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§ 1. It is indispensable that the Constitution specify tno ouinber necessary to do business ; otherwise a reckless and intriguing minori ty might take advantage of the absence of the majority, and usurp the functions of legislation by enacting repugnant and odious laws, or by repealing those most acceptable to the people.
§ 2. On the contrary, if a smaller number could not adjourn from day to day, or compel the attendance of absent members, the whole business of legislation might be suspended at the pleasure of a few refractory absentees. The necessity of these three provisions in reference to business, therefore, must be evident at a glance.
ART. III.- JOURNAL.
1. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings. 2. They shall publish the same from time to time, except such
parts as in their judgment shall require secrecy. 19. $ 1. These provisions impose a salutary restraint upon the members of the two houses. In a certain sense, they bring representative and constituent face to face. What is done to-day in the legislative halls of the nation is transferred to-morrow to the columns of the press, and carried abroad in the mail-bags all over the land. We know to-morrow what our senator or representative has done to-day. Legislators are thus compelled to act under a high sense of their political responsibility.
§ 2. But there are proceedings, or may be, in every legislative body, especially in times of insurrection or invasion, the immediate publication of which would be imprudent in the highest degree. The publication of such from day to day might give great advantage to a formidable enemy, and endanger the very existence of the government itself. Each house is therefore allowed to judge of the propriety and prudence of such publications.
§ 3. The object of publication is twofold :
First, For future convenience; as it may be necessary to refer to the record, from time to time, in the transaction of business which may be more or less connected with what has
before. Second, It acts as a salutary check to hasty legislation, as each member knows that he is making a record to be read by coming generations.
ART. IV. - YEAS AND NAYS.
At the desire of one-fifth of those present, the yeas and nays of the members of either house shall be entered on the journal on any question. 19.
§ 1. The usual method of taking a vote in deliberative bodies is substantially this: The question being stated by the presiding officer, he puts it first affirmatively, “ As many as are in favor of the proposition, say Aye." All the members in favor of it respond Aye. The presiding officer then puts the question negatively,
• Those opposed, say No.” The president is generally able to decide by the sound; but, if not, he repeats the trial, calling the yote both affirmatively and negatively. If still in doubt, or at the request of a member, the house may be divided ; the affirmative taking one side, and the negative the other, when the secretary counts : and, on the count, the decision is made.
$ 2. But, in taking the yeas and nays, the process is quite different. The presiding officer states both sides at once, thus : many as are in favor, &c., will, when their names are called, swer Yea; and as many as are opposed will, when their names are called, answer No.” The names are then called, usually in alphabetical order, each member rising at the call of his name by the secretary or clerk, and answering yea or nay, as he votes ; the clerk noting the vote in each case. He then usually reads over the list of names and the votes in each case, so that, if any mistakes have been made, they may be corrected.
§ 3. The object of this process of voting is, that a definite and enduring record may be made of the transaction, both for the information of the people and for future reference. The record also shows who were absent; a matter of scarcely less importance to the member, or his constituency, than the vote itself one way or the other. Members sometimes absent themselves for the purpose of avoiding responsibility in voting.
$ 4. The Constitution places it within the power of one-fifth the members present to compel the calling of the yeas and nays. It is a power that may be shamefully abused, however, by a refractory minority calling for the yeas and nays on any and every frivolous
pretense, for the purpose of defeating decisive legislation on measures which they cannot prevent on direct vote. It consumes considerable time to take the yeas and nays in all assembly constituted of a hundred and fifty or two hundred members; and hours are sometimes wasted in this way on unimportant motions, so as to compel the majority to an adjournment from sheer exhaustion.
ART. V.- BUSINESS RULES. Each house may determine the rules of its own proceeaings. 18.
§ 1. Every deliberative assembly has an inherent right to adopt such rules as it chooses for the transaction of business, provided those rules do not violate any organic law from which such assembly receives its authority. It is but in affirmance of this right that the Constitution contains the foregoing clause.
§ 2. Take away the right to adopt their own rules of proceeding, and it would be utterly impracticable to transact business with facility and dispatch. Of course, the rules of business must be in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution. Neither house, for instance, could enforce a rule, should they make one, requiring more than one-fifth of the members present to secure the call of the yeas and nays.
ART. VI.- PENALTIES.
1. Either house may punish its members for disorderly
conduct ; and, 2. With the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member. 18.
§ 1. The power to punish members for disorderly conduct is usually given to legislative bodies. Without this power, it might be impossible, at times, to transact business. Under high excitement members are sometimes boisterous and tumultuous in conduct and they might persist in disturbing the assembly, but for this power to punish. Rules would be of no use without the power to enforce them.
§ 2. The power to expel a member is given for the same purpose; that is, for the preservation of order, and for the maintenance
of proper decorum. Without these, the country would lose all respect for its legislative assembly. But lest party-spirit might overstep the limits of propriety, and a domineering majority expe) members of opposite political sentiments from improper motives, & salutary restraint is imposed, requiring a vote of two-thirds for the expulsion of a member. So large a majority it would be difficult to secure in any case where the rights of the assembly had not beer grossly outraged.
ART. VII.- PROHIBITIONS. 1. ADJOURNMENTS. 1st. Neither house, during the session of Congress,
shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn
for more than three days ; nor, 2d. To any other place than that in which the two
houses shall be sitting. 20. 2. ON MEMBERS.
No member of either house shall, during the time for
which he was elected, be appointed to any office under
the United States, 1st. Which shall have been created during such time; nor,
2d. The emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time. 22.
§ 1. – ADJOURNMENTS. 1st. As to Time. If there were no limitation as to the time for which either house, during the session of Congress, might adjourn without the consent of the other, a factious party-spirit controlling in either house might seriously interrupt legislation, or bring it to an untimely close.
2d. As to Place. Were there no restriction with regard to the place to which either house might adjourn without the consent of the other, mischief equally disastrous and embarrassing might bu perpetrated. One house might compel the other to follow it from place to place for the very purpose of preventing legislation. This might be done by a minority taking advantage of the absence of a majority, as a minority has power to adjourn.
The duration of the sessions of Congress depends,
1st. On the Constitutional limitation, which can not extend be. yond the period of two years.
2d. On the pleasure of the two houses, subject to the foregoing restriction.
3d. On the pleasure of the President of the United States when the two houses can not agree on the time of adjournment.
$ 2.- ON MEMBERS. 1st. If a member of Congress were permitted to assist in creat ing an office, and then to resign his seat for the purpose of obtain. ing that office on being nominated to it by the President, it would throw wide open the doors to executive corruption. Numerous lucrative offices might thus be created by legislation, with the understanding, express or implied, between the legislators and the Executive, that the offices so created should be distributed among those wbo were instrumental in creating them.
The chairinan of the Judiciary Committee might propose to tie house of which he was a member the creation of a United States judgeship in California, with a salary of ten thousand dollars a year ; and, through his official influence, the bill might pass both houses of Congress. By pre-arrangement with the Executive, that office might be secured to the very man who had been the chief means of creating it, were he at liberty to resign his seat and take it.
2d. Also, by a system of "bargaining and selling," the salaries of certain offices might be greatly increased by mercenary legislation ; and then those salaries might be bestowed on the very men who had been active in augmenting them, but for the restriction under consideration.
We can not too much admire the wisdom, purity, and sagacity of the great and good men who formed the Constitution, in their efforts to withdraw as far as possible from the framework of our government all motives to selfish and dishonest legislation.
ART. VIII. - OFFICIAL OATH. Senators and representatives shall be bound by oath or affir. mation to support the Constitution of the United States 21