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$74. 21 clause. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year; and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
$75. This provision was inserted in order to establish, beyond the possibility of prevention, the annual sessions of Congress; the time of meeting within the year has been fixed, but Congress may change it, and on two or three occasions they have held extra sessions.
$76. SECTION 5TH. 1st clause. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such a manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.
$77. Some number must be fixed to constitute a quorum; it is here fixed at a majority, upon the general principle recognised in all the institutions of the United States, that the majority must govern. If any less number were required to make a quorum, the minority, by acting in the absence of the majority, might govern; and if a larger number were required, the minority might prevent legislation by absenting themselves.
$ 78. The House and Senate regularly appoint committees on elections, which investigate all contested claims to seats, and all doubtful returns, qualifications, &c. The committees report to the House, which makes the ultimate decision. From this decision there is no appeal, and it is obvious there ought not to be, for the power could be no where else lodged so safely.
$ 79. 2d clause. Each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.
$ 80. The rules of proceedings enacted are numerous, and will be considered in another place.
$ 81. The power to punish its members for disorderly behavior” has been frequently exercised. Thus, in 1797, William Blount, a senator from Tennessee, was expelled for <a high misdemeanor, entirely inconsistent with his public trust and duty as a senator.”' His offence was an attempt to seduce an Indian agent from his duty, and alienate the affections of the Indians from the authorities of the United States. The offence was not statutable, nor committed in his official character, nor committed during the session of Congress, nor at the seat of government. Yet he was expelled from the Senate, and afterward impeached.
$ 82. It is, therefore, settled by the Senate, that expulsion may be for any misdemeanor, though not punishable by any statute, which is inconsistent with the trust and duty of a senator.
$ 83. Although there is a power enumerated given to Congress to punish disorderly behavior, yet there is none expressly given to punish contempts. Yet this power, being absolutely necessary to the order and security of the House, has been adjudged, both by Congress and the Supreme Court, to be a necessary incident to the powers of Congress.
§ 84. This power was exercised by the House of Representatives in the case of Robert Randall, in 1795, for an attempt to corrupt a member.
$ 85. The same point was solemnly decided by the Supreme Court in the case of Anderson vs. Dunn.? One Anderson was committed for a contempt of the House, and placed in the custody of the sergeant-at
An action of trespass was brought against the officer, and the case carried to the Supreme Court. That tribunal decided that the House had the power, and that it extended no farther than imprisonment, and continued no longer than the duration of the power that 1 2 Story's Comm. 299.
26 Wheaton, 204.
imprisoned, and consequently terminated with the dissolution of Congress.
$ 86. The same power was exercised in 1800 by the Senate in the case of William Duane, who was found guilty of a printed libel on the Senate, and punished with imprisonment.' So also by the House of Representatives, in the case of Samuel Houston, who assaulted a member for words spoken in debate, and was found guilty of a contempt, and reprimanded.?
$ 87. 3d clause. Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the
nays of the members of either House, on any question, shall, at the desire of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.
$ 88. The yeas and nays, being the means by which the constituents discover the conduct of their
representatives, are often called for and generally granted. No important question is agitated upon which the yeas and nays are not recorded. This provision is very important; for, as the periods of elections are short, the representative is constantly held responsible to the people, and there is no scrutiny which he dreads more than that into his recorded votes.
$ 89. 4th clause. Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitling.
§ 90. By this provision, it is impossible that either House should prevent the progress of business, and each has a complete negative on the other.
$91. SECTION 6TH. 1st clause. The Senators and 1 Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases,
1 Journal of the Senate, March 1800.
except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to or returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
$ 92. The compensation allowed by Congress for their own service was, and is now, a per diem allowance, with mileage for the distance traveled, going and returning. Congress, several years since, enacted that each member should receive a fixed compensation; thus, in fact, making themselves salary officers. This was received by the people with so much censure and condemnation, that the next Congress was obliged to repeal the
§ 93. The privilege from arrest during attendance upon legislative business, is derived from the Saxon institutions. It was the privilege of the members of the Saxon Wittenagemot, or assembly of wise men, and thence has descended through all the systems of English and American Law.
§ 94. The effect of this privilege is, that the arrest of a member is unlawful, and a trespass for which he may maintain his action. He may also be discharged upon a writ of Habeas Corpus,' and the arrest may be punished as a contempt of the House.
$95. In going to and returning from Congress, ample time is allowed, and a little deviation does not take away the privilege.
$ 96. The privilege from arrest takes place by force of the election, and before the member has taken his seat, or is sworn.
$97. This privilege does not extend to felony, treason, or breach of the peace; and the terms breach of the peace being general, have been decided to extend to all indictable offences, as well as those which are only constructive breaches of the peace."
11 Hume, 155. 22 Wilson's Rep. 151. 3 Blackst. Comm. 166.
$98. The privilege of speech and debate does not extend beyond the limits of legislative or parliamentary duty. Thus, for a speech merely delivered in the House, a member cannot be questioned; yet, if he publish the speech, and it contain a libel, he is liable to an action for it, as in any other case.'
§ 99. 2d clause. No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased, during such time, and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.
$ 100. The first part of this clause was inserted as a safeguard against venality; yet were there really any danger from such a source of corruption, it would not seem to be prevented by this provision, for it extends only during such time,”—the time for which he was elected, which is so short as to leave the full force of promised reward beyond it.
$ 101. The second provision, which prevents officeholders from holding a seat in Congress, is very
unlike the Constitution of the British Parliament, by which any member of the ministry may hold a seat in the House of Commons. By this means there is certainly a degree of responsibility on the part of the ministry, which is unfelt by the executive officers of our government, who communicate with congress only through the details of a report, or the columns of a newspaper. The provision was inserted, however, for the purpose of preventing an undue influence of the government upon the action of Congress.
§ 102. SECTION 7TH. Clause 1st. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representa
11 Maule and Selwyn's Rep. 273.