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Contents: Constitution | Federal Legislation | State Legislation

Constitution

U.S. Constitution 1788

Preamble:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  • Article I [The Legislative Branch]
  • Article II [The Presidency]
  • Article III [The Judiciary]
  • Article IV [The States]
  • Article V [The Amendment Process]
  • Article VI [Legal Status of the Constitution]
  • Article VII [Ratification]
See the Constitution at Cornell Law.

Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments)

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 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 the witnesses against him; to have 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 reexamined 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.

Amendments 1-27 at Cornell

Amendment XIII [Abolition of Slavery (1865)]

Amendment XIV [Privileges and Immunities, Due Process, Equal Protection, Apportionment of Representatives, Civil War Disqualification and Debt (1868)]
Equal Protection Clause:

"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 due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Amendment XV [Rights Not to Be Denied on Account of Race (1870)]
Specifically the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Amendment XIX [Women's Right to Vote (1920)]

Amendment XXVI [Right to Vote at Age 18 (1971)]

See:
Constitution at Cornell Law School
Constitution at the National Archives

Federal Legislation

State Legislation

Proposition 13 - Calif. - 1978 -
Nearly two-thirds of California's voters passed Proposition 13, reducing property tax rates on homes, businesses, and farms by about 57%. Now, according to the newly amended state constitution property tax rates could not exceed 1 percent of the property's market value and valuations couldn't grow by more than 2% per annum unless the property was sold.

Proposition 13 also started a revolution in the people turning to the initiative process to gain greater control over their lives.
See: Prop 13 at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.


Links:
Major Acts of Congress at enotes
Selected Laws at usinfo.state.gov
Famous Trials and Supreme Court Decisions
U.S. Constitution at usconstitution.com

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last updated 18 Oct 2006