VOLUNTARY EXTRA PRACTICE

The practice asks questions on understanding of historic American documents. The suggested answers are not comprehensive; they are ideas that could be of use in creative writing.

 

READ ABUT THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

 

1. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

 

1a. Does the Declaration of Independence concern only males? [Idea]

1b. Does the Declaration require religious adherence for human rights? [Idea]

1c. Is the Pursuit of Happiness a term of legal systematics? [Idea]

 

2. “The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.”

 

2a. Who was the English king? [Idea]

2b. How can we sum up the causes for the Declaration? [Idea]

 

3. WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.

 

3a. Does the Declaration solicit a divine intervention? [Idea]

3b. Do we say the United States is, or the United States are? [Idea]

 

READ ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION

 

4. WE, the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES, in order to…

 

4a. How can we compare the words order and people, if we look to the Constitution and the Great Seal? [Idea]

4b. How can we relate the content of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? [Idea]

 

5. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

 

5a. How can we interpret the phrase habeas corpus? [Idea]

5b. What is the origin and application of the phrase habeas corpus? [Idea]

 

Let us consider word sense, in the following passages from the Constitution. The boldface has the matters of special focus.

 

6. “No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, shall be passed.” [Idea]

 

7. “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States;” [Idea]

 

8. “… he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices;” [Idea]

 

9. “… and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” [Idea]

 

READ ABOUT THE BILL OF RIGHTS AND FURTHER AMENDMENTS

 

10. How can we compare the guidelines for legal practice, in Amendment 6 and Magna Carta? [Idea]

 

(Amendment 6) “In all Criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district …”

 

(Magna Carta) “No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land …”

 

11. How could we paraphrase Amendment 4 with the Infinitive? [Idea]

 

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

12. How could we paraphrase the verb shall in Amendment 6? [Idea]

 

“In all Criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

 

13. How can we comprehend the word enumeration in Amendment 9? [Idea]

 

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

 

Answers

1a. Obviously, the Declaration did not introduce a separate or unequal status for women. The word man alone denotes human kind. The plural, men, means human beings, not human kinds. The use comes from classic Latin translations. To refer to a male, the noun man requires an article or a determiner as a, the, or this. Examples: Man belongs with the Homo sapiens. The man can read. [Back]

 

1b. No, it absolutely does not. The Declaration states that all people are equal in human rights and monarchy is not a work of deity (saying also, “the separate and equal Station). The document addresses the royalist belief, into a divine right to rule. [Back]

 

1c. No, the Declaration never was meant to set out legislation. The document also says, “Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable”, and it never was meant to make laws for suffering. The Declaration remains the most famous document to invoke human happiness, within the law, among the incentives to form a country. [Back]

 

2a. The monarch was George III of the house of Hanover. Often remembered as “Mad King George”, reported by some British resources as ill with porphyria, the king personally decided on policies for America. [Back]

 

2b. George III disabled administration and justice in America. People were forced to give up on political representation, to obtain civilian status. The royalist military took local residents captive, exploited the land and the people, and were not held responsible. [Back]

 

3a. No, it does not. The definite article in the phrase “appealing for the Rectitude of our Intentions” says the Causes are righteous. A phrase as appealing for _ rectitude might have such implications. It does not occur. [Back]

 

3b. The phrase the United States is expresses a unitary concept for a country, as for Germany or France, for example. The phrase the United States are summons up the idea of the country by the people and for the people. USA constituent states have considerable autonomy. Both phrases are grammatically correct. [Back]

 

4a. Word sense changes over time and the word people may help show it. The noun is derived from the Latin populus. It did not connote nationality in ancient times and often referred to laying waste or degrading: perpopulor, to devastate, pillage; populabilis, destructible. Ancient Rome was a militarist culture oriented to status.

 

Nowadays, the noun people means a group of human beings, or a nationality. As a group, it takes a plural verb: The people here all speak English. As a nationality or ethnicity, the noun may take on the plural itself: The peoples of Europe have formed a Union.

 

The word order also comes from Latin. It could mean a rank, group, or a class of people. Cicero’s Philippics have many examples. We use the phrase in order to when we want to tell why or for what purpose something or someone is. In the sense of a group or type, the word ordo did not have to bring associations with an arrangement, as in a line or queue.

