Obrázky stránek

caprice of the Speaker, or captiousness of the members. It is very material that order, decency and regularity be preserved in a dignified public body.—2 Hats., 149.


All legislative prwers bereio granted, shall be vested in a Congress of the United states, wbich shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 1.

The 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 - Const. U.S., Art 1, Sec. 6.

For the powers of Congress, see the following Articles and Sections of the Constitution of the United States :- Art. I , Sec. 4, 7, 8, 9 --Art. II., Sec. 1, 2. -Art. III., Sec. 3.–Art. IV., Sec. 1, 3, 5–And all the Amendments.


PRIVILEGED. The privileges of the members of Parliament, from small and obscure beginnings, have been advancing for centuries with a firm and never-yielding pace. Claims seem to bave been brought forward from time to time, and repeated till some example of their admission enabled them to build law on that example. We can only, therefore, state the point of progression at which they now are. It is now acknowledged : 1st, That they are at all times exempted from question elsewhere, for anything said in their own House ; that during the time of privilege; 2d, Neither a member himself, his wife,* or his servants, (familiares sui,] for any matter of their own, may be* arrested on mesne process, in any civil suit; 3d, Nor be detained under execution, though levied before the time of privilege; 4th, Nor impleaded, cited or subpened in any court; 5th, Nor summoned as a witness or juror; 6th, Nor may their lands or goods be distrained ; 7th, Nor their persons assaulted, or characters traduced. And the period of time, covered by privilege, before and after the session, with the practice of short prorogations under the copnivance of the Crown, amounts, in fact, to a perpetual protection against the course of justice. In one instance, indeed it has been relaxed by 10 G. 3, c. 50, which permits judiciary proceedings to go on against them. That these privileges must be continually progressive, seems to result from their rejecting all definition of them, the doctrine being, that “their diguity and independence are preserved by keeping their privileges indefinite ;" and that “the maxims upon which they proceed, together with the method of proceeding, rest entirely in their own breast; and are not defined and ascertained by any particular stated law.”— 1 Blackstone, 163, 164.

It was probably from this view of the encroaching character of privilege, that the framers of our Constitution, in their care to provide that the laws shall biod equally on all, and especially that those who make them shall not exempt themselves from their operation, have only privileged "Sepators and

*Elsynge, 217-Hats, 31-1 Grey's Deb. 133. Order of the House of Commons, 1663, July 10.

Representatives" themselves from the single act of " arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, during their attendance at the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same, and from being questioned in any other place for any speech or debate in either House."-Const. U. 8., Art. I., Sec. 6. Under the general authority" to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers given them," Const. U. S., Art. II., Sec. 8, they may provide by law the details which may be necessary for giving full effect to the enjoyment of this privilege. No such law being as yet made it seems to stand at the present on the following ground : 1. The act of arrest is void ab initio, 2 Stra., 989. 2. The member arrested may be discharged on motion, 1 Bl. 166, 2 Stra. 990; or by Habeas Corpus under the Federal or State authority, as the case may be ; or a writ of privilege out of the Chancery, 2 Stra. 989, in those States which have adopted that part of the laws of England.-Orders of the House of Com. 1550, Feb. 20. 3. The arrest, being unlawful, is a trespass, for which the officer and others concerned are liable to action or indictment in the ordinary courts of justice, as in other cases of unauthorized arrests. 4. The court before which the process is returnable, is bound to act as in other cases of pauthorized proceeding, and liable, also, as in other similar cases, to have their proceedings stayed or corrected by the superior courts.

The time necessary for going to and returning from Congress not being defined, it will, of course, be judged of in every particular case by those who will have to decide the case.

While privilege was understood in England to extend, as it does here, only to exemption from arrest, eundo, morando et re deuudo, the House of Commons themselves, decided that “a convenient time was to be understood.”—1580-1 Hats., 99, 100. Nor is the law so strict in point of time as to require the party to set out immediately on his return, but allows him time to settle his private affairs and to prepare for his journey; and does not even scan his road very nicely, nor forfeit his protection for a little deviation from that which is most direct; some necessity perhaps constraining him to it.—2 Stra., 986, 987.

This privilege from arrest, privileges of course against all process, the disobedience to which is punishable by an attachment of the person; as a subpoena ad respondendum, or, testificandum, or a summons on a jury; and with reason, because a member has superior duty to perform in another place.

