Outlines of the Constitution of the United States.

Part I.

SOVEREIGNTY.—Legally vested in the electors of the States, organized within the Constitution as the amending power.

Part II.

GOVERNMENT.—Two co-ordinate sets of governing organs, national and State, acting within the spheres marked out for them by the Constitution. Each set of organs is independent of the other, but both are subject to the common sovereignty:

  • (a) National Government.—Can only act within the sphere of powers granted to it by the Constitution.
    • (1) National Executive Department.—Power vested in the President, chosen under the Constitution by the electors of the States. Some executive acts require assent of Senate.
    • (2) National Legislative Department.—Power vested in Congress; House of Representatives elected by people of States in proportion to population; Senate consisting of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature of the State. President has a veto, which may be overridden by a two-thirds majority of each House.

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    • (3) National Judicial Department.—Power vested in the Supreme Court of the United States, established by the Constitution, and other federal courts established by Congress under powers conferred by the Constitution.
  • (b) State Governments.—Can only act within the residuary sphere of powers which are neither prohibited to the State Governments nor exclusively given to the Federal Government. Within that sphere, the Government of each State is vested in the electors of the State organized within the Constitution of the State. Subject to the Federal Constitution and the Constitutions of the States:—
    • (1) State Executive Departments.—Power vested in State Governors appointed under State Constitutions.
    • (2) State Legislative Departments.—Power vested in State Legislatures, elected under State Constitutions.
    • (3) State Judicial Departments.—Power vested in State Courts established under State Constitutions.

Part III.

RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES, AND IMMUNITIES.—Defined by the Constitution as amended from time to time. Subject to modification by the sovereign people, but secure against Federal and State Governments.

Part IV.

AMENDMENT.—The mode of amendment by the sovereign people prescribed by the Constitution requires:—(1) Initiation by two-thirds majority in each House of Congress, or (on the demand of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the States) by a Constitutional Convention; (2) ratification by Legislatures or Conventions in three-fourths of the States. An amendment depriving any State of its equal representation in the Senate requires the consent of that State. The process of amendment is itself subject to amendment in the prescribed mode.

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2. The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen19 shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors20 in the sovereignty21 of the United Kingdom.

CANADA.—The provisions of this Act referring to Her Majesty the Queen extend also to the Heirs and Successors of Her Majesty, Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.—British North America Act, 1867, sec. 2.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—The clause as originally drawn in the Sydney Convention, 1891, was taken verbatim from the Canadian clause, supra. In Committee, on Mr. Rutledge's suggestion, the words “in the sovereignty” were substituted for “Kings and Queens.” (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1891], p. 557.) As drawn at the Adelaide session, 1897, the clause ran:—“This Act shall bind the Crown and the Executive officers of the Commonwealth, and its provisions referring to Her Majesty the Queen shall extend,” &c. Mr. Higgins moved the omission of the words “and the Executive officers of the Commonwealth,” and this was agreed to. (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 619–20.) At the Sydney session, there was a short discussion on the words “This Act shall bind the Crown.” (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], pp. 225–7.) At the Melbourne session, verbal amendments were made before the first report and after the fourth report.

In England, the Crown Law officers recommended the omission of the words “This Act shall bind the Crown” (Parl. Paper, May, 1900, p. 19). In the Bill as introduced into the Imperial Parliament this course was adopted, and the clause was worded “The provisions of this Act, and of the Constitution set forth in the schedule to this Act,” etc—

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the Constitution being then placed as a “schedule” to the Bill. When the original form of clause 9 was restored in Committee, and the word “schedule” omitted, the words in italics became inapplicable; and before the third reading they were omitted.