 

The language of the Constitution is modern American English. The document opens with the phrase We, the people, meaning the people of the United States of America. The language of the Great Seal mottos is ancient Latin. It has the phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum, which can be comprehended as A New People Come, that is, a new nation has come into existence. Feel welcome to read A new people come. [Back]

 

4b. The Constitution addresses the issues named in the Declaration: establishes the legislative (Article 1), the executive (Article 2), as well as the judiciary (Article 3). It provides against absolutism, instituting impeachment from office. It limits potential by royalist or foreign influence, requiring of the Head of State to be a born American citizen, elected President in free elections. The maximum of two terms of four years in office discourages attempts at hereditary government. Article 4 guarantees a republican form of government, and Article 6 declares the Constitution the binding law of the land, denying the idea of a divine right to govern: no religious tests are allowed as qualifications for an office. Article 7 predicts ratification for adopting constitutional legislation. [Back]

 

5a. The phrase derives from a larger fragment, habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, dated on the English king Edward I. The writ ordered detainee cases to be evaluated in courts of law, with the persons present, to prevent indeterminate incarceration. The fragment is a Latin subjunctive and can be interpreted as (so) that you have the person in court. Similar phrases: habeas corpus ad respondendum, for the detainee to answer in proceedings; habeas corpus ad testificandum, for the detainee to testify. Nowadays, these are the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to guide administration of justice. [Back]

 

5b. The Habeas Corpus Parliament passed The Habeas Corpus Act in 1679, during the reign of Charles II. Habeas corpus is effective in the USA, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Most countries have equivalent legislation, such as the Criminal Procedure Act in Scotland, or article 40.4 of the 1937 Irish Constitution. The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 5, says, “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.” [Back]

 

6. The word attainder comes from the French atteindre, to reach, hit. The bills allowed punishment without trial. They were banned as violating the principle of separation of powers. We may compare Montesquieu on the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary.

 

The Latin word factum meant a deed, act, or exploit. Retroactivity, as ex post facto laws are also called, is forbidden in the USA. Legality of an act may not be disputed with use of regulations adopted after the fact. [Back]

 

7. There have been disputes in the US over the scope of presidential military command. Obviously, in case of a war, it would not honor the civilian authority to have the president the rank of a corporal. However, in the Constitution, the phrase “when called into the actual service of the United States” would be redundant, should the command belong with the President simply as In Office.

 

The Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote, “The propriety of admitting the president to be commander in chief, so far as to give orders, and have a general superintendency, was admitted. But it was urged, that it would be dangerous to let him command in person, without any restraint, as he might make a bad use of it. The consent of both houses of Congress ought, therefore, to be required, before he should take the actual command.”

 

Justice Robert Cooper Grier stated: “The President is not only authorized but bound to resist force by force. He does not initiate the war, but is bound to accept the challenge without waiting for any special legislative authority.” [Back]

 

8. The personal pronoun he remains is legal use for both genders. Here, it is an anaphora to refer to the President. Anaphoras refer back in discourse: “When called into the actual service, the President becomes Commander-in-Chief. He may require the opinion …”

 

Let us compare Article 5 of the European Convention: “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty …”

 

Modern linguistics proposes the forms he or she as well as s/he for short, to avoid anaphoric ambiguity. [Back]

 

9. The President has the right to pardon even capital punishment convicts. The limitation on impeachment is to prevent royalist practices that appointed irremovable officials. [Back]

 

10. Magna Carta does not say that detention is justifiable in criminal cases only. It also has forms of punishment that American codes reject, such as exile or mutilation. The Carta does not state that judgment requires lawyers, and the laws of the land do not provide for a proper place of judgment.

 

The Declaration describes, among the Causes, “FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury: FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences. The Declaration adds, HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.” The Carta never gave the idea as well as ideal for the Amendments. Read about the Bill of Rights. [Back]

 

11. The people have the right to be inviolably secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, and no Warrants are to be issued, unless upon a probable cause to be supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly to describe the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [Back]

 

12. In all Criminal prosecutions, the law warrants a speedy and public trial for the accused, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime occurs; the law requires that the judiciary is identified by the administrative, the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have witnesses in his favor, and to have legal Counsel for his defense. [Back]

 

13. The word enumeration comes from Latin. Latin numerals were letters of the alphabet. For example, X meant 10, XX meant 20. Nowadays also, enumeration does not have to mean digits. It often means naming, presenting.

