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Treaties being declared, equally with the laws of the United States, to be the supreme law of the land, it is understood that an act of the legislature alone can declare them infringed and rescinded. This was accordingly the process adopted in the case of France in 1798.
It has been the usage for the Executive, when it communicates a treaty to the Senate for their ratification, to communicate also the correspondence of the negotiators. This having been omitted in the case of the Prussian treaty, was asked by a vote of the House of February 12, 1800, and was obtained. And in December, 1800, the convention of that year between the United States and France, with the report of the negotiations by the envoys, but not their instructions, being laid before the Senate, the instructions were asked for and communicated by the President.
The mode of voting on questions of ratification is by nominal call. [In the Senate.]
I. When a treaty shall be laid before the Senate for ratification it shall be read a first time; and no motion in respect to it shall be in order, except to refer it to a committee, or to print it, in confidence, for the use of the Senate.
When a treaty is reported from a committee with or without amendment it shall, unless the Senate unanimously otherwise direct, lie one day for consideration; after which it may be read a second time and considered as in Committee of the Whole, when it shall be proceeded with by articles, and the amendments reported by the committee shall be first acted upon, after which other amendments may be proposed; and when through with, the proceedings had as in Committee of the Whole shall be reported to the Senate, when the question shall be, if the treaty be amended, "Will the Senate concur in the amendments made in Committee of the Whole?" And the amendments may be taken separately, or in gross, if no Senator shall object; after which new amendments may be proposed.
The decisions thus made shall be reduced to the form of a resolution of ratification, with or without amendments as the case may be; which shall be proposed on a subsequent day, unless, by unanimous consent, the Senate determine otherwise; at which stage no amendment shall be received, unless by unanimous consent.
On the final question to advise and consent to the ratification in the form agreed to, the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senators present shall be necessary to determine it in the affirmative; but all other motions and questions upon a treaty shall be decided by a majority vote, except a motion to postpone indefinitely, which shall be decided by a vote of two-thirds.
2. Treaties transmitted by the President to the Senate for ratification shall be resumed at the second or any subsequent session of the same Congress at the stage in which they were left at the final adjournment of the session at which they were transmitted; but all proceedings on treaties shall terminate with the Congress, and they shall be resumed at the commencement of the next Congress, as if no proceedings had previously been had thereon.
3. All treaties concluded with Indian tribes shall be considered and acted upon by the Senate in its open or legislative session, unless the same shall be transmitted by the President to the Senate in confidence; in which case they shall be acted upon with closed doors.
The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. Const., I, 3.
The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present, Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States. But the party convicted shall, nevertheless, be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law. Const., I, 3.
The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Const., II, 4.
The trial of crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury. Const., III, 2,
These are the provisions of the Constitution of the United States on the subject of impeachments. The following is a sketch of some of the principles and practices of England on the same subject:
Jurisdiction. The Lords cannot impeach any to themselves, nor join in the accusation, because they are the judges. Seld. Fudic. in Parl., 12, 63. Nor can they proceed against a commoner'but on complaint of the Commons. Ib., 84. The Lords may not, by the law, try a commoner for a capital offense, on the information of the King or a private person, because the accused is entitled to a trial by his peers generally; but on accusation by the House of Commons, they may proceed against the delinquent, of whatsoever degree, and whatsoever be the nature of the offense; for there they do not assume to themselves trial at common law The Commons are then instead of a jury, and the judgment is given on their demand, which is instead of a verdict. So the Lords do only judge, but not try the delinquent. Ib., 6, 7. But Wooddeson denies that a commoner can now be charged capitally before the Lords, even by the Commons; and cites Fitzharris's case, 1681, impeached of high treason, where the Lords remitted the prosecution to the inferior court. 8 Grey's Deb., 325-7; 2 Wooddeson, 576, 601; 3 Seld., 1604, 1610, 1618, 1619, 1641; 4 Blackst., 25; 9 Seld., 1656; 73 Seld., 1604-18.
Accusation. The Commons, as the grand inquest of the nation, become suitors for penal justice. 2 Wood., 597; 6 Grey, 356. The general course is to pass a resolution containing a criminal charge against the supposed delinquent, and then to direct some member to impeach him by oral accusation, at the bar of the House of Lords, in the name of the Commons. The person signifies that the articles will be exhibited, and desires that the delinquent may be sequestered from his seat, or be committed, or that the peers will take order for his appearance. Sachev. Trial, 325; 2 Wood., 602, 605; Lords' Fourn., 3 June, 1701; 1 Wms., 616; 6 Grey, 324.
