Tag Archives: US vs USA

Hierarchical Governance

Subsection (c) of Rule 101 (“Title and Scope”) of the Texas Rules of Evidence reads as follows:

“(c)   Hierarchical Governance in Criminal Proceedings. –Hierarchical governance shall be in the following order: the Constitution of the United States, those federal statutes that control states under the supremacy clause, the Constitution of Texas, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Penal Code, civil statutes, these rules, and the common law. Where possible, inconsistency is to be removed by reasonable construction.”

If you’ve read “The Organic Law of The United States of America” you know that this “Organic Law” includes four documents:

1)  The Declaration of Independence (A.D. 1776);

2) Articles of Confederation (A.D. 1781) which are the constitution of The United States of America;

3) Northwest Ordinance (A.D. 1787); and,

4) Constitution of the United States (first ratified and made effective by the People in A.D. 1788).

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Philadelphia - Old City: Independence Hall - T...

Philadelphia – Old City: Independence Hall – The Signing of the Constitution in A.D. 1787. But did the “Singning” constitute Ratification?  (Photo credit: wallyg)

A couple of friends sent an email to me concerning the meanings of “United States,” “United States of America” and “The United States of America”.  I replied as follows:

It seems to me that the Founders were incredibly casual with their use of the terms “United States” and “The United States of America”.  They routinely used the term “the United States of America” (in the Preamble, for example) to almost certainly mean “The United States of America”.  That allowed later generations of villains to define “United States of America” in a way that’s other than “The United States of America”.  They left us an almost astonishing burden of ambiguity and confusion.  In retrospect, their failure to precisely define what “United States” and “the United States of America” meant is equivalent to an Achilles Heel that opened the door to great treason in this country.  They assumed the meanings of those terms were obvious and would remain obvious to their descendants.  They were mistaken.

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The United States of America vs the United States

The Articles of Confederation, ratified in 178...

Image via Wikipedia

I received a comment elsewhere on this blog that asked for an analysis of the difference between “The United States of America” and “United States”.  I replied as follows:

As I understand it, the word “constitution” signifies a document that originally creates, incorporates or “constitutes” some new entity.  We say “The Constitution of the United States,” but the same text might just as easily have been entitled “The Charter of the United States” or “The Incorporation Papers of the United States”.  As I understand it, the instrument entitled “The Constitution of the United States” is the document that “constituted” the entity named “United States”.

Note that even though a document that performs the function of  “constituting” or creating a new entity, that document need not be expressly named “The Constitution of [That Entity]”.  It could have an name that never used the word “constitution” but still performed the function of “constituting” a new entity.

We’re all familiar with the federal “Constitution”.  There’s a problem with that document.  The author’s never attached an explicit title at the top of that document and so there’s some confusion about its proper name.  Some think that document is properly named “The Constitution of the United States”.  Some say, “The Constitution of The United States of America.”  Others say, “The Constitution for the United States of America”.

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