Although, not officially part of the Constitution, the introduction, or Preamble, explains the purpose of the Constitution and power of the government as originating from the people of the United States emphasized by the first three words, "We the People."
The Constitution is divided into seven articles on different topics. Each article is further divided into sections.
- Article I deals with the legislative branch of government
- Article II concerns the executive branch of government
- Article III establishes the Supreme Court as the highest judicial power in the United States
- Article IV defines the relationship between the states
- Article V describes the procedure for amending the Constitution
- Article VI declares itself, the Constitution, as "the supreme Law of the Land"
- Article VII ratifies the Constitution
There have been twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution:
- The first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, guarantee fundamental rights of individuals, including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, speedy jury trial in criminal cases, right to bear arms, protection against excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment.
- Amendments 11 through 27 address issues relating to lawsuits brought against states, the electoral vote, prohibition of slavery, equal protection, voting rights, creation of the federal income tax, popular election, prohibition (and its repeal), and term limits.