The United States Constitution (1787)

National Archives and Records Administration
September 17, 1787

Below is a transcript of the Constitution in its original form provided by the United States' National Archives. Please note: "Items that are hyperlinked have since been amended or superseded."

United States Constitution We the PeoplePreamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.

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.

Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section. 9.

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

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.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section. 10.

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.


Article. II.

Section. 1.

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List 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 shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing 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. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section. 2.

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; 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, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.


Article III.

Section. 1.

The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section. 2.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State,--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section. 3.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.


Article. IV.

Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section. 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.


Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.


Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.


Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, the Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.

Attest William Jackson Secretary

done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

G°. Washington
Presidt and deputy from Virginia

Delaware
Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom

Maryland
James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl. Carroll

Virginia
John Blair
James Madison Jr.

North Carolina
Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight
Hu Williamson

South Carolina
J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler

Georgia
William Few
Abr Baldwin

New Hampshire
John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman

Massachusetts
Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King

Connecticut
Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman

New York
Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey
Wil: Livingston
David Brearley
Wm. Paterson
Jona: Dayton

Pennsylvania
B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt. Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris


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Library Topic: What is Liberty?
Library Topic: Electoral College
Library Topic: Regulations in America
Library Topic: Growth of Government
Library Topic: Constitutional Limits
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Quotes on Executive Privilege.

Commentary or Blog Post

An article covering the use of executive privilege in the al Haramain Islamic Foundation case.

President Bush invoked executive privilege today for the first time in his administration to block a Congressional committee trying to review documents about a decades-long scandal involving F.B.I. misuse of mob informants in Boston.

Citing executive privilege, President George W. Bush on Wednesday rejected a subpoena for his close adviser Karl Rove to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors.

"It seems that the House Judiciary Committee is considering seeking help from the Justice Department to enforce contempt citations against Bush administration officials such as Joshua Bolten who refuse to respond to congressional inquiries into alleged White House wrongdoing. That would be a mistake.

Such a strategy leaves Congress beholden to hostile executive branch officials to...

"Last Friday, Heritage's Steve Bucci wrote a piece on the defeat of the cybersecurity legislation in the Senate and called for President Obama to respect the will of the people's duly elected representatives. However, President Obama seems to have missed that blog, since over the weekend, White House press secretary Jay Carney sent an e-mail indicating that the President is indeed considering...

"Over the weekend, a draft of a cybersecurity executive order was shown to members of the press. Leaked reports of secretive decision making are what the U.S. gets when the President decides to ignore the democratic process and implement rules by executive fiat. The U.S. also gets policies that are often incomplete and poorly thought out.

Reports indicate that the executive order will...

"President Obama's decision Wednesday to assert executive privilege to shield his attorney general and the Justice Department from congressional investigators reignited a long-running Washington debate over the limits of White House power in which Obama has argued both sides."

"Post-9/11, the Bush administration has expanded the use of the state secrets privilege (SSP) to withhold evidence and dismiss cases that challenge the administration in U.S. courts. In doing so, the Bush administration is threatening judicial oversight and legal challenges of the Executive Branch's unraveling of civil rights and disregard for human rights in the name of the 'war on terror.'"

"The top Republican lawmaker investigating the botched gun-trafficking operation known as Operation 'Fast and Furious' pressed the White House late Monday to explain why it decided to invoke executive privilege over documents requested as part of the probe — a last-ditch attempt to reach an agreement with the Obama administration and fend off a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr."

"A federal judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and the FBI over the agency's spying on Orange County Muslims, ruling that allowing the suit to go forward would risk divulging sensitive state secrets."

"The Republican-run House voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, protesting his refusal to turn over documents related to the 'Fast and Furious' gun-trafficking investigation.

GOP lawmakers cast Holder as an obstructionist in the probe of a botched operation that contributed to the death of a border patrol agent; Holder and White House officials...

Article discussing the reasons for public officials to hold their meetings in public rather than in private.

"For the first time in nearly 60 years, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the limits of 'state secrets,' a legal doctrine the government often cites to quash lawsuits it says could expose information vital to national security."

