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Home > History > Article 3 - United States Constitution Interactive

Article 3 - United States Constitution Interactive

This page provides the text and interpreted text of Article 3 of the United States Constitution. It is part of our interactive Constitution.


What does it say?

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.

What does it mean?

Article III, Section 1 of the United States Constitution declares the Supreme Court of the United States the top court in the country. Section 1 confirms that justices appointed to the Supreme Court have their positions for life unless they are impeached or convicted of a crime. They cannot be dismissed by the President who appointed them or by any other President during their lifetime.

Finally, the financial compensation given to Supreme Court justices cannot be reduced at any time during their service. Otherwise, the reduction of salary could force a judge to resign.


What does it say?

1.) 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.

2.) 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.

3.) 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.

What does it mean?

1.) This clause defines the jurisdiction of Federal courts. Today, Federal courts handle: cases arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties, cases involving ambassadors, cases in which the United States is a party, cases between two or more states, cases between citizens of different states, cases between citizens of the same state claiming land under the grants of different states, and cases between a state or citizens of a state and a foreign state or citizens of a foreign state.

2.) Clause 2 declares that the Supreme Court has "original jurisdiction," over cases involving ambassadors and cases in which one state is a party. These types of cases go directly to the Supreme Court, rather than originating in lower courts.

3.) Clause 3 declares the trial of all crimes must be trial by jury, except in the case of impeachment. In addition, the trial of crimes must be held in the state in which the crime took place.


What does it say?

1.) 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.

2.) 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.

What does it mean?

1.) This clause states that no individual can be convicted of treason against the United States unless he or she confesses in court, or, unless two witnesses testify in court that he or she has committed such an act.

2.) This clause essentially means that family members of an individual convicted of treason do not share guilt.



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