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PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
CONVENTION HELD AT PHILADELPHIA.
MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 1838.
Mr. PAYNE, the senatorial delegate for the district composed of the counties of Venango, Warren, Jefferson, M'Kean, Potter and Tioga, elected in the place of Orlo J. Hamlin, Esq., resigned, appeared and took his seat in the convention.
A motion was made by Mr. Woodward, and read as follows, viz:
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prepare and report a schedule to the amended constitution.
And on motion,
The said resolution was read the second time, considered and adopted; and,
Ordered, That Messrs. Woodward, Scott, Banks, M'Sherry, Hays, Payne, Cox, Maclay and Farrelly be the committee for the purpose expressed in said resolution.
The Secretary proceeded to read the eleventh section of the first article, as follows:
SECTION 9. Each house shall choose its speaker and other officers; and the senate shall also choose a speaker pro tempore, when the speaker shall exercise the office of governor.
There being no amendment offered to this section,
Mr. MEREDITH of Philadelphia, moved to dispense with the further reading of the sections, and that the convention proceed to the question in the report of the committee of the whole on the first article.
Mr. EARLE, of Philadelphia, objected, as he had a wish to move a new section.
Mr. MEREDITH said he had made inquiry among some gentlemen on the other side, and was not aware of any intention to make amendments. He was not of the opinion that any new section was required.
Mr. CLARKE, of Indiana, said he wished to offer an amendment.
The Chair then proceeded to put the question on the motion of Mr. MEREDITH and had counted the ayes—54; when
Mr. INGERsoll, of Philadelphia, asked for the yeas and nays; whereupon,
Mr. MEREDITH withdrew his motion.
Section 12. Each house shall judge of the qualifications of its members. Contested elections shall be determined by a committee to be selected, formed and regulated in such manner as shall be directed by law. A majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smallel number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized by law to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as may be provided ”
There being no amendment offered to this section, the Secretary proceeded to read the thirteenth section, as follows, viz:
SECTION 13. Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same cause; and shall have all other powers necessary for a branch of the legislature of a free state.”
Mr. CHAMBERs, of Franklin, rose to propose an amendment. He had voted, he said, for dispensing with the reading of the remaining sections of this article; but as it appeared that amendments were about to be offered, he would move to amend the report of the committee of the whole, by inserting, after section thirteenth, a new section to be called “SECTION 14, " in the words following, viz:
“The legislature shall have no power to grant divorces, but may authorize the courts of justice to grant them for such causes as may be directed by law, provided that such laws be general, and uniform in their operation throughout the state.”
Mr. CHAMBERs, in explanation of his amendment said, that he had been desirous to impose some restliction on the legislature on the subject of divorces. He had entertained some doubt whether his proposition would better come in the schedule, or here: but he believed the best place was in the first article which relates to the exercise of the legislative powers. The section which had just been read, declares that the legislature “shall have all powers necessary for a branch of the legislature of a free state ;” and this, therefore, seemed to be the proper place for the insertion of any restriction. Divorce is an exercise of judicial power. It is an adjudication to dissolve a contract of the most important character, by reason of violations of the obligations imposed by that contract, on the part of one of the parties to it. It is a violation of contract, as well as of the civil relation of marriage It is an annulling of a contract. Why, then, should this iudi