Sidebilder
PDF

proposition was, that senators represent their respective States in their political capacity, and are not regarded as representatives of the people. It was the intention of the authors of the Constitution that the Senate should be a far more grave, dignified, and aristocratic body than the House.

MODE OF ELECTION OF SENATORS.

Note. — By act of Congress, passed July 26, 1866, relating to the election of United-States senators by the State legislatures, it is provided, —

1st. That each House shall, by a vote viva voce of each member present, on the second Tuesday after the meeting and organization thereof, name a person for senator.

2d. On the day following, the two houses shall meet in joint assembly; and, if the same person shall have received a majority of all the votes cast in each house, he shall be declared duly elected senator of the United States.

3d. If no person has received such majorities, then the joint assembly shall choose, by a viva voce vote, a person for senator; and the person who shall receive a majority of all the votes of the joint assembly, a majority of the members of each house being present, shall be declared duly elected.

4th. If such senator is not elected on the first day, the joint assembly shall meet, and take at least one vote per day, during the entire session of the legislature, or until a senator shall be elected

5th. In relation to vacancies, the act provides, that, when one exists at a meeting of the legislature, the same proceedings shall be had on the second Tuesday after their meeting and organization.

6th. When a vacancy shall happen during the session of the legislature, like proceedings shall be had, beginning with the second Tuesday after notice of such vacancy shall have been received.

7th. The Governor of the State shall certify the election of » senator to the President of the United States.

ART. V. —WHEN CHOSEN.

One-third the number of senators shall be chosen every second year. 9.

This must necessarily be so, on account of the mode of classifying the senators which the Constitution prescribes, and which it directs to take place at the first organization of the Senate under the new government. Only one-third of the senators being chosen every second year, and but one-third retiring every second year, the Senate must always be constituted of members, one-third of whom have had at least four years of legislative experience, and of another third who have had at least two.

ART. VI.-HOW CLASSED.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes:

1. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated

at the expiration of the second year.

2. Of the second class, at the expiration of the fourth year.

3. Of the third class, at the expiration of the sixth year. 9. § 1. There was unanimity of opinion in the Constitutional Convention on the propriety of rendering the Senate a perpetual body. The prerogatives with which it is invested, and the duties required of it, render this indispensable; and it was therefore agreed to with but little or no discussion.

§ 2. The number of senators at first was twenty-six, there being thirteen States in the Union, and two senators from each State; though all were not present at the first classification. Were each of these senators to serve for six years, their terms would all expire at the same time. But the plan was, that one-third should retire every second year: hence it was necessary to adopt some method by which to determine who should go out at the end of two years, who at the end of four, and who at the end of six.

§ 3 The first proposition before the Convention was, that thk should be done by lot; and it was so inserted in the proposed draft of the Constitution. But this was erased on motion of Mr. Madison, as as to leave the Senate at liberty to adopt some method by which to prevent the election of two senators at the same time, and from the same State, for a full term of six years.

§ 4. It should be remarked here, that when a new State is admitted into the Union, and it chooses two senators, it is determined by lot which shall serve for the shorter, and which for the longer term.

At the first session of Congress under the Constitution, the division of the senators into three classes was made in the follow ing manner : —

1st. The senators present were divided into three classes by name; the first consisting of six persons, the second of seven, and the third of six. (Two or three senators had not yet reached the seat of government; and it will be remembered that Rhode Island and North Carolina had not yet ratified the new Constitution.) 2d. Three papers of an equal size, numbered one, two, and three, were, by the secretary, rolled up and put into a box, and drawn by a committee of three persons chosen for the purpose in behalf of the respective classes in which each of them was placed. 3d. The classes were to vacate their seats in the Senate according to the order of the numbers drawn for them, beginning with number one. 4th. It was also provided, that, when senators should take their seats from States which had not then appointed senators, they should be placed by lot in the foregoing classes, but in such a manner as should keep the classes as nearly equal as possible. 5th. In arranging the original classes, care was taken that both senators from the same State should not be in the same class, so that there never should be a vacancy, at the same time, of the seats of both senators.1

ART. VII. —VACANCIES.

If vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any State, — 1. The executive thereof may make temporary appointmenU

until the next meeting of the legislature. 'I. The legislature shall then fill such vacancies. 9,

1 Story on Const., § 726.

§ 1. If vacancies happen while the legislature of the State whose seats are thus vacated is in session, the legislature will fill the vacancies without official action on the part of the governor or executive. The governor has no authority in the case while that body is in session, — not even to appoint for a single day.

§ 2. He has no appointing power in anticipation of a vacancy soon to occur. He must wait until it actually happens. The Senate itself has decided this question. It is also doubtful if the legislature could choose a senator in anticipation of a vacancy.

§ 3. The senator chosen to fill a vacancy does not hold for the term of six years, but until the expiration of his predecessor's term only.

ART. VIII. —VOTE.

Each senator shall have one vote. 8.

This clause would seem to be superfluous, unless it be remembered, that, under the Confederation, each State, whatever the number of its members in Congress, had but one vote; and, if less than two members were present, it had no vote. The States were each allowed from two to seven members; and, if their delegation was equally divided, they lost their vote. One member was incapable of voting alone.

It was the intention of the Constitution to give equality of suffrage in the Senate; with the further advantage, that a senator shall not lose his vote, nor his State go entirely unrepresented, on account of the absence of one of the members from the senate-chamber.

ART. IX. —PRESIDING OFFICER.

1. The Vice-President of the United States shall be Presi

dent of the Senate.

2. He shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided. 11.

3. The Senate shall choose a president pro tempore in the ab

sence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States. 12. § 1. There was strong opposition in the Constitutional Convention to creating any such office as the Vice-Presidency; and, when this point was carried, there was considerable opposition to the proposition making the Vice-President the President of the Senate: though this last met with less hostility than the first; only two States voting against it.

§ 2. At first, it was intended to allow the Senate to choose their own presiding officer; but afterwards, when the Convention considered a second feature of the provision, — which was, that in ease of the death, removal, or disability of the President of the United States, the President of the Senate, as was proposed, was to perform the duties of the office thus made vacant, — the Vice-Presidency met with more favor.

§ 3. As presiding officer over the Senate, it was believed that ho would be more impartial in his decisions than that officer would were he a member of their own body. He might, in that case, be too much influenced by the interest he would feel in his own State. But how his being Vice-President, instead of senator, would deprive him of this feeling of State interest, was not shown; nor was it shown why the same objection might not apply as against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is a member of that body.

It seems more reasonable that the Constitution places that officer over the Senate "for want of something else to do " while there is a President of the United States.

§ 4. The Vice-President has no vote in the Senate unless they are equally divided. It is difficult to understand why he should have a vote even in such cases, since he is not a member of the Senate. A measure that can not be carried affirmatively by a majority of the members of a legislative body, especially after thorough discussion, it is generally presumed, ought to fail.

§ 5. The Vice-President's vote, therefore, is of no utility but to aid the affirmative. When the Senate is equally divided, the proposed bill or measure has failed unless the Vice-President comes to its rescue. An equal division in the other house defeats any proposition in legislative proceedmgs.

§ 6. The President pro tempore of the Senate is an officer of that body, chosen by its members, from among themselves, in the absence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise the duties of the presidential office.

« ForrigeFortsett »