Posted in American History, Politics

The Constitution: Article Three

So in review, Article 1 deals with congress, Article 2 with the President/Executive Branch and now we deal with the third branch of the American Government: The Judicial Branch.  This is probably one of the shortest of the articles, but there are several amendments that deal with the Judicial branch.

Section One

This section basically establishes that a Supreme Court and lesser courts shall exist and that Congress can generate more lower courts if the need arise.  Also that those working shall not get their pay cut during their time in service.  They also can not be removed during their term unless Congress has evidence of bad behavior  (once again, we return to Impeachment).

Section Two

After establishing that a court system could exist within the government, they then proceed to flesh out what the courts could see as far as cases.  Section 2 states that judicial power extends to all cases that arise in relation to US laws, the constitution and treaties made by the US.  In some cases, they can also review cases that relation to US foreign affairs and Maritime jurisdiction.

There was debate on what was the limits of Federal and State rights in regard to judicial cases.  For example, prior to the addition of the Eleventh amendment, it was greatly debated on whether citizens of other states and foreigners could sue states.  The amendment made it so that any case where the person suing the state was not a actual citizen of that state could not sue it.  People still debate if section two allows for a person to sue their own state, but courts still take the cases.

Cases involving public officials, or states are under Supreme Court jurisdiction.  Other cases can be passed down to appellate courts for review unless

This section ends with establishing that all crime trials shall be by jury and be held in the state that the crime occurred unless it has occurred in multiple states in which case Congress may decide where to have the trial.

Section Three

Section three is about Treason.  According to the constitution Treason against the US consists of either levying war against them or offering aid to their enemies.  To be convicted, it is required that there be two witnesses to the same act, or a confession by the person being tried.

I had to look up what “Corruption of Blood” meant, as I had never heard of it before.  Corruption of Blood is a influence of English criminal law.  It is a process by which someone convicted of a crime is no longer allowed to inherit titles, lands or other inheritance.  It also disallows for someone who is convicted of a crime to pass on their inheritance to their own heirs because crimes such as Treason and death penalty offenses were considered tainting the blood.  The US constitution only allows for the forfeiture of the person convicted of the crime.  So if Person A committed Treason, he forfeits any property that he owns and inheritances he might receive.  However, if Person A’s parent had property that could be inherited, Person A’s child could still inherit, or any other family member unless they two are convicted of Treason or a felony that merits forfeiture.

This clause to the second Article has actually come up in recent times.  In 2013, Senator Tom Cotton proposed a bill that would punish relatives of those who violated US sanctions against Iran.  One of the arguments made against it is that it violated the clause where you couldn’t punish family members unless they themselves were convicted of a crime.  He eventually withdrew the provision.

Further Reading:

National Constitution Center: Article Three

Legal Dictionary  Corruption of Blood 

Justia – Corruption of Blood & Forfeiture 

Huffington Post – Tom Cotton “Corruption of Blood” Provision May 23,2013

Constitution.Org – Joseph Story commentary on the Constitution




A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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