Process. If the party do not appear, proclamations are to be issued, giving him a day to appear. On their return they are strictly examined. If any error be found in them, a new proclamation issues, giving a short day. If he appear not, his goods may be arrested, and they may proceed. Seld. Fud., 98, 99.
Articles. The accusation (articles) of the Commons is substituted in place of an indictment. Thus, by the usage of Parliament, in impeachment for writing or speaking, the particular words need not be specified. Sach. Tr., 325; 2 Wood., 602, 605; Lords' Fourn., 3 Fune, 1701; 1 Wms, 616.
for his answer.
Appearance. If he appear, and the case be capital, he answers in custody; though not if the accusation be general. He is not to be committed but on special accusations. If it be for a misdemeanor only, he answers, a lord in his place, a commoner at the bar, and not in custody, unless, on the answer, the Lords find cause to commit him, till he finds sureties to attend, and lest he should fly. Seld. Fud., 98, 99. A copy of the articles is given him, and a day fixed. T. Ray.; 1 Rushw, 268; Fost., 232; 1 Clar. Hist. of the Reb., 379. On a misdemeanor, his appearance may be in person, or he may answer in writing, or by attorney. Seld. Jud., 100. The general rule on accusation for a misdemeanor is, that in such a state of liberty or restraint as the party is when the Commons complain of him, in such he is to answer. Ib., 101. If previously committed by the Commons, he answers as a prisoner. But this may be called in some sort judicium parium suorum. Ib. In misdemeanors the party has a right to counsel by the common law, but not in capital cases. Seld. Fud., 102, 105.
Answer. The answer need not observe great strictness of form. He may plead guilty as to part, and defend .as to the residue; or, saving all exceptions, deny the whole or give a particular answer to each article separately. 1 Rush., 274; 2 Rush., 1374; 12 Parl. Hist. 442; 3 Lords' Fourn., 13 Nov., 1643; 2 Wood., 607. But he cannot plead a pardon in bar to the impeachment. 2 Wood., 615; 2 St. Tr., 735.
Replication, rejoinder, &c. There may be a replication, rejoinder, &c. Sel. Jud., 114; 8 Grey's Deb., 233; Sach. Tr., 15; Fourn. H. of Commons, 6 March, 1640-1.
Witnesses. The practice is to swear the witnesses in open House, and then examine them there; or a committee may be named, who shall examine them in committee, either on interrogatories agreed on in the House, or such as the committee in their discretion shall demand. Seld. Jud., 120, 123.
Jury. In the case of Alice Pierce, 1 R., 2, a jury was impaneled for her trial before a committee. Seld. Fud., 123. But this was on a complaint, not on impeachment by the Commons. Seld Fud., 163. It must also have been for a misdemeanor only, as the Lords spiritual sat in the case, which they do on misdemeanors, but not in capital cases. Id., 148. The judgment was a forfeiture of all her lands and goods. Id., 188. This, Selden says, is the only jury he finds recorded in Parliament for misdemeanors; but he makes no doubt, if the delinquent doth put himself on the trial of his country, a jury ought to be impaneled, and he adds that it is not so on impeachment by the Commons; for they are in loco proprio, and there no jury ought to be impaneled. Id., 124. The Ld. Berkeley, 6 E., 3, was arraigned for the murder of L. 2, on an information on the part of the King, and not on impeachment of the Commons; for then they had been patria sua. He waived his peerage, and was tried by a jury of Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. Id., 126. In 1 H. 7, the Commons protest that they are not to be considered as partres to any judgment given, or hereafter to be given, in Parliament. Id., 133. They have been generally and more justly considered, as is before stated, as the grand jury; for the conceit of Selden is certainly not accurate, that they are the patria sua of the accused, and that the Lords do only judge, but not try. It is undeniable that they do try; for they examine witnesses as to the facts, and acquit or condemn, according to their own belief of them. And Lord Hale says, "the peers are judges of law as well as of fact;" 2 Hale, P. C., 275; consequently of fact as well as of law.
Presence of Commons. The Commons are to be present at the examination of witnesses. Seld. Fud., 124. Indeed, they are to attend throughout, either as a committee of the whole House, or otherwise, at discretion, appoint managers to conduct the proofs. Rushw. Tr. of Straff., 37; Com. Fourn., 4 Feb., 1709-10; 2 Wood., 614. And judgment is not to be given till they demand it. Seld. Fud., 124. But they are not to be present on impeachment when the Lords consider of the answer or proofs and determine of their judgment Their presence, however, is necessary at the answer and judgment in cases capital Id. 58, 158 as well as not capital; 162.