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expel a member for disorderly behavior whenever his conduct is such as to lower the standard of that body or bring it into disrepute.
Under the Constitution, Senators must be elected by the state legislatures, and, until 1856, Congress left the several commonwealths to their own devices as to procedure; but in that year, Congress, under its power to determine the time and manner of electing Senators, prescribed a uniform method to be followed by all legislatures. It provided that the legislature, immediately preceding the expiration of the senatorial term, should proceed to elect the member on the second Tuesday after its meeting.' Each house first takes a viva voce vote separately and if one person receives a majority of the whole number of votes cast in each house, he is declared elected; in case no person receives a majority at the separate balloting, or in case either house has failed to act as required by law, the two houses must then meet in joint assembly and elect by viva voce vote and majority count. Failing an election on the first day, the joint assembly must meet every succeeding day at noon and cast one ballot until a Senator is elected.2
Notwithstanding this formal provision of law, United States Senators are really selected by party caucus where the system of direct nominations has not been adopted. That is, whenever there is a vacancy in the Senate, or the term of the Senator is about to expire, it is the practice of the members of the party having a majority in the legislature which is to elect to meet in caucus and agree in advance upon the candidate, whose nomination is then merely ratified by the formal vote in the legislature.
"Deadlocks" are of frequent occurrence, however, in our state legislatures. One of the most famous occurred in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1899, when, on January 17, it began balloting for the purpose of selecting a successor to Senator Quay, cast daily ballots until April 19, and then adjourned the following day without having effected an election. A still longer and more notorious contest was waged in Delaware by
1 Readings, p. 221.
2 The same method of election is followed in the case of a vacancy caused by death or resignation. The certificate of election must be sent by the governor of the state to the President of the United States Senate.
Mr. J. E. Addicks, whose fight in the legislature lasted, with
During the past quarter of a century there has been an extended
Many states have refused to wait on the tardy action of the amending process of the federal Constitution, and have proceeded to accomplish the desired result by independent action." United States Senators are now nominated by direct primary in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. The laws for accomplishing this radical reform (which is incidentally contrary to the letter and spirit of the federal Constitution) fall into four general groups; but under all of them the legislature is supposed to ratify the will of the voters expressed at the polls.
The first mode (common in the South) is illustrated by the Florida law of 1901, which is merely permissive: whenever the state executive, or standing committee of any party, wishes to take the sense of the party on the proper person to present as candidate for the United States Senate, due notice must be given
1 In case a vacancy in the Senate occurs when the state legislature is not
2 The history of the movement for popular election of Senators up to 1905
the party voters; and whenever petitioned by a majority of the party, the committee in question must avail itself of the provisions of the law.
The second method, adopted by the Illinois law of 1908,' provides for a direct party vote on the candidates for the United States Senate, but stipulates "that the vote upon candidates for United States Senator shall be had for the sole purpose of ascertaining the sentiment of the voters of the respective parties." The expression of opinion at the primary, however, may or may not be held binding in practice; and was in fact disregarded by the legislature of Illinois in the case of the first and only election under the law.
A third and still more definite type of direct nomination law is illustrated by the recent Kansas statute, according to which the candidate for United States Senator receiving the "highest number of votes of his party in the greatest number of representative and senatorial districts" is declared to be the nominee of his party "it being the purpose and intention of this provision," runs the act, "so far as the same is within the power of the legislature so to do, to give all electors of the state of Kansas the right to express their party choice for United States Senator, and to direct that the same be carried out by the party members of the legislature of the state." Thus is established a compulsory state-wide primary, the result of which is morally binding on the legislature.
The fourth plan, in force in Oregon and Nebraska, practically makes the direct election of Senators obligatory and certain. This plan embraces three distinct operations. In the first place, a direct primary is held for each party, at which the members are permitted to choose by ballot the party candidate for United States Senator. In the second place, the candidates of the several parties are then submitted to all the voters of the state at the regular election, and the candidate (whatever his politics) who receives the highest vote is declared to be the "people's choice." To make sure that the legislature will ratify the people's choice, an expedient has been devised for committing members of the legislature in advance. Candidates for the state legislature may indicate on the official election ballot
1 Declared unconstitutional in 1909 and reënacted in 1910.
whether or not they pledge themselves to vote for the popular
The term of the Senator is fixed at six years, and in practice Senators are far more frequently reëlected than members of the House of Representatives. At least five Senators, Benton of Missouri, Morrill of Vermont, Allison of Iowa, Jones of Nevada, and John Sherman of Ohio, served thirty years or more. The tendency toward reëlection seems to be more marked in the smaller states, perhaps because competition is not so keen, and it is easier for a Senator to maintain his influence over the legislature.
The terms of all the Senators do not expire at any one time, for the Senate is a continuous body, one-third of the members going out every two years, and, except in extraordinary cases arising from deadlocks, resignation, or death, it seldom happens that a state legislature is called upon to elect two Senators at the same time. At the first session of the Senate in 1789, that body divided its membership by lot into three classes, the seats of the first class being vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, thus making way for a renewal of only one-third of the Senate biennially.
Members of the Congress of the United States are entitled to certain privileges by virtue of their position. First among these may be reckoned compensation. The Constitution provides that Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law and paid out of the treasury of the United States. Up until 1855, it was the custom to pay members a certain per diem allowance;1 in that year a salary of $3000 per annum was voted; this amount was raised to $5000 in 1865; and increased in 1873 to $7500- an increase which met such a public protest that it was repealed at the next session. In 1907, however, the salary of Senators and Representatives was again fixed at $7500 per annum, to which
A salary was voted in 1816, but the law was speedily repealed.
is added an allowance for clerk hire, stationery, and travelling expenses.1
The second privilege enjoyed by members of Congress is freedom from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective houses, and in going to and returning from the same, in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace. This privilege, as Story points out, exempts Representatives and Senators from all processes, the disobedience of which is punishable by imprisonment. That is, a congressman, during the period mentioned above, cannot be compelled to testify in a court, serve on a jury, or respond to an action brought against him. The term "breach of the peace," however, extends to "all indictable offences, as well those which are in fact attended with force and violence as those which are only destructive to the peace of the government"; and, therefore, the member of Congress really enjoys no exemption from the ordinary processes of the criminal law. In going to and coming from Congress the member is allowed reasonable delays and reasonable deviations from the nearest course.
The third privilege enjoyed by members of Congress is freedom of speech during debate. The Constitution expressly provides that for any speech or debate no member of either house shall be questioned in any other place. This famous right, supposed by some persons to have been designed to guarantee full and free discussions of public matters in debate, is really derived from the practices of the English Parliament, where it was originated to protect the members against arbitrary arrest for criticism of the king. According to Professor Ford, it was placed in the American Constitution to protect members against respon sibility to their constituents.) The effect of this privilege is to free the members from the liability to prosecution for libel or slander for anything said in Congress, or in committees, in official
1 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: (1) Salary — $7500. (2) Mileage. (3) Clerk hire - $1500 (this applies also to members-elect); the more important committees have separate clerks whose salaries range from $3000 to $200; some also have assistant clerks and a janitor. (4) Stationery. SENATE: (1) Salary-$7500. (2) Mileage. (3) Clerk hire- $1800 (only for Senators who are not chairmen of committees); every committee has a clerk whose salary varies from $5000 to $2220; many also have assistant clerks and messengers. (4) Stationery.
2 Rise and Growth of American Politics, p. 63.