"The House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting -- a discredited operation that has become a sharp point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

The House approved a pair of criminal and civil measures against the attorney...

"The House of Representatives voted Thursday to make Eric H. Holder Jr. the first sitting attorney general held in contempt of Congress in U.S. history after he withheld documents that Republican lawmakers demanded as part of an investigation into a flawed gunrunning operation."

"The GOP-led House voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to provide key information pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, making Holder the first sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt.

The vote was 255-67, with 17 Democrats breaking ranks to side with Republicans in favor of contempt.

The vote follows a roughly 16-...

An article concerning the SEC and the Bernard Madoff scandal.

"Obama and his successors in the White House would be banned from using false claims of national security to conceal 'embarrassing or unlawful conduct' by the government, under new legislation proposed by lawmakers on both sides of the House."

An article covering the abuses by government officials with their power in the name of national security.

An article covering the clause of the Constitution that states the president requires a congressional declaration to declare war.

An article discussing Karl Rove's refusal to testify before a House Judiciary Committee. His lawyer argued he was immune from the subpoena on "executive privilege."

"Yesterday, Mitt Romney assailed President Obama for a lack of transparency in invoking executive privilege to withhold documents related to the botched gun-walking Operation 'Fast and Furious' to the House Government and Oversight Committee. In the Romney campaign's released statement, headlined 'Transparent Hypocrisy: Obama's Fast and Furious Broken Promises,' Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: 'President Obama's pledge to be transparent has turned out to be just another broken promise.' Romney is following Republicans in Congress who already have seized upon the issue for partisan and political gain. Last month, in a vote of 255 to 67, with 108 Democrats abstaining, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. in contempt of Congress, a move that Holder described as a proxy attack against President Obama."

An article discussing the use of executive privilege by presidents and its history.

A description and brief history of executive privilege and its use among American presidents.

An examination into the Unitary Executive Theory that, according to Steven G. Calabresi and Christopher S. Yoo, appears to display itself in every president from Washington to Bush.

"In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the proper use and possible abuse of executive orders and other presidential directives. Many citizens and lawmakers expressed concern over the content and scope of several of President Bill Clinton's executive orders and land proclamations. Congress responded with hearings and the consideration of several bills designed to curb the...

Eric Alterman delves into the history of executive privilege and questions Bush's use of it.

"Congress and the White House appear headed for a showdown over President Bush's decision to invoke executive privilege to deny documents to House and Senate committees and prevent former aides from testifying about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Lawmakers, in turn, have threatened to hold subpoenaed officials in contempt of Congress.

Here are some questions and answers about the...

Analysis Report White Paper

An article discussing the history of executive privilege and tracing its roots throughout the various presidents.

An article on the importance of executive privilege and the separation of powers.

An Amici Curiae on the State Secrets Privilege and its role in the diminishing respect of the judiciary as a separate branch in national security issues.

An article answering the question "What is Executive Privilege?"

"Executive privilege is the president's constitutional prerogative to withhold certain information requested by Congress. This prerogative is justified primarily by the president's need to receive candid advice from his advisers."

A review of Thomas Jefferson and the Executive Power by Jeremy D. Bailey.

An article detailing the author's beliefs concerning executive privilege and the State Secrets Privilege. The author asserts that other factors should be considered before a "blanket" claim to executive privilege can be made.

This article examines the origin of the State Secrets Privilege. It delves into English precedence and its development in American governmental procedure.

This article describes denial of President Bill Clinton's claim to executive privilege in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

A transcript from a hearing given by Todd Gaziano on the procedures surrounding executive privilege.

This article examines whether an employee of an executive agency can claim executive privilege or if that power lies only with those who make actual policy decisions.

"What is the state secrets privilege? Under this privilege, the executive branch claims that the disclosure of certain evidence in court may damage national security and therefore cannot be released in litigation."

An analysis into the Supreme Court case of Cheney vs. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It deals with the issues surrounding executive privilege in action.

The history and procedure of White House aides testifying in court and the requirements for such to occur.