When a representative is withdrawn from his seat by summons, the 47,700 people whom he represents, lose their voice in debate and vote, as they do in his voluntary absence; when a senator is withdrawn by summons, his State loses half its voice in debate and vote, as it does in his voluntary absence. The enormous disparity of evil admits no comparison.

So far there will probably be no difference of opinion as to the privileges of the two Houses of Congress; but in the following cases it is otherwise : In Dec., 1795, the House of Representatives committed two persons of the names of Randall and Whitney, for attempting to corrupt the integrity of certain members, which they considered as a contempt and breach of the privileges of the House ; and the facts being proved, Whitney was detained in confinement a fortnight, and Randall three weeks, and was reprimanded by the Speaker. In March, 1796, the House of Representatives voted a challenge given to a member of their Ilouse, to be a breach of the privileges of the House ; but satisfactory apologies and acknowledgments being made, no further proceedings were had. The editor of the Aurora, having, in his paper of Feb. 19, 1800, inserted some paragraph defamatory to the Senate, and failed in his appearance, he was ordered to be committed. In debating the legality of this order, it was insisted in support of it, that every man, by the law of nature, and' every body of men, possesses the right of self defence ; that all public functionaries are essentially invested with the powers of self-preservation ; that they have an inherent right to do all acts necessary to keep themselves in a condition to discharge the trusts confided to them ; that whenever authorities are given, the means of carrying them into execution are given by necessary implication ; that thus we see the British Parliament exercise the right of punishing contempts : all the State Legislatures exercise the same power, and every Court does the same; that if we have it not, we sit at the mercy of every intruder who may enter our doors or gallery, and by noise and tumult, render proc ding in business impracticable ; that if our tranquility is to be perpetually disturbed by newspaper defamation, it will not be possible to exercise our functions with the requisite coolness and deliberation ; and that we must therefore have a power to punish those disturbers of our peace and proceedings. To this it was answered, that the Parliament and Courts of England have cognizance of contempts by the express provisions of their law; that the State Legislatures have equal authority, because their powers are plenary ; they represent their constituents completely, and possess all their powers, except such as their Constitutions have expressly denied them ; that the Courts of the several States have the same powers by the laws of their States, and those of the Federal Government by the same State laws, adopted in each State by a law of Congress ; that none of these bodies, therefore, derive those powers from natural or necessary right, but from express law; that Congress have no such natural or necessary power, nor any powers but such as are given them by the Constitution ; that that has given them directly, exemption from personal arrest, exemptions from questions elsewhere for what is said in the House, and power over their own members and proceedings; for these no further law is necessary, the Constitution being the law; that, moreover, by that article of the Constitution which authorizes them to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in them,” they may provide by law for an undisturbed exercise of their function, e.g., for the punishment of contempts, of affrays or tumults in their presence, etc., but, till the law be made, it does not exist ; and does not exist, from their own neglect ; that in the meantime, however, they are not unprotected, the ordinary magistrates and courts of law being open and competent to punish all unjustifiable disturbances or defamations, and even their own sergeant, who may appoint deputies ad libitum to aid him, 3 Grey, 59, 147, 255, is equal to the smallest disturbances; that in requiring a previous law, the Constitution had regard to the inviolability of the citizen as well as the member; as, should one House, in the regular form of a bill, aim at too broad privileges, it may be checked by the other, and both by the President ; and also as, the law being promulgated, the citizen will know how to avoid offence. But if one branch may assume its own privileges without control; if it may do it on the spur of the occasion, conceal the law in its own breast, and after the fact committed, make its sentence both the law and the judgment on that fact; if the offence is to be kept undefined, and to be de. clared only ex re natá, and according to the passions of the moment, and there be no limitation either in the manner or measure of the punishment, the condition of the citizen will be perilous indeed. Which of these doctrines is to prevail, time will decide. Where there is no fixed law, the judgment on any particular case, is the law of that single case only, and dies with it. When a new and even a similar case arises, the judgment which is to make, and at the same time apply, the law, is open to question and consideration, as are all new laws, Perhaps Congress, in the meantime, in their care for the safety of the citizen as well as that for their own protection, may declare by law what is necessary and proper to enable them to carry into execution the powers vested in them, and thereby hang up a rule for the inspection of all, which may direct the conduct of the citizens, and at the same time test the judg. ments they shall themselves pronounce in their own case.

Privilege from arrest takes place by force of the election; and before a return be made, a member elected may be named of a committee, and is to every intent a member, except that he cannot vote until he is sworn.- Memor., 107, 108.-D'Ewes, 642, col. 2; 653, col. 1.-Pet. Miscel. Parl. 119-Lex. Parl., c. 23—2 Hats., 22, 62.

