Tuesday, August 10, 2010

US Constitution Series, Article I, Section 2

Article I. LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT

§ 2. The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
This section does more than merely establish the House or
Representatives.

The Supreme Court struck down the first attempt at an income tax, because it was a direct tax but not in proportion to the number of Representatives as required by the third paragraph.

On the House may impeach the President. An impeachment is like an indictment. IF the House impeaches, the President gets a trial before the Senate to prove his or her guilt or innocence of the high crimes and misdemeanors.

This section provides for a census (enumeration), the sole constitution function of which is to establish the number of Representatives elected for each state. The count of 3/5 for "other persons" referred to slaves. The constitution seems to recognize indentured servitude, a sort of voluntary slavery, be the reference to "those bound to Service for a Term of Years." Involuntary servitude, except after conviction of a crime was abolished along with slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment.

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