In the ways that count, the Classified Information Procedures Act and the State Secrets Protection Act are absolutely nothing alike.

The preface and first chapter of Jeremy D. Bailey's book on Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power.

This article discusses the origins of executive privilege and its use throughout the various presidencies.

Video/Podcast/Media

Thomas E. Woods Jr, discusses the views of various presidents and their use of presidential power.

Dr. Mitch Sollenberger discusses executive privilege and its history. He explains the reasons presidents give for declaring executive privilege.

Becoming President of the United States has always guaranteed a place in history. But increasingly, becoming President guarantees something else— millions of dollars. Jim Axelrod reports.

Mark Rozell speaks on the topic of executive privilege. He states his belief that it is a constitutionally based power but it is also one subject to misuse and should be balanced with the other branches.

Primary Document

An act of parliament further limiting the power of the king and his authority over his subjects.

President Andrew Jackson's letter to the Senate stating that the executive, as a separate political body equal to the Senate, is not required to disclose private interactions with its council without sufficient reason.

An article discussing Attorney General Eric Holder's new policy on State Secrets Privilege and procedures surrounding its use.

A political writing by King James I of England entitled Basilikon Doron.

Blackstone's work is considered the most authoritative statement of the pre-American Revolution common law.

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet enforces the principle that kings are divinely established and rule by God's authority.

Campbell v Hall was a case decided in the Court of King's Bench in 1774. On its face it was an action for recovery of sums paid to a tax agent.

The Supreme Court case dealing with Vice-President Cheney's involvement with the National Energy Policy Development Group. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the District court should have considered Cheney's demand for privilege.

A legislative bill passed by Congress dealing with Classified Information and national security.

"Congress's contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance, to punish the contemnor, and/or to remove the obstruction. Although arguably any action that directly obstructs the effort of Congress to exercise its constitutional powers may constitute a contempt, in recent...

A case involving a group of knights who were wrongfully imprisoned. They appealed for a writ of habeas corpus, which was denied but the court ruled that the king couldn't imprison people whenever he wished.

Dwight D. Eisenhower's policy on executive privilege. It says that responsibility for information disclosed shall lie with the president alone. No person shall testify or communicate information received in meetings regardless of who would benefit from it.

The English Bill of Rights passed in 1689. It laid out the rights of the citizens of England. It was a restatement of the Declaration of Right stated earlier that year.

An executive order issued by President William Howard Taft stating that an official is required to furnish all information requested of him unless, in his judgment, it is detrimental to the public interest.

This Order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, declassifying, and safeguarding national security information.

An executive order issued by President Ronald Reagan asserting the executive privilege of former and incumbent presidents dealing with the release of information by the National Archives and Records Administration.

An executive order by President William J. Clinton establishing procedure for Classified National Security Information.

An executive order by President Bill Clinton amending Executive Order 12958.

This executive order delivered by President Bill Clinton declares all classified information 25 years old shall be termed declassified and used to establish the Information Security Oversight Office.

An executive order issued by President George W. Bush establishing his new policy for the maintenance of national secrets and national security issues.

This executive order amends executive order 12958 on classified national security information.

An executive order issued by President Barack Obama revoking Executive Order 13233. It allows for information concerning previous presidents to be released, but executive privilege can be established if deemed necessary.

Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation sought damages from the United States over alleged contract breaches.

Thomas Jefferson's letter to George Hay asserting his executive privilege to disclose parts of a letter dealing with Aaron Burr's trial, but also to withhold the information not pertaining to the matter.

Thomas Jefferson writes that certain matters of the executive branch are public, and they can be disclosed without hesitation. Some matters ... are considered private and should be known only to the executive branch for the sake of national security.

Thomas Jefferson's letter to George Hay Washington discussing whether the President can be subpoenaed.

Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan revolves around the structure of society and legitimate government.

Hobbes argued that a state of nature (an environment without a government imposing order) would be "the war of all against all" and life in such an environment would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

The Magna Carta was the first set of rules curtailing an English king's power. It was formulated and passed under King John's reign. Specifically, it curtailed his right to arbitrarily punish subjects. It has been revised many times over the centuries.

