Constitution of the United States – Article I Sec 2
Section 2 deals with the composition of the House of Representatives:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
Suffrage (voter eligibility) for electing a Member of the House of Representatives is the same as eligibility for voting to elect a member of the equivalent state chamber. In other words, the states determine voter eligibility for electing a Representative. Representatives have two-year terms.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
I admit that when I got to the second “who shall not”, I got lost in the double-negatives for a moment. I even went back to the image of the written document to verify the wording. The tautology can be tricky, