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States yielded up an equality of representation in the House of Representatives, and the great States, in like manner, conceded an equality in the Senate
This arrangement, so vital to the peace of the Union, and to the preservation of the separate existence of the States, is, at the same time, full of wisdom, and sound political policy. It introduces, and perpetuates, in the different branches of the Legislature, different elements, which will make the theoretical check, contemplated by the division of the legislative power, more efficient and constant in its operation. The interests, passions, and prejudices of a particular representative district may thus be controlled by the influence of a whole State ; the like interests, passions, and prejudices of a State, or of a majority of the States, may thus be controlled by the voice of a majority of the people of the Union.
§ 102. Secondly, the mode of choosing Senators. They are to be chosen by the Legislature of each State. This mode has a natural tendency to increase the just operation of the check, to which we have already alluded. The people of the States directly choose the Representatives ; the Legislature, whose votes are variously compounded, and whose mode of election is different in dif ferent States, directly choose the Senators. So that it is impossible, that exactly the same influences, interests, and feelings, should prevail in the same proportions in each branch. Three schemes were presented in the Convention ; one was, a choice directly by the people of the States; another was, a choice by the national House of Representatives ; and the third was, that which now exists. Upon mature deliberation, the last was thought to possess a decided preference over either of the other two. It was recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the national government, as might secure a due authority to the former, and may well serve as a connecting link between the two systems. Our past experience has fully justified the wisdom of the choice.
§ 103. The Constitution has not provided for the man
ner, in which the choice shall be made by the State Legis. latures, whether by a joint vote, or by a concurrent vote ; the former is, where both branches form one assembly, and give a united vote numerically ; the latter is, where each branch gives a separate and independent vote. As each of the State Legislatures now consists of two branches, this is a very important practical question. Generally, but not universally, the choice of Senators is made by a concurrent vote. Another question might be suggested, whether the Executive constitutes a part of the Legislature for such a purpose, in cases where the Staie constitution gives him a qualified negative upon the laws. But this has been silently and universally settled against the executive participation in the appointment.
§ 104. Thirdly, the number of Senators. Each State is entitled to two Senators. To insure competent knowledge and ability to discharge all the functions intrusted to the Senate, and, at the same time, to give promptitude and efficiency to their acts, the number should not be unreasonably large or small. The number should be sufficiently large to insure a sufficient variety of talents and experience and practical skill for the just discharge of all the duties of that important branch of the Legislature. A very small body also is more easily overawed and intimidated by external influences, than one of a reasonable size, embracing weight of character, and dignity of talents. Numbers, alone, in many cases, confer power, and encourage firmness. If the number of the Senate were confined to one for each State, there would be danger, that it might be too small for a comprehensive knowledge and diligence in all the business devolved upon the body. And besides ; in such a case, the illness, or accidental absence of a Senator might deprive a State of its vote upon an important question, or of its influence in an interesting debate. If, on the other hand, the number were very large, the Senate might become unwieldy, and want despatch, and due responsibility. It could hardly exercise due deliberation in some functions connected with executive duties, which might, at the same time, require prompt action. If any number beyond one be proper, two seems as convenient a number as any, which can be devised. The Senate, upon its present organization, cannot probably ever become too large or too small for the fit discharge of all its functions. The benefit is retained, of consultation, and mutual interchange of opinion between the members from the same State ; and the number is sufficient to guard against any undue influence over it by the more popular branch of the Legislature.
$ 105. Fourthly, the term of service of the Senators. It is for six years, although, as we shall presently see, one third of the members is changed every two years. What is the proper duration of the office, is certainly a matter, upon which different minds may arrive at different conclusions. The term should have reference to the nature and extent of the duties to be performed, the experience to be required, the independence to be secured, and the objects to be attained. A very short duration of office, diminishes responsibility, and energy, and public spirit, and firmness of action, by diminishing the motives to great efforts, and also, by diminishing the means of maturing, and carrying into effect, wise measures. The Senate has various highly-important functions to perform, besides its legislative duties. It partakes of the executive power of appointment to office, of and the ratification of public treaties. To perform these functions worthily, the members should enjoy public confidence at home and abroad; and they should be beyond the reach of the sudden impulses of domestic factions, as well as of foreign influences. They should not be subject to intimidation by the mere seekers of office ; nor should they be deemed by foreign nations, to have no permanent weight in the administration of the government. They should be able, on the one hand, to guard the States against usurpations of authority on the part of the National Government; and on the other hand, to guard the people against the unconsti tutional projects of selfish demagogues. They should have the habits of business, and the large experience in the affairs of government, derived from a practical concern in them for a considerable period. They should be chosen for a longer period than the House of Represen
catives, in order to prevent sudden and total changes at the same period of all the functionaries of the government, which would necessarily encourage instability in the public councils, and stimulate politica. agitations and rivalries. In all these respects, the term of office of the Senators seems admirably well adapted to the purposes of an efficient, and yet of a responsible body. It secures the requisite qualifications of skill, experience, information, and independence. It prevents any sudden changes in the public policy. It induces foreign nations to treat with the government with more confidence, from the consciousness of the permanence of its councils. It commands a respect at home, which enables it to resist any undue inroads of the popular branch ; and, at the same time, its duration is not so long, as to take away a pressing sense of responsibility both to the people, and to the States.
§ 106. But, in order to quiet the last lingering scruples of jealousy on this head, the next clause of the Constitution provides for a change of one third of the members every two years. It declares,—“ Immediately after they (the Senators) shall be assembled, in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided, as equally as may be, into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class, shall bė vacated at the expiration of every second year; of the second class, at the expiration of every fourth year; and of the third class, at the expiration of every sixth year; so that one third may be chosen every second year.” Thus, the whole body is gradually changed in the course of the six years, always retaining a large portion of experience, and yet incapable of combining its members together for any sinister purposes. would probably propose a less duration of office for the Senators, than double the period of that of the members of the House. In effect, this provision changes, within the same period, the composition of two thirds of the body.
$ 107. As vacancies may occur in the Senate during che recess of the State Legislatures, it became indispensable to provide for that exigency, in order to preserva
the full right of representation of each State in that body. Accordingly, the same clause declares—“And if any vacancies happen, by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary appointments, until the next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such va cancies.” This mode seems as unexceptionable, as any which could be adopted. It enables the Executive of the State to appoint a temporary Senator, when the State Legislature is not in session. One of three courses, only, seemed open; either to allow the vacancy to remain unfilled, which would deprive the State of its due vote; or to allow the State Legislature prospectively to provide for the vacancy by a contingent appointment, which might be liable to some objections of a different character; or to confide a temporary appointment to the highest State functionary, who might well be presumed to enjoy the public confidence, and be devoted to the public interest, and to have very strong motives to make a judicious appointment.
$ 108. We next come to the qualifications of Senators. No person shall be a Senator, who shall not have attained the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State, for which he shall be chosen.” As the nature of the duties of a Senator requires more experience, knowledge, and stability of character, than those of a Representative, the qualification of age is accordingly raised. A person may be a Representative, at twenty-five years ; but he cannot be a Senator, until thirty years. Citizenship, also, is required, the propriety of which qualification cannot well be doubt. ed. The term of citizenship of a Representative is seven years ; that of a Senator is nine
The reason, for increasing the term, in the latter case, is, the direct cou nection of the Senate with foreign nations, in the appointment of ambassadors, and in the formation of treaties. This prolonged term may well be required of a foreigner, not only to give him a more thorough knowledge of the interests of his adopted ccuntry ; but also to wean him