A Memorandum issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft on the topic of the Freedom of Information Act.

George Washington respectfully explains to the House of Representatives that, for the sake of present and future negotiations, he cannot release information regarding the present negotiations.

Unless [the President] can give his advisers some assurance of confidentiality, a President could not expect to receive the full and frank submissions of facts and opinions upon which effective discharge of his duties depends.

David Hume's work describing and establishing the practice of passive obedience. This best became known as a religious and political doctrine advocating the absolute supremacy of the Crown and the treatment of any dissent (or more precisely, disobedience) as sinful and unlawful.

"As usurpation is the exercise of power which another hath a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage. When the governor, however entitled, makes not the law, but...

John Stuart Mill was a British political philosopher and politician. In this classic essay, he argues that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

Robert Filmer's defense of the divine right of kings to rule. His theory is founded upon the statement that the government of a family by the father is the true origin and model of all government.

Robert Filmer's defense of the divine right of kings to rule. His theory is founded upon the statement that the government of a family by the father is the true origin and model of all government.

Robert Filmer's defense of the divine right of kings to rule. His theory is founded upon the statement that the government of a family by the father is the true origin and model of all government.

An important document setting out the rights and liberties of the subject as opposed to the prerogatives of the crown (ie. Charles I).

An extensive report on the history and usage of executive privilege among presidents and other members of the executive branch.

The PRA changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public, and established a new statutory structure under which Presidents must manage their records.

This act sets out to amend chapter 22 of title 44, United States Code, popularly known as the Presidential Records Act, to establish procedures for the consideration of claims of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of Presidential records.

To amend chapter 22 of title 44, United States Code, popularly known as the Presidential Records Act, to establish procedures for the consideration of claims of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of Presidential records.

Calvin's Case addressed the question of whether persons born in Scotland, following the descent of the English crown to the Scottish King James VI in 1603, would be considered "subjects" in England.

The Bill declares that in any civil action brought in federal or state court the government has a privilege to refuse to give information and to prevent any person from giving information... if the information could cause harm to national defense.

A Supreme Court case where the Supreme Court ruled that spies cannot sue the CIA or the United States government to enforce an espionage contract.

This charter, granted by Henry when he ascended the throne, is important in two ways.

The fourth part in a series of legal treatises written by Sir Edward Coke.

A transcript of Andrew Grossman's speech before Congress on the unconstitutionality of the State Secret Protection Act.

The first treatise is meant to be a refutation of Robert Filmer's Patriarcha. The second treatise is an outline for a civil government based upon natural rights and contract theory.

The first treatise is meant to be a refutation of Robert Filmer's Patriarcha. The second treatise is an outline for a civil government based upon natural rights and contract theory.

WHERE the legislative and executive power are in distinct hands ... there the good of the society requires, that several things should be left to the discretion of him that has the executive power.

The first treatise is meant to be a refutation of Robert Filmer's Patriarcha. The second treatise is an outline for a civil government based upon natural rights and contract theory.

The Constitution of the United States established the federal governmental system currently in place with three branches of government. The premise of executive privilege developed from the separation of powers clause.

Thomas Jefferson's letter to John B. Colvin discussing adherence to the law and the necessity to occasionally overstep the law in order to protect society.

A Supreme Court case where the Supreme Court ruled on the judicial jurisdiction of espionage cases.

The trial of the seven bishops who opposed King James II and helped usher in the Glorious Revolution and William of Orange.

The trial of Aaron Burr on the charge of treasonous actions against the United States of America. He was later acquitted.

The opinion of the court in the U.S. vs. Nixon trial. The court ruled Nixon must hand over unedited copies of tape-recordings involving conversations between him and seven men indicted in the Watergate Scandal.

The opinion of the case concerning the widows of an Air Force test flight filing for damages and an accident report.

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In a highly regulated society such as ours, it's very easy to get yourself in trouble with the law. Learn more about how to protect yourself with the 5th Amendment and how to interact with the police.
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