 

The Founders realized the Constitution did not name all possible rights and it was impracticable for it to make all regulations. The Amendment says the fact a matter is presented (enumerated) in the Constitution does not make it more important than other rights the people have; the fact a particular right is not in the Constitution does not mean it belongs under federal powers. [Back]

 

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THE BILL OF RIGHTS AND FURTHER AMENDMENTS

The New York Congress passed the Bill of Rights in 1789. It became ratified on December 15, 1791. It is the Fifth Article of the Constitution to permit amendments, for the legislation to meet varied circumstances in human lives.

 

The portfolio has a free poster and facsimiles of the original documents.
PORTFOLIO: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
 

In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced December 15 the Bill of Rights Day, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bill adoption.

 

The Bill of Rights, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are also called the Charters of Freedom. We can view the original documents online, at the National Archives, archives.gov.

 

Parts 3 and 4 of our Travel in Grammar expand on phrases and clauses. The Charters of Freedom are rich with those. As with the Constitution, we would not live in a house some 230 years old, without at least refreshing it a little.

 

The script below brings the Amendments to American English as it is today. It is not a correction: we do not bring in any evaluation battery or grammar book, to tell if there is anything wrong.
 

As with the Constitution, and in language assessment generally, we count an error only when the speaker or writer does not show language knowledge enough to be correct. All our update is “text-internal”: all usage comes from the originals, where the assumption that Congressional writers knew the Constitution is obviously not exaggerated. Feel welcome to the NOTES.

 

AMENDMENT I.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

AMENDMENT II.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

 

AMENDMENT III.

No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

 

AMENDMENT IV.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

AMENDMENT V.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

 

AMENDMENT VI.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with witnesses against him, to have the compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

 

AMENDMENT VII.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved; and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

 

AMENDMENT VIII.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

 

AMENDMENT IX.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

 

AMENDMENT X.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

 

AMENDMENT XI.

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit, in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another State, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign State.

 

AMENDMENT XII.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

 

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted.

 

The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice President, shall be the Vice President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.

 

AMENDMENT XIII.

Sect. 1. Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XIV.

Sect. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

 

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

 

Sect. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of Electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in a rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

 

Sect. 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or Elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an Executive or Judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to enemies thereof. But the Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

 

Sect. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing an insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of an insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for a loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations, and claims shall be held illegal and void.

 

Sect. 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

 

AMENDMENT XV.

Sect. 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged, by the United States or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XVI.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

 

AMENDMENT XVII.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislatures.

 

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the Executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided that the Legislature of any State may empower the Executive thereof to make temporary appointments, until the people fill the vacancies by election as the Legislature may direct.

 

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

 

AMENDMENT XVIII.

Sect. 1. After one year from the ratification of this article, the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all the territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof, for beverage purposes, is hereby prohibited.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

Sect. 3. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XIX.

Sect. 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged, by the United States or by any State, on account of sex.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XX.

Sect. 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

 

Sect. 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President, until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may, by law, provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly, until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

 

Sect. 4. The Congress may, by law, provide for the case of death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President, whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

 

Sect. 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

 

Sect. 6. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, within seven years from the date of its submission.

 

AMENDMENT XXI.

Sect. 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

 

Sect. 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States, for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

 

Sect. 3. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XXII.

Sect. 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President, shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative, from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

 

Sect. 2. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several states, within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XXIII.

Sect. 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

 

A number of Electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be Electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXIV.

Sect. 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for Electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged, by the United States or any State, by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXV.

Sect. 1. In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

 

Sect. 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President, who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

 

Sect. 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

 

Sect. 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the Executive departments, or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

 

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office, unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the Executive departments, or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days, to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose, if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

 

AMENDMENT XXVI.

Sect. 1. The right of citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged, by the United States or by any State, on account of age.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXVII.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

 

NOTES TO THE AMENDMENTS

Legislation prescribes. The definite article, the, can have a prescriptive role in legislation.

 

AMENDMENT V.
… nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law.

Original: nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

 

The word process is countable in the American English of today, and court proceedings, on different cases, are independent and individual processes. Online, we can find phrases as the due process of law clause or the due process of law rights: the syntactic expansion, with the words clause or rights, allows the definite article, which is today simply natural in the place. We do not have to use the expansion, to use the article. We may compare Amendment VI.

 

AMENDMENT VI.
A. …to be confronted with witnesses against him; to have the compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Original: to be confronted with the witnesses against him.

