United States Constitution

PREAMBLE : 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



Article 1, Section 2

Text of Article 1, 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.

The 'Travis Translation' of Article 1, Section 2:
Clause 1: Members of the House of Representatives get elected every two years. The people who get to vote are the same people who get to vote for members of the biggest house of the state legislature (in other words, people who are registered to vote).

Clause 2: To get elected to the House, you must be 25 years old, be a citizen of the United States for seven years, and live in the state that elects you.

Clause 3: [Representatives and taxes were originally based on population which did not count slaves and Indians as full people; Section 2 of the 14th Amendment changed how people are counted.]

Representatives in Congress, as well as taxes [this part about taxes was changed by the 16th Amendment], are spread out over the country and are based on the number of people living in the places they represent. People in the country get counted every 10 years in a census so we know how many people are in the country, and so we can figure how many people are represented in the House of Representatives, and so we can figure taxes. A certain number of people (originally 30,000; now over 500,000) have their own representative.

For the first Congress, with no census, the division of Representatives in the House was: New Hampshire, 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.

Clause 4: If a Representative leaves office or dies, the Governor of that State sets up another election.

Clause 5: Representatives get to pick a Speaker and other officers. Only the House of Representatives can vote to start the process for kicking somebody out of office (impeaching them).

The second section of Article I sets up the House of Representatives.

As is still the practice today, the Constitution established that members of the House would all be elected every two years. The size of the House is established by Congress and is, today, set at 435 members. This number had increased decade after decade until it was fixed by a law in the early 20th century. Now, changes in population do not expand or contract the size of the House. Rather, the census, which takes place every ten years, is used to apportion the representatives among the states, using the fixed 435-member figure. Additionally, the Constitution established, among other provisions in Article I, that members of the House needed to be at least 25 years old, that the members of the House could pick their own “Speaker” (the person who presides over the House and is next in line for Presidential succession after the President and Vice-President [today, the Speaker is chosen by whichever party has a majority in the House]), and that the House is responsible for Impeachment.