idiots in Britain that the hospital services would be over run with people who had shot themselves in the foot.

Another example of British law gone mad is the recent hunting ban introduced by the government. Ok, I don’t like hunting for foxes with a pack of hounds. I think it is cruel. However, I believe it is up to the individual to judge for him or herself what is right or wrong when it comes to hunting for vermin. Why introduce a law that goes against what has been a time honoured tradition in Britain?

Talking of vermin – do British politicians constitute vermin and a menace to British Society? Perhaps! If that is the case, then there is scope for introducing a new law allowing British citizens to hunt half wit politicians who deny them freedom of movement, speech and expression.

Hey! I have an idea – you guys invaded Iraq to bring them democracy. Would it be too much ask if you could do the same for your poor cousins in Britain? We would be very accepting and we promise not to start an insurgency campaign against you.

If I hadn’t sworn an oath to my Queen, I would strike out for a Republic of Britain! I was such a silly man when I was younger. As they say, wisdom and regret comes with age.


PS. Please forgive my cynicism – I’m having an off day and needed to lighten up a little. Sorry you guys were the target. 

ABL said...


FYI. Just referenced your Constitutional Notes on my blog,

All the best,
Wild Rider