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Article Three of the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nat ...
establishes the judicial branch of the U.S. federal government. Under Article Three, the judicial branch consists of the
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point ...
, as well as lower courts created by
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the Representative democracy, representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political party, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle Eng ...
. Article Three empowers the courts to handle cases or controversies arising under federal law, as well as other enumerated areas. Article Three also defines
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
. Section 1 of Article Three vests the judicial power of the United States in the Supreme Court, as well as inferior courts established by Congress. Along with the
Vesting Clauses In United States constitutional law, the Vesting Clauses are three provisions in the United States Constitution which vest the United States' legislative power in the United States Congress, the executive power in the President of the United States, ...
of Article One and Article Two, Article Three's Vesting Clause establishes the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
between the three branches of government. Section 1 authorizes the creation of inferior courts, but does not require it; the first inferior federal courts were established shortly after the ratification of the Constitution with the
Judiciary Act of 1789 The Judiciary Act of 1789 (ch. 20, ) was a United States federal statute enacted on September 24, 1789, during the first session of the First United States Congress. It established the federal judiciary of the United States. Article Three of the ...
. Section 1 also establishes that federal judges do not face term limits, and that an individual judge's salary may not be decreased. Article Three does not set the size of the Supreme Court or establish specific positions on the court, but Article One establishes the position of chief justice. Section 2 of Article Three delineates federal judicial power. The Case or Controversy Clause restricts the judiciary's power to actual cases and controversies, meaning that federal judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are proscribed due to standing,
mootness The terms moot and mootness are used in both in English law, English and American law, although with different meanings. In the Law of the United States, legal system of the United States, a matter is moot if further legal proceedings with r ...
, or ripeness issues. Section 2 states that federal judiciary's power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, federal laws, federal treaties, controversies involving multiple states or foreign powers, and other enumerated areas. Section 2 gives the Supreme Court
original jurisdiction In common law (legal system), common law legal systems original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a higher court has the power to review a lower court's decision. ...
when ambassadors, public officials, or the states are a party in the case, leaving the Supreme Court with
appellate jurisdiction A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much of t ...
in all other areas to which the federal judiciary's jurisdiction extends. Section 2 also gives Congress the power to strip the Supreme Court of appellate jurisdiction, and establishes that all federal crimes must be tried before a
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (jurors) convened to hear evidence and render an impartiality, impartial verdict (a Question of fact, finding of fact on a question) officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a sentence (law), penalty o ...
. Section 2 does not expressly grant the federal judiciary the power of
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
, but the courts have exercised this power since the 1803 case of '' Marbury v. Madison''. Section 3 of Article Three defines treason and empowers Congress to punish treason. Section 3 requires that at least two witnesses testify to the treasonous act, or that the individual accused of treason confess in open court. It also limits the ways in which Congress can punish those convicted of treason.


Background

Unlike the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 Colonies of the United States, United States of America that served as its first Constitution, frame of government. It was approved after much debate (between July ...
, the US Constitution separated the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Article III separates and places the judicial power in the judiciary. This idea is most often attributed to
Montesquieu Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, Lot-et-Garonne, Montesquieu (; ; 18 January 168910 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, intellectual, man of letters, historian, and p ...
. Although not the progenitor, Montesquieu's writing on the separation of power in ''
The Spirit of Laws ''The Spirit of Law'' (French: ''De l'esprit des lois'', originally spelled ''De l'esprit des loix''), also known in English as ''The Spirit of the Laws'', is a treatise on political theory, as well as a pioneering work in comparative law, publis ...
'' was immensely influential on the U.S. Constitution.


Section 1: Federal courts

Section 1 is one of the three
vesting clauses In United States constitutional law, the Vesting Clauses are three provisions in the United States Constitution which vest the United States' legislative power in the United States Congress, the executive power in the President of the United States, ...
of the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nat ...
, which vests the judicial power of the United States in federal courts, requires the supreme court, allows inferior courts, requires good behavior tenure for judges, and prohibits decreasing the salaries of judges.


Clause 1: Vesting of judicial power and number of courts

Article III authorizes one Supreme Court, but does not set the number of justices that must be appointed to it. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 refers to a ''Chief Justice'' (who shall preside over the
impeachment trial An impeachment trial is a trial that functions as a component of an impeachment. Several governments utilize impeachment trials as a part of their processes for impeachment, but differ as to when in the impeachment process trials take place and how ...
of the
President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United St ...
). Since 1869 the number of justices has been fixed at nine (by the
Judiciary Act of 1869 The Judiciary Act of 1869 (41st Congress, Sess. 1, ch. 22, , enacted April 10, 1869), formally An Act to amend the Judicial System of the United States and sometimes called the Circuit Judges Act of 1869, provided that the Supreme Court of the Unite ...
): one chief justice, and eight associate justices. Proposals have been made at various times for organizing the Supreme Court into separate panels; none garnered wide support, thus the
constitutionality Constitutionality is said to be the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution; "Webster On Line" the status of a law, a procedure, or an act's accordance with the laws or set forth in the applicable constitution. When l ...
of such a division is unknown. In a 1937 letter (to Senator Burton Wheeler during the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill debate), Chief Justice
Charles Evans Hughes Charles Evans Hughes Sr. (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was an American statesman, politician and jurist who served as the 11th Chief Justice of the United States from 1930 to 1941. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republi ...
wrote, "the Constitution does not appear to authorize two or more Supreme Courts functioning in effect as separate courts." The Supreme Court is the only federal court that is explicitly established by the Constitution. During the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made for the Supreme Court to be the only federal court, having both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction. This proposal was rejected in favor of the provision that exists today. The Supreme Court has interpreted this provision as enabling Congress to create inferior (i.e., lower) courts under both Article III, Section 1, and Article I, Section 8. The Article III courts, which are also known as "constitutional courts", were first created by the
Judiciary Act of 1789 The Judiciary Act of 1789 (ch. 20, ) was a United States federal statute enacted on September 24, 1789, during the first session of the First United States Congress. It established the federal judiciary of the United States. Article Three of the ...
, and are the only courts with judicial power. Article I courts, which are also known as "legislative courts", consist of regulatory agencies, such as the United States Tax Court. In certain types of cases, Article III courts may exercise appellate jurisdiction over Article I courts. In '' Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co.'' (), the Court held that "there are legal matters, involving public rights, which may be presented in such form that the judicial power is capable of acting on them," and which are susceptible to review by an Article III court. Later, in ''Ex parte Bakelite Corp.'' (), the Court declared that Article I courts "may be created as special tribunals to examine and determine various matters, arising between the government and others, which from their nature do not require judicial determination and yet are susceptible of it." Other cases, such as bankruptcy cases, have been held not to involve judicial determination, and may therefore go before Article I courts. Similarly, several courts in the District of Columbia, which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, are Article I courts rather than Article III courts. This article was expressly extended to the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through Federal Law 89-571, 80 Stat. 764, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. This transformed the article IV
United States territorial court The United States territorial courts are tribunals established in territories of the United States Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the federal government of the United States. ...
in
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico), is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...
, created in 1900, to an Article III federal judicial district court. The
Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, frequently called the "court-packing plan",Epstein, at 451. was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court in order ...
, frequently called the court-packing plan,Epstein, Lee; Walker, Thomas G. (2007). Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. ., at 451. was a legislative initiative to add more justices to the Supreme Court proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after his victory in the 1936 presidential election. Although the bill aimed generally to overhaul and modernize the entire federal court system, its central and most controversial provision would have granted the President power to appoint an additional justice to the Supreme Court for every
incumbent The incumbent is the current holder of an official, office or position, usually in relation to an election. In an election for president, the incumbent is the person holding or acting in the office of president before the election, whether seek ...
justice over the age of 70, up to a maximum of six. The Constitution is silent when it comes to judges of courts which have been abolished. The
Judiciary Act of 1801 The Midnight Judges Act (also known as the Judiciary Act of 1801; , and officially An act to provide for the more convenient organization of the Courts of the United States) represented an effort to solve an issue in the Supreme Court of the United ...
increased the number of courts to permit Federalist President
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Befor ...
to appoint a number of Federalist judges before
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 18 ...
took office. When Jefferson became President, the Congress abolished several of these courts and made no provision for the judges of those courts. The Judicial Code of 1911 abolished circuit riding and transferred the circuit courts authority and jurisdiction to the district courts.


Clause 2: Tenure

The Constitution provides that judges "shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour." The term "good behaviour" is interpreted to mean that judges may serve for the remainder of their lives, although they may resign or retire voluntarily. A judge may also be removed by impeachment and conviction by congressional vote (hence the term good behaviour); this has occurred fourteen times. Three other judges, Mark W. Delahay, George W. English, and Samuel B. Kent, chose to resign rather than go through the impeachment process.


Clause 3: Salaries

The compensation of judges may not be decreased, but may be increased, during their continuance in office.


Section 2: Judicial power, jurisdiction, and trial by jury

Section 2 delineates federal judicial power, and brings that power into execution by conferring
original jurisdiction In common law (legal system), common law legal systems original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a higher court has the power to review a lower court's decision. ...
and also
appellate jurisdiction A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much of t ...
upon the Supreme Court. Additionally, this section requires
trial by jury A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a legal proceeding in which a jury makes a decision or findings of fact. It is distinguished from a bench trial in which a judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceed ...
in all criminal cases, except
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official for misconduct. It may be understood as a unique process involving both political Politics (from , ...
cases.


Clause 1: Cases and controversies

Clause 1 of Section 2 authorizes the federal courts to hear actual cases and controversies only. Their judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are proscribed due to standing,
mootness The terms moot and mootness are used in both in English law, English and American law, although with different meanings. In the Law of the United States, legal system of the United States, a matter is moot if further legal proceedings with r ...
, or ripeness issues. Generally, a case or controversy requires the presence of adverse parties who have a genuine interest at stake in the case. In '' Muskrat v. United States'', , the Supreme Court denied jurisdiction to cases brought under a statute permitting certain Native Americans to bring suit against the United States to determine the constitutionality of a law allocating tribal lands. Counsel for both sides were to be paid from the federal Treasury. The Supreme Court held that, though the United States was a defendant, the case in question was not an actual controversy; rather, the statute was merely devised to test the constitutionality of a certain type of legislation. Thus the Court's ruling would be nothing more than an advisory opinion; therefore, the court dismissed the suit for failing to present a "case or controversy." A significant omission is that although Clause 1 provides that federal judicial power shall extend to "the laws of the United States," it does not also provide that it shall extend to the laws of the ''several'' or individual states. In turn, the
Judiciary Act of 1789 The Judiciary Act of 1789 (ch. 20, ) was a United States federal statute enacted on September 24, 1789, during the first session of the First United States Congress. It established the federal judiciary of the United States. Article Three of the ...
and subsequent acts never granted the U.S. Supreme Court the power to review decisions of state supreme courts on pure issues of state law. It is this silence which tacitly made state supreme courts the final expositors of the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
in their respective states. They were free to diverge from English precedents and from each other on the vast majority of legal issues which had never been made part of federal law by the Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court could do nothing, as it would ultimately concede in '' Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins'' (1938). By way of contrast, other English-speaking federations like
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
and
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...
never adopted the ''Erie'' doctrine. That is, their highest courts have always possessed plenary power to impose a uniform nationwide common law upon all lower courts and never adopted the strong American distinction between federal and state common law.


Eleventh Amendment and state sovereign immunity

In '' Chisholm v. Georgia'', , the Supreme Court ruled that Article III, Section 2 abrogated the States'
sovereign immunity Sovereign immunity, or crown immunity, is a legal doctrine whereby a monarch, sovereign or State (polity), state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from lawsuit, civil suit or criminal law, criminal prosecution, strictly speaking in mode ...
and authorized federal courts to hear disputes between private citizens and States. This decision was overturned by the Eleventh Amendment, which was passed by the
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the Representative democracy, representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political party, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle Eng ...
on March 4, 1794 and ratified by the states on February 7, 1795. It prohibits the federal courts from hearing "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".


Clause 2: Original and appellate jurisdiction

Clause 2 of Section 2 provides that the Supreme Court has
original jurisdiction In common law (legal system), common law legal systems original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a higher court has the power to review a lower court's decision. ...
in cases affecting ambassadors, ministers and consuls, and also in those controversies which are subject to federal judicial power because at least one state is a party; the Court has held that the latter requirement is met if the United States has a controversy with a state.''United States v. Texas''
143 U.S. 621
(1892). A factor in ''United States v. Texas'' was that there had been an "act of congress requiring the institution of this suit". With a few narrow exceptions, courts have held that Congress controls access to the courts by the United States and its agencies and officials. See, e.g., ''Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.'', 514 U.S. 122 ("Agencies do not automatically have standing to sue for actions that frustrate the purposes of their statutes"). Also see ''United States v. Mattson''
600 F. 2d 1295
(9th Cir. 1979).
In other cases, the Supreme Court has only
appellate jurisdiction A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much of t ...
, which may be regulated by the Congress. The Congress may not, however, amend the Court's original jurisdiction, as was found in '' Marbury v. Madison'', (the same decision which established the principle of
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
). ''Marbury'' held that Congress can neither expand nor restrict the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. However, the appellate jurisdiction of the Court is different. The Court's appellate jurisdiction is given "with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make." Often a court will assert a modest degree of power over a case for the threshold purpose of determining whether it has jurisdiction, and so the word "power" is not necessarily synonymous with the word "jurisdiction".


Judicial review

The power of the federal judiciary to review the
constitutionality Constitutionality is said to be the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution; "Webster On Line" the status of a law, a procedure, or an act's accordance with the laws or set forth in the applicable constitution. When l ...
of a
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare Public p ...
or
treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually made by and between sovereign states, but can include international organizations, individuals, business entities, and other legal ...
, or to review an administrative regulation for consistency with either a statute, a treaty, or the Constitution itself, is an implied power derived in part from Clause 2 of Section 2. Though the Constitution does not expressly provide that the federal judiciary has the power of judicial review, many of the Constitution's Framers viewed such a power as an appropriate power for the federal judiciary to possess. In ''Federalist No. 78'',
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first United States secretary of the treasury from 1789 to ...
wrote, Hamilton goes on to counterbalance the tone of "judicial supremacists," those demanding that both Congress and the Executive are compelled by the Constitution to enforce all court decisions, including those that, in their eyes, or those of the People, violate fundamental American principles: '' Marbury v. Madison'' involved a highly partisan set of circumstances. Though Congressional elections were held in November 1800, the newly elected officers did not take power until March. The
Federalist Party The Federalist Party was a Conservatism in the United States, conservative political party which was the first political party in the United States. As such, under Alexander Hamilton, it dominated the national government from 1789 to 1801. De ...
had lost the elections. In the words of President
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 18 ...
, the Federalists "retired into the judiciary as a stronghold". In the four months following the elections, the outgoing Congress created several new judgeships, which were filled by President
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Befor ...
. In the last-minute rush, however, Federalist Secretary of State
John Marshall John Marshall (September 24, 1755July 6, 1835) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the fourth chief justice of the United States, Chief Justice of the United States from 1801 until his death in 1835. He remains the List of Justi ...
had neglected to deliver 17 of the commissions to their respective appointees. When
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father. He served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Madison is hailed as ...
took office as Secretary of State, several commissions remained undelivered. Bringing their claims under the
Judiciary Act of 1789 The Judiciary Act of 1789 (ch. 20, ) was a United States federal statute enacted on September 24, 1789, during the first session of the First United States Congress. It established the federal judiciary of the United States. Article Three of the ...
, the appointees, including William Marbury, petitioned the Supreme Court for the issue of a
writ of mandamus (; ) is a judicial remedy in the form of an order from a court to any government, subordinate court, corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to a ...
, which in English law had been used to force public officials to fulfill their ministerial duties. Here, Madison would be required to deliver the commissions. ''Marbury'' posed a difficult problem for the court, which was then led by Chief Justice John Marshall, the same person who had neglected to deliver the commissions when he was the Secretary of State. If Marshall's court commanded James Madison to deliver the commissions, Madison might ignore the order, thereby indicating the weakness of the court. Similarly, if the court denied William Marbury's request, the court would be seen as weak. Marshall held that appointee Marbury was indeed entitled to his commission. However, Justice Marshall contended that the
Judiciary Act of 1789 The Judiciary Act of 1789 (ch. 20, ) was a United States federal statute enacted on September 24, 1789, during the first session of the First United States Congress. It established the federal judiciary of the United States. Article Three of the ...
was unconstitutional, since it purported to grant original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in cases not involving the States or
ambassador An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sov ...
s. The ruling thereby established that the federal courts could exercise judicial review over the actions of Congress or the executive branch. However, Alexander Hamilton, in ''Federalist No. 78'', expressed the view that the Courts hold only the power of words, and not the power of compulsion upon those other two branches of government, upon which the Supreme Court is itself dependent. Then in 1820,
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 18 ...
expressed his deep reservations about the doctrine of judicial review:


Clause 3: Federal trials

Clause 3 of Section 2 provides that Federal crimes, except
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official for misconduct. It may be understood as a unique process involving both political Politics (from , ...
cases, must be tried before a jury, unless the defendant waives their right. Also, the trial must be held in the state where the crime was committed. If the crime was not committed in any particular state, then the trial is held in such a place as set forth by the Congress. The United States Senate has the sole power to try impeachment cases. Two of the Constitutional Amendments that comprise the
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against Civil and political rights, infringement fr ...
contain related provisions. The Sixth Amendment enumerates the rights of individuals when facing criminal prosecution and the Seventh Amendment establishes an individual's right to a
jury trial A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a legal proceeding in which a jury makes a decision or findings of fact. It is distinguished from a bench trial in which a judge or panel of judges makes all decisions. Jury trials are used in a signifi ...
in certain civil cases. It also inhibits courts from overturning a jury's findings of fact. The Supreme Court has extended the right to a jury in the Sixth Amendment to individuals facing trial in state courts through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but has refused to do so with the Seventh.


Section 3: Treason

Section 3 defines
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
and limits its punishment. The Constitution defines treason as specific acts, namely "levying War against he United States or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." A contrast is therefore maintained with the English law, whereby crimes including conspiring to kill the King or "violating" the Queen, were punishable as treason. In '' Ex Parte Bollman'', , the Supreme Court ruled that "there must be an actual assembling of men, for the treasonable purpose, to constitute a levying of war." Under English law effective during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, there were several species of treason. Of these, the Constitution adopted only two: levying war and adhering to enemies. Omitted were species of treason involving encompassing (or imagining) the death of the king, certain types of counterfeiting, and finally fornication with women in the royal family of the sort which could call into question the parentage of royal successors. James Wilson wrote the original draft of this section, and he was involved as a defense attorney for some accused of treason against the Patriot cause. The two forms of treason adopted were both derived from the English Treason Act 1351.
Joseph Story Joseph Story (September 18, 1779 – September 10, 1845) was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from 1812 to 1845. He is most remembered for his opinions in ''Martin v. Hunter's Lessee'' and ''United States ...
wrote in his ''
Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States ''Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States'' is a three-volume work written by Associate Justice Associate justice or associate judge (or simply associate) is a judicial panel member who is not the Chief Justice, chief justice in ...
'' of the authors of the Constitution that: In ''Federalist'' No. 43
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father. He served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Madison is hailed as ...
wrote regarding the Treason Clause: Based on the above quotation, it was noted by the lawyer William J. Olson in an ''
amicus curiae An ''amicus curiae'' (; ) is an individual or organization who is not a Party (law), party to a legal case, but who is permitted to assist a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case. The ...
'' in the case '' Hedges v. Obama'' that the Treason Clause was one of the
enumerated powers The enumerated powers (also called expressed powers, explicit powers or delegated powers) of the United States Congress are the powers granted to the federal government of the United States by the Constitution of the United States, United States Co ...
of the federal government. He also stated that by defining treason in the U.S. Constitution and placing it in Article III " the founders intended the power to be checked by the judiciary, ruling out trials by military commissions. As James Madison noted, the Treason Clause also was designed to limit the power of the federal government to punish its citizens for 'adhering to heenemies
f the United States by F, or f, is the sixth letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet), a character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech; any of the symbols of an alphabet. * Letterform, the gr ...
giving them aid and comfort.'" Section 3 also requires the testimony of two different witnesses on the same overt act, or a confession by the accused in open court, to convict for treason. This rule was derived from another English statute, the Treason Act 1695. The English law did not require both witnesses to have witnessed the same overt act; this requirement, supported by
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was an American polymath who was active as a writer, scientist, Invention, inventor, Statesman (politician), statesman, diplomat, printer (publishing), printer, publisher, and Political philosophy, politi ...
, was added to the draft Constitution by a vote of 8 states to 3. In '' Cramer v. United States'', , the Supreme Court ruled that " ery act, movement, deed, and word of the defendant charged to constitute treason must be supported by the testimony of two witnesses."''Cramer'', at 34 In '' Haupt v. United States'', , however, the Supreme Court found that two witnesses are not required to prove intent, nor are two witnesses required to prove that an overt act is treasonable. The two witnesses, according to the decision, are required to prove only that the overt act occurred ( eyewitnesses and federal agents investigating the crime, for example). Punishment for treason may not "work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person" so convicted. The descendants of someone convicted for treason could not, as they were under English law, be considered "tainted" by the treason of their ancestor.


See also

* United States constitutional criminal procedure * List of current United States Circuit Judges


References


Bibliography

*


External links


CRS Annotated Constitution: Article 3
law.cornell.edu {{USArticleIII 3 Federal judiciary of the United States