No, it’s not in the Constitution
As those dishes are cleared and the chairs pushed back from the Thanksgiving table, the conversations can touch on a lot of topics — food, football, politics, constitutional law… Need to quiet that know-it-all uncle? Here are eight common misconceptions where the Constitution doesn’t say what he thinks it does:
- The President can veto a proposed amendment to the Constitution.
No. He has nothing to do with the amendments. Congress can propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote of both houses, or a Constitutional Convention can be called by a vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures. However, once the amendment is proposed either by Congress or a convention, it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
Only one amendment, the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition (the 18th Amendment), was ratified by conventions in the states.
- The “Founding Fathers” who wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 are the same men who wrote the Constitution in 1787.
Only five individuals signed both of these two founding documents. They were George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, George Read, and Roger Sherman. Some of the famous signers of the Declaration were elsewhere when the Constitution was being written. Thomas Jefferson was in France as our American minister, and John Adams was American minister to Great Britain.
- The Constitution established the system of Federal courts.
No. The Constitution established “one supreme Court” and left it to Congress to establish lower courts.
- The Constitution gave the Supreme Court the power to declare laws unconstitutional.
No. The Constitution makes no mention of judicial review, which is common in our legal system now. Judicial review goes back to English common law and was affirmed during the 34-year tenure of Chief Justice John Marshall in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison in 1803. Today, Federal courts at all levels can declare laws unconstitutional, although the Supreme Court has the final word.
- The Constitution sets the number of seats in the House of Representatives at 435.
No. The Constitution gives this power to the Congress, which has increased the number of House members as the nation’s population has increased. The limit of 435 members was set in 1911. It temporarily exceeded that number for a few years when new states were admitted to the Union, but reverted back to 435 after the next reapportionment. The original proposed Bill of Rights included an amendment that would have set a maximum of one representative for every 50,000 persons. Had it been approved, we would have a very large number of House members today. The Constitution did say that each state would have two senators in the Senate, regardless of the state’s population.
- The House must choose one of its own members as Speaker, and the Senate must choose one of its own as President pro-tempore.
No. The Constitution says only that the “House shall chuse their speaker.” The Speaker, third in line to the Presidency, has always been a member of the House. The Constitution also says, “The Senate shall chuse… .a President pro tempore… .” The President pro tempore has always been a senior senator.
- The Constitution says “all men are created equal.”
No. The Declaration of Independence says that. The Constitution skirts the issue of slavery, counting each slave as three-fifths of a person in determining representation in Congress. While this definition offends us today, it was an attempt to limit the power of states with large numbers of enslaved people. Otherwise, the enslaved people, who of course could not vote, would have been used to justify larger numbers of representatives for slave states and give them more power in Congress.
- The Constitution created the United States as a democracy.
No. Someone asked Benjamin Franklin whether the delegates to the Constitutional Convention inside Independence Hall in Philadelphia had created a monarchy or a republic. “A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin replied. The difference: In a democracy, the majority rules, but a republic has a government by the people with checks and balances and a constitution for all to adhere to. Article 4, section 4, states: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
What’s your favorite Constitutional “Myth”?
257 Notes/ Hide
- goldenntits likes this
- congresscenters reblogged this from todaysdocument
- retrogradewaters reblogged this from todaysdocument
- fallopianrhapsody likes this
- edbaugh reblogged this from todaysdocument and added:
- archivistoftimeandspace likes this
- lovemeandmydarkside reblogged this from fairwayfrank
- lyndez likes this
- mangcau reblogged this from fairwayfrank
- fairwayfrank likes this
- fairwayfrank reblogged this from todaysdocument
- doculicious reblogged this from todaysdocument
- catwrap reblogged this from sandunicorn
- whirls likes this
- applebutterbomb likes this
- wintermorning likes this
- crayonpanda likes this
- elprecursor reblogged this from todaysdocument
- sandunicorn reblogged this from todaysdocument
- anosdesoledad reblogged this from magnificent--desolation
- cmoophilosoraptors reblogged this from todaysdocument
- meghandemaria likes this
- shakes24 likes this
- bookcameraknife reblogged this from ceeturnalia
- looking-for-sherlock reblogged this from todaysdocument
- waffyg likes this
- karinanotcinerina likes this
- iglishmek reblogged this from todaysdocument
- driedfrogpills4me reblogged this from todaysdocument
- driedfrogpills4me likes this
- ncnnetwork reblogged this from todaysdocument
- danamyx reblogged this from todaysdocument
- emturner likes this
- hefzibah likes this
- attackoctopus reblogged this from todaysdocument
- bflteens reblogged this from todaysdocument
- beloved-falling reblogged this from vinedragonheartstring
- beloved-falling likes this
- doculicious likes this
- stringsintact likes this
- kelbots likes this
- whoareweinlife likes this
- cbcastro likes this
- afraidiohead reblogged this from todaysdocument
- carmenism reblogged this from todaysdocument
- carmenism likes this
- starry-dreamer likes this
- tjslater likes this
- raakkel reblogged this from cwnerd12