« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
ten days (Sundays excepted) after it is presented to him, or it be comes a law without his signature. But if it does not receive his signature, and before the ten days expire Congress adjourns, so that the President has not the ten days to keep it and then return it, it is not a law.
This veto power was probably copied from the British system, and seems to give the President some portion of monarchical power. But in the British system it has become wholly obsolete. The phrase, “ King, Lords, and Commons," as designating the legislative power, is meaningless; the lords and commons having the whole power of legislation, and no king has ventured to interpose his negative since 1692. This negative of the king would be final, for in theory it is absolute. But if a British sovereign should undertake at this day to resist the power of the lords and commons by refusing his assent to a law which had passed both Houses, it would cause a revolution; while our Presidents have used this power, and some times quite freely. It might seem, therefore, that we, republican as we are, have more of a king than Great Britain has.
But this is not the right way of looking at this matter. The negative of the President amounts to just this. If he disapproves a bill, he can require a reconsideration of it by the Senate and House of Representatives, with any light which he may throw upon the objections to the bill, and then a vote of two-thirds. This is all. It is a wise precaution against bills which might be passed inconsiderately, or under the influence of personal or party passion, by a bare majority. This is a power properly placed in the hands of the chief magistrate; and whenever a President believes that a bill is so objectionable or so questionable as to call for reconsideration and a larger majority, it is his duty to require this by withholding his assent.
As to his preventing a bill from becoming a law by "pocketing it,” as is the phrase, Congress, which is the master of its own adjournments, can avoid that by continuing their session. It is, however, not the right way. Congress should not be compelled to remain in session, and, if it is the close of the political year for which the representatives are chosen, cannot remain in session. The constitution cannot intend that the President in such case should prevent a bill from becoming a law by merely keeping it from Congress.
By the first section of the second article of the constitution it is provided that in case of the removal of the President from office, or his death or inability to discharge the duties of the office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-President; and Congress may provide by law for the case of the removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of President and Vice-President, declaring what officer shall then act as President. Accordingly Congress has provided by law that, in such case, the President of the Senate pro tempore, and in case there shall be no President of the Senate, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the time being, shall act as President until the disability be removed or a President be elected.
The Vice-President is President of the Senate, but has no vote, unless they be equally divided. This constitutes a difference between the Senate and the lIouse. The people choose the President of the Senate when they choose the Vice-President of the nation. The House of Representatives chooses its own Speaker. The Senate also chooses a President pro tempore, who takes the place of the Vice-President when he is absent.
The second article of the constitution provides that no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the constitution, shall be eligible as President. The twelfth article of amendment provides that no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President.
THE LEGISLATIVE POWER.
There can be no doubt that our fathers profited by the experience of Great Britain in vesting the legislative functions in two bodies. There it grew up by what we call accident; and, indeed, the early history of the English Parliament is somewhat uncertain. Now, however, the Parliament is composed of the House of Lords, of which the members sit by hereditary tenure (excepting the Scotch and Irish lords, who are elected from the peers of each country, and are called representative peers), and the House of Commons, which consists of members chosen by the votes of those who possess the elective franchise.
We have no lords, and no hereditary tenure of office or place, and, it may be hoped, are not likely to have them. And the resemblance of a Senate to a House of Lords, however remote, caused a prejudice against this division of the legislative functions between two Houses. There was, indeed, great opposition to this; and some wise men doubted its expediency and safety. But better counsels prevailed. By the Articles of Confederation Congress had consisted of only one body; and a part of the feebleness and inadequacy of that confederation was attributed to that fact. It was, moreover, seen that the requirement of the consent of two distinct bodies supplied a useful and necessary protection against hasty and passionate leg. islation, not only by the delay it caused, but by the twofold consideration of a proposed measure. Not only so, but by providing that one of the Houses should be chosen in a different way and by a different body from the other, any measure would be looked at under a different aspect, and a decision be governed by somewhat different influences.
