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to make their attack upon it, it now being as perfect as its friends can shape it, and as little exceptionable as its enemies have been able to make it. Attempts are, indeed, sometimes made at previous stages to defeat it, but they are usually disjointed efforts; because many persons who do not expect to be in favor of the bill ultimately, are willing to let it go on to its most perfect state, to take time to examine it for themselves, and to hear what can be said in its favor.
$ 899. The two last stages of the bill, namely, on the questions, whether it shall havo a third reading, and whether it shall pass, are the strong points of resistance and defence. The first is usually the most interesting contest, because the subject is more new and engaging, and the trial of strength has not been made; so that the struggle for victory is yet wholly doubtful, and the ardor of debate is proportionally warm and earnest. If the bill is ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, it is, when engrossed, put upon its final passage.
Amendments are sometimes made to it at this stage, though reluctantly; and any new clause, thus added, is called a rider. If the vote is that the bill shall pass, the title is then settled, though a title is always reported with the bill; and that being agreed to, the day of its passage is noted at the foot of it by the clerk. It is then signed by the speaker, and transmitted to the other house for concurrence therein.
$ 900. Tho bill, when thus transmitted to tho other house, goes through similar formg. It is either rejected, committed, or concurred in, with or without amendments. If a bill is amended by the house to which it is transmitted, it is then returned to the other house, in which it originated, for their assent to the amendment. If tho amendment is agreed to, tho fact is made known to the other house. If not agreed to, the disagreement is in like manner notified. And the like course is adopted, where the amendment is agreed to with an amendment. In either of these cases, the house proposing the amendment may recede from it, or may adopt it with the amendment proposed by the other house. If neither is done, the house then voto to insist on the amendment or to adhere to it. A vote to insist keeps the question still open. But a vote to adhere requires the other house either to insist or to recede; for if, on their part, there is a vote to adhere, the bill usually falls without
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further effort. But, upon a disagreement between the two houses, a conference by a committee of each is usually asked; and in this manner the matters in controversy are generally adjusted by adopting the course recommended by the committees, or one of them. When a bill has passed both houses, the house last acting on it makes known its passage to the other, and it is delivered to the joint committee of enrolment, who see that it is truly enrolled in parchment, and, being signed by the speaker of the house and the president of the senate, it is then sent to the President for his signature. If he approves it, he signs it; and it is then deposited among the rolls in the office of the department of state. If he disapproves of it, he returns it to the house in which it originated, with his objections. Here they are entered at large on the journal, and afterwards the house proceed to a considerar tion of them. 1
§ 901. This review of the forms and modes of proceeding in the passing of laws cannot fail to impress upon every mind the cautious steps by which legislation is guarded, and the solicitude to conduct business without precipitancy, rashness, or irregularity. Frequent opportunities are afforded to each house to review their own proceedings; to amend their own errors; to correct their own inadvertencies; to recover from the results of any passionate excitement; and to reconsider the votes to which persuasive eloquence or party spirit has occasionally misled their judgments. Under such circumstances, if legislation be unwise or loose or inaccurato, it belongs to the infirmity of human nature in general, or to that personal carelessness and indifference which is sometimes the foible of genius as well as the accompaniment of ignorance and prejudice.
$ 902. The structure and organization of the several branches composing the legislature have also (unless my judgment has misled me) been shown by the past review to be admirably adapted to preserve a wholesome and upright exercise of their powers. All the checks which human ingenuity has been able to devise (at least, all which, with reference to our habits, institutions, and local interests, seemed practicable or desirable) to give
1 This summary is abstracted from 1 Black. Comm. 181, 182; 1 Tucker's Black. Comm. App. 229, 230, note ; 1 Kent, Comm. Lect. 11, pp. 223, 224 ; 2 Wilson's Law 1.ect. 171, 172, 173 ; Rawle on the Constitution, ch. 6, p. 60, etc. : and especially from the rules of both houses, and Jefferson's Manual (edition at Washington, 1828).
perfect operation to the machinery of government, to adjust all its movements, to prevent its eccentricities, and to balance its forces,- all these have been introduced, with singular skill, ingenuity, and wisdom, into the structure of the Constitution.
$ 903. Yet, after all, the fabric may fall; for the work of man is perishable, and must forever have inherent elements of decay. Nay, it must perish, if there be not that vital spirit in the people which alone can nourish, sustain, and direct all its movements. It is in vain that statesmen shall form plans of government in which the beauty and harmony of a republic shall be cmbodice in visible order, shall be built up on solid substructions, and adorned by crery useful ornament, if the inhabitants suffer the silent power of time to dilapidate its walls, or crumble its massy supporters into dust; if the assaults from without are never resisted, and the rottenness and mining from within are never guarded against. Who can preserve the rights and libcrtics of the people, when they shall be abandoned by themselves ? Who shall keep watch in the temple, when the watchmen sleep at their posts ? Who shall call upon the people to redeem their possessions, and revive the republic, when their own hands have deliberately and corruptly surrendered them to the oppressor, and have built the prisons, or dug the graves, of their own friends ? Aristotle, in ancient times, upon a large survey of the republics of former days, and of the facile manner in which they had been made the instruments of their own destruction, felt himself compelled to the melancholy reflection, which has been painfully repeated by one of the greatest statesmen of modern times, that a democracy has many striking points of resemblance with a tyranny. “The ethical character,” says Edmund Burke, “is the same; both exercise despotism over the better class of citizens; and the decrccs are in the one what ordinances and arrêts are in the other. The demagogue, too, and the court favorite are not unfrequently the same identical men, and always bear a close analogy. And these have the principal power, each in their respective governments, favorites with the absolute monarch, and demagogues with the people, such as I have described.” 1
§ 904. This dark picture, it is to be hoped, will never be
1 Burke on the French Revolution, note ; Aristotle, Polit. B. 4, ch. 4. See Montes. quieu's Spirit of Laws, B. 8, passim.
applicable to the republic of America. And yet it affords a warning which, like all the lessons of past experience, we are not permitted to disregard. America, free, happy, and enlightened as she is, must rest the preservation of her rights and liberties upon the virtue, independence, justice, and sagacity of the people. If either fail, the republic is gone. Its shadow may remain with all the pomp and circumstance and trickery of government, but its vital power will have departed. In America, the demagogue may arise, as well as elsewhere. He is the natural though spurious growth of republics; and like the courtier he may, by his blandishments, delude the ears and blind the eyes of the people to their own destruction. If ever the day shall arrive in which the best talents and the best virtues shall be driven from office by intrigue or corruption, by the ostracism of the press, or the still more unrelenting persecution of party, legislation will cease to be national. It will be wise by accident and bad by system.
POWERS OF CONGRESS.
$ 905. We have now arrived, in the course of our inquiries, at the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, which contains an enumeration of the principal powers of legislation consided to Congress. A consideration of this most important subject will detain our attention for a considerable time; as well because of the variety of topics which it embraces, as of the controversies and discussions to which it has given rise. It has been in the past time, it is in the present time, and it will probably in all future time continue to be the debatable ground of the Constitution, signalized at once by the victories and the defeats of the same parties. Here the advocates of State rights and the friends of the Union will meet in hostile array. And here those who have lost power will maintain long and arduous struggles to regain the public confidence, and those who have secured power will dispute every position which may be assumed for attack, either of their policy or their principles. Nor ought it at all to surprise us if that which has been true in the political history of other nations shall be truo in regard to our own: that tho oppos. ing parties shall occasionally be found to maintain the same system, when in power, which they have obstinately resisted when out of power. Without supposing any insincerity or departure from principle in such cascs, it will bo casily imagined that a very different course of reasoning will force itself on the minds of those who are responsible for the measures of government, from that which the ardor of opposition and the jealousy of rivals might well foster in those who may desire to defeat what they have no interest to approve.
§ 906. The first clause of the eighth section is in the following words: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."