Article VI: Prior Debts, National Supremacy Clause, and Oaths of Office

Article VI of the Constitution allowed the new federal government assumed the financial obligations of the old government, established the “supremacy clause” as the most important guarantor of national union, and required state and federal officials to take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

The following was prepared by the Office of the Secretary of the Senate with the assistance of the Library of Congress, providing the original text of each clause of the Constitution with an accompanying explanation of its meaning and how that meaning has changed over time. Source: U.S. Senate, Library Of Congress

Article VI: Legal Status of the Constitution
Article VI, Section 1, Clause 1:  PRIOR DEBTS
Text Explanation
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation. The new federal government assumed the financial obligations of the old government under the Articles of Confederation.
Article VI, Section 1, Clause 2:  NATIONAL SUPREMACY CLAUSE
Text Explanation
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding. The “supremacy clause” is the most important guarantor of national union.  It assures that the Constitution and federal laws and treaties take precedence over state law and binds all judges to adhere to that principle in their courts.
Article VI, Section 1, Clause 3: OATH OF OFFICE
Text Explanation
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. State and federal officials, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, must take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.  No religious test, either an avowal or a repudiation of any religious belief, shall ever be required of any public officeholder in the United States.

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