In a republican government, acting under a constitution carefully discriminating between the different functions of government and placing them in different hands, there is always danger that one of these functionaries will strive to enlarge its own power by absorbing the functions of another. The executive must be guarded from the temptation and the opportunity of encroaching upon the legislature or the judiciary. The legislature must be guarded from the temptation and the opportunity of encroaching upon the executive or the judiciary. At different times we have heard the cry of “ Cesarism” raised, which means that there are some among the people who suspect the President of aiming at more than republican, — at imperial power. At other times, watchful "men have thought they saw a mischievous increase in the pretensions of the House of Representatives, and perhaps in the power they assumed and exercised. Whether these suspicions were well or ill founded, nothing can be better founded than the fear that a body possessing legislative powers will always be exposed to the temptation of increasing that power, and making themselves sovereign in fact, however another name and appearance may be preserved. History proves this. The Long Parliament in England voted itself perpetual, and for a time was supreme. Holland was formerly governed by one representative body, annually elected. They afterwards voted themselves from an annually to a septennially elected body; then for life; and finally exercised the power of filling up all vacant offices: and thus the government became an oligarchy and a tyranny, although retaining the name of a republic. Think of it as we may, this danger will always exist. And there can be no more efficient barrier against it than the division of the legislative function, and conferring it upon two bodies, each of which will watch the other, and detect, expose, and resist any attempted encroachment.
Then, also, greater stability is given in this way to the course of legislation, by obstructing hasty and inconsiderate change, and increasing the probability that all actual objections to the proposed
change will come under consideration. And there is also an advantage in the greater permanence which is gained, if to the members of one of these bodies a longer term of office is given, as is the case with our Senate.
There is still another reason. It was deemed desirable to give a portion of executive power, or rather a direct check upon the execative power, to the legislative body. And this could be done more safely and more conveniently if there were two bodies, one smaller and more permanent than the other, and by this permanence further removed from the passions or prejudices of the hour and the fluctuations of public opinion; and to this smaller body was given this restraint over the executive
OF THE SENATE.
The Senate is composed of two senators from each State ; and cach senator has one vote.
It has equal and concurrent power with the House in all the common topics of legislation, excepting that the seventh section of the first article declares that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as on other bills.”
This provision is undoubtedly copied from the British Parliament. There only the House of Commons can originate money bills, as they are called. How this usage, which has now become a settled rule, grew up, is not certainly known : but probably from the fact that the House of Commons itself began by the calling together by the King of persons from the boroughs, cities, and counties, when he wanted supplies of money from them. In our constitution, this privilege of originating a measure which would tax the people was given exclusively to the representatives, because that body came directly, and most recently, from the people. Perhaps an additional reason was found in the wish to balance the two Houses properly. As the Senate must concur with the President in making war and peace, and so may be said to have hoid of the sword of the nation, it was thought well to give to the representatives the exclusive power to originate money bills, and thus to give them a stronger hold upon the nation's purse. In Great Britain, the lords can do nothing with a money bill but accept or reject it. Our Senate, however, may propose amendments, as in other bills.
The senators are not chosen directly by the people of a State, but by the legislature; thus making another difference between them and the representatives. The constitution does not prescribe the manner in which senators should be chosen; but, as it was obviously desirable that there should be some uniformity in this respect, it was provided by a law approved July 25th, 1866, that the legislatures of the several States should elect senators in the following manner : Each House, by a viva voce vote of each member present, shall name a person for senator, on the second Tuesday after the meeting and organization thereof. On the day following, both Houses shall meet in assembly. If the same person has received a majority of all the votes cast in each House, he shall be declared duly elected senator; if not, the assembly shall proceed to choose a person by a viva voce vote, and if that person shall receive a majority of all votes of the joint assembly, a majority of the members of each House being present, he shall be declared duly elected. If no senator is elected on the first day, the joint assembly shall meet and take at least one vote each day, until an election is secured. When a vacancy shall occur during the session of a legislature, the same proceedings shall be held on the second Tuesday after notice of such vacancy shall be received.
The only objection to this method is, that it puts it in the power of a majority of either House to prevent an election, by staying away from the assembly. The constitution does not declare whether the governor of each State must approve the election, as in the case of common bills; but usage seems to have settled that his approval is not necessary, and consequently that he cannot invalidate the election by withholding his approval.
Senators are elected for six years; and are divided, by senatorial act, into classes, -one-third, or as nearly that as is practicable, going out every two years; care being taken that the two senators from each State shall go out in different years.
This term of six years was a compromise between extreme views: some of those who framed the constitution wishing them to retain office during good behavior,—that is, for life, unless they misbehaved; others saw no reason why they should retain office longer than the representatives. But the desire to give to the Senate more stability and permanence prevailed, and so the term of six years was adopted.
We have seen that the Senate, if not a sharer in the executive power, holds at least a most important check upon it, inasmuch as the President can take but few important measures without the advice and consent of the Senate. Only with it can he appoint ambassadors, consuls, and other public ministers, and judges of the Supreme Court. Congress may by law vest the appointment of