Every man must, at his peril, take notice who are members of either House returned of Record.—Lex. Parl., 23, 4-Inst., 24.

On complaint of a breach of privilege, the party may either be summoned or sent for in custody of the sergeant.-1 Grey, 88. 95.

The privilege of a member is the privilege of the House. If the member waive it without leave, it is a ground for punishing him, but cannot in effect waive the privilege of the House.—3 Grey, 140, 322.

For any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.-.-Const. U. S., Art. I., Sec. 6,-S. P. protest of Commons to James I., 1621-2 Rapin, No. 54, p. 211, 212. But this is restrained to things done in the House in a Parliamentary course, 1 Rush., 663. For he is not to have privilege contra morem parlimentarium, to exceed the bounds and limits of his place and duty.—Comp. p.

If an offence be committed by a member in the House of which the House has cognizance, it is an infringement of their right for any person or court to take notice of it, till the House has punished the offender, or referred him to a due course.Lex. Parl. 63.

Privilege is in the power of the House, and is a restraint to the proceedings of inferior courts, but not of the House itself.-2 Nalson, 450—2 Grey, 399. For whatever is spoken in the House is subject to the censure of the House ; and offences of this kind have been severely punished, by calling the persons to the bar to make submission, committing him to the Tower, expelling the House, etc.—Scob. 72.--Lex. Parl. c. 22.

It is a breach of order for the Speaker to refuse to put a question which is in order.—2 Hats. 175, 176--5 Grey, 133.

And even in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace, to which privilege does not extend as to substance; yet in Parliament, a member is privileged as to the mode of proceeding. The case is first to be laid before the House, that it may judge of the fact, and of the grounds of the accusation, and how far forth the manner of the trial may concern their privilege. Otherwise it would be in the power of other branches of the government, and even of every private man, under pretences of treason, etc., to take any man from his service in the House; and so as many, one after another, as would make the House what he pleaseth.- Decision of the Commons on the King's declaring Sir John Hotham a traitor, 4 Rushw. 586. So when a member stood indicted of felony, it was adjudged that he ought to remain of the House till conviction. For it may be any man's case, who is guiltless, to be accused and indicted of felony, or the like crime.--23 El. 1850D'Ewes 283, vol. 1-Lex. Parl. 133.

When it is found necessary for the public service to put a member under arrest, or when, on any public inquiry, matter comes out which may lead to affect the person of a member, it is the practice immediately to acquaint the House, that they may know the reasons for such a proceeding, and take such steps as they think proper—2 Hats. 259. of which see many examples—2 Hats. 266, 257, 258. But the communication is subsequent to the arrest. 1 Blackst. 167.

It is highly expedient, says Hatsell, for the due preservation of the privileges of the separate branches of the Legislature, that neither should encroach on the other, or interfere in any matter depending before them, so as to preclude, or even influence, that freedom of debate, which is essential to a free council. They are therefore not to take notice of any bills or other matters depending, or of votes that have been given, or of speeches that have been held, by the members of either of the other branches of the Legislature, until the same have been communicated to them in the usual Parliamentary manner. -2 Hats. 252—4 Inst. 15-Seld. Jud. 53. Thus the King's taking notice of the bill for suppressing soldiers, depending before the House, his proposing a provisional clause for a bill before it was presented to him by the two Houses, bis expressing displeasure against some persons for matters moved in Parliament during the debate and preparation of a bill, were breaches of privilege.—2 Nalson, 743; and in 1783, December 17, it was declared a breach of fundamental privileges, etc., to report any opinion, or pretended opinion of the King, on any bill or proceeding depending in either House of Parliament, with a view to influence the votes of the members.—2 Hats. 251, 6.



The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may, at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing Senators.-Const. U. S., Art. I, Sec. 4.

Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.-Const. U.S., Art. I, Sec. 5.



The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

Immediately after they 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 be vacated at the end of the second year ; of the second class, at the expiration of the fourth year; and of the third, at the expiration oľ the sixth year; so that one-third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen, by resignation or otherwise, during the rece88 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 vacancies.

No person shall be a Senator, who shall not have attained to the age of tbirty 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. -Const. U. S., Art. I., Sec. 3.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States; and the electors of each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.

No person shall be a Representative, who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to serve for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such man. ner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand ; but each State shall have at least one Representative.-Const. . S., Art. I., Sec. 2.

« PředchozíPokračovat »