January 17, 2018
Week One Written Assignment: Examining the US Constitution and the Illinois State Constitution
The U.S Constitution and the Illinois State Constitution both came into existence around similar times where the creators of both thought they were needed to bring order, regulation and a final word of peace. They both have the same reason a purpose for being brought to attention of the public and government: it created a national government that consisted of a legislative, an executive and a judicial branch, along with checks and balances and divided power of the federal and national government. The U.S Constitution came into force on September 17, 1787 and has been amended twenty-seven times. It served a purpose of the established Bill if Rights, established federal government and established governmental and fundamental laws, to only name a few of its important purposes. The Illinois Constitution was created in a similar form but it was re-created four different times in history. Four of the constitutions reflect the changing patterns of Illinois from a frontier state, to an agricultural and railroad center, to a manufacturing center. The Constitution of Illinois was always conforming to the modern needs of the people and the change of times.
While the Constitutions of both the U.S and Illinois were extremely similar in form and purpose, they each had standards upheld by the people to conform to. Starting with the Executive branches of both entities, the U.S Executive Branch Chief Executive was the President of the U.S for obvious reasons, while the Chief Executive for Illinois was the Governor of the state. The President could only serve two terms which equaled eight years total and the minimum age was thirty-five. The Governor appointed over Illinois had no limit on the amount of terms that could be served and the minimum age was twenty-five. Next, the Judicial Branch was operated differently between the two governments were very different. The U.S selection process was President appointed while the selection process for Illinois Judicial Branch was appointing an official by the election of voters. Finally, the Legislative Branch between the two constitutions only has one major difference that impacts the making of legislative decisions. The main body of the Federal Legislative Branch is made up of the four hundred thirty-five Congress members while the main body of the Illinois State Legislative Branch in the General Assembly. The General Assembly is composed of fifty-nine senates. The differences between the two constitutions mainly rests in the numbers and the processes for selecting members for each branch.
The qualifications for the office and the various offices vary greatly upon the U.S and Illinois Constitutions because of how they came to be, although the U.S Constitution had to be amended over twenty-five times and the Illinois Constitution was rewritten four times since the 1800’s. The qualifications for the U.S Constitution has been about the same since it was composed and brought together, although the processes may have been change somewhat. Beginning with the U.S requirements for being a representative, the Constitution basically states that “the Constitution requires that Members of the House be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent (though not necessarily the same district)”( History, Art & Archives). Originally, the age requirement to become a representative was twenty-one, but the minimum requirement was raised to twenty-five because a simply put statement by George Mason “that there should be a period between being free to manage one’s own affairs and managing the ‘affairs of a great nation'” ( History, Art & Archives). The age requirement for the President is a minimum of thirty-five. The qualifying requirement for being a citizen wasn’t always the way it is stated now, but instead the British prevented anyone born outside of the country from being a representative, should that be an issue. Now, it’s a written condition to be a citizen of seven years. Lastly, the demand to live in the same state that one might run for is stated in the requirement to be a representative as well. Then, it wasn’t done in practice and it rarely happened that the same person running was from that same state they would be running for. Now, it is seen as good practice to reside in the same state to be ran for because it is believed that the representative running will be more familiar with the interests of the residents.
The Illinois Constitution eligibility requirements are less than that of the U.S Constitution requirements, but the differences mainly lie with the qualifications of being a senate or representative. In the Illinois Constitution the eligibility states that “to be eligible to hold the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller or Treasurer, a person must be a United States citizen, at least 25 years old, and a resident of this State for the three years preceding his election” (Illinois Constitution). As that is simply put, the conditions for the position of a representative are no different than the U.S Constitution besides that there is no requirement for a minimum time to be citizen. I suspect that it is not a firm requirement because the United States requires that any official government position be filled by someone holds the status of a U.S citizen.
The responsibilities of Congress between the U.S and Illinois are stated differently in the individual Constitutions as far as handling financial business, militia, and punishments. In a short summary, the U.S Congress has the responsibilities of regulating monetary businesses such as taxes, borrowing money, of punishments of counterfeiting currency. In addition to their responsibilities, they maintain the existence and support of the Naval and Army, and establish post offices. There are many other duties they fulfil but these sum up about what they do.
The Illinois Constitution states individual duties and responsibilities for the General Assembly. Much like Congress, there are more specialized and individualized conditions of which the General Assembly must adhere by. The Lieutenant Governor must perform the duties and exercise powers in the Executive branch delegated by the Governor or either prescribed by law. The Attorney General is the legal officer of the State and maintains the duties that had been prescribed by law. The Secretary of State has the responsibilities to maintain the records of the Executive Branch and those records must remain public for potential inspection. The Secretary of State must also keep the Great Seal of the State of Illinois. The Comptroller and the Treasurer have a similar build of responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with each other. The Comptroller maintains the State’s central fiscal accounts and order payments in and out of the funds held by the Treasurer. The Treasurer is responsible of the safekeeping and investments of money and security deposits as well as the disbursement upon order of the Comptroller. All of the General Assembly have very particular jobs and responsibilities to fulfil that are like the Congress. The Illinois Constitution is minimized compared to the U.S Constitution, which requires more members and individualized duties.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “Constitutional Qualifications,” http://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Constitutional-Qualifications/ (January 20, 2018)
Illinois. Constitution Of the State of Illinois. Springfield, Ill. :Secretary of State, 1914. Web.
Kopecky, Frank, and Mary Sherman Harris. “UNDERSTANDING THE ILLINOIS CONSTITUTION.” Illinois State Bar Association, 2010, pp. 1–70., www.isba.org/sites/default/files/teachers/publications/constbook.pdf.
“Illinois Constitution.” Illinois Constitution, 15 Dec. 1970, faculty.ccc.edu/igawronska/constitution/ILConst/ILConst.htm.