 

Witnesses in favor are not a specified set of people, and witnesses against a person are not a prescribed group. Legal proceedings allow bringing in new witnesses, in favor as well as against a person, when the testimonies can be relevant. Today, evidence is more and more prominent, in reaching verdicts.

 

Support in the original: process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.

 

B. To have the compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.

Original: to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.

Paraphrase: to have the compulsory process of obtaining witnesses.
Paraphrase: to have a (?) compulsory process of obtaining witnesses.

 

Generally, legal terms need to stand on their own. We could not paraphrase “the process of” as “a process of“, or “a process for“, to render legislation.

 

The compulsory process (the one in the context) is not to be just any compulsory process; similarly, counsel needs to meet requirements, to deserve the name of the legal assistance.

 

Support in originals: and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense;

In Amendment XIV: nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws;

In Amendment XVII: by election as the Legislature may direct (the definite article is not necessary, if we the law overtly prescribes the manner); we may compare the same Amendment:

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator…

 

We may also compare Amendment V and the phrasing, without just compensation. We might paraphrase it as without proper compensation, but not as *without the proper compensation, as the compensation value needs to correspond with property worth, and that, along with property seizure, cannot be predicted or prescribed in a free country.
 

AMENDMENT XII.
There has been much dispute over beginning sentences with words as and or but. In our writing, we can paraphrase:

 

The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed. If no person shall have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President: but in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one vote. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. If the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

Avoiding and or but, we may use words as more(over) or however. They are yet so closely synonymous then, that our grammatical rule would be boiling down to the number of letters we allow at sentence beginnings. Naturally, we cannot ban three-letter words. 🙂

 

If we resolve to use and or but at a sentence beginning, we can refer to the Constitution and Amendments, for patterns the conjunctions may make in human discourse.

 

AMENDMENT XIII.
Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, except…
Original: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except…

 

Slavery is outlawed, throughout the United States. Service may be imposed, by court verdict.

 

Let us mind that legislation has been put to writing in Congress, the discussion often continuing, and “slips of the pen” have happened. They do not decide the law: we can compare the Constitution parchment.

PARCHMENT PAGE 2 EXCERPT
PARCHMENT PAGE 2 EXCERPT, CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

AMENDMENT XIV
We may agree that humans are mostly male or female, but we could not aver that everyone is either a friend or a foe:
…when the right to vote is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State…
but
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress (…) who shall have engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to enemies thereof…
Original: or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof…
 

We can use the indefinite article for insurrections and rebellions as incidental phenomena.

 

AMENDMENT XX.
The Congress may, by law, provide for the case of death of any of the persons …
Original: The Congress may, by law, provide for the case of the death of any of the persons …

 

Death as cessation of living functions is the same for everyone.
Support in originals, in Amendment XII: as in the case of death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

AMENDMENT XXV.
A Vice President to take the office with Congressional approval is a regular Vice President, not a special type of political function:
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President, who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Original: …a Vice President who shall take office…
 
We may paraphrase and compare amendment XXVI.
…citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older,
means
these citizens of the United States, as differing in age from other citizens of the USA.
In Amendment XXV,
…a Vice President, who shall take office upon confirmation,
means
a regular Vice President, and not *this Vice President as differing from other Vice Presidents.

 

AMENDMENT XXVI.

The right of citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older;

Original: The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older.

 

Age is not a qualification for a citizen, not only in the United States. 🙂
The comma would paraphrase as
United States citizens are eighteen years of age or older.

 

Support in originals, Amendment XXII: and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President

 

The use of the definite and indefinite articles is discussed with the Constitution. Generally and here, it is worth noting that reference for co-temporaneous focus may not require the definite article.
 

Amendment XXII.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President, shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative, from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
 

Similarly, in Amendment XXV.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office, unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the Executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days, to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose, if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble…
Let us mind, the definite article can have senses as this, the one, hence if the Congress, within twenty-one days…

 

Examples as here strengthen me in my view that language is not a system, and grammar works more as a logical set that applies in context. I like the view and expand on it, in parts 3 and 4 of the Travel in Grammar. 🙂
 

We do not need to update the use of the item which, as it remains in linguistic distribution, and corresponds syntactically with the item who: feel welcome to my notes on the Constitution.
GRAMMAR WEB LOG: NOTES TO THE CONSTITUTION IN MODERN AMERICAN ENGLISH
 

We also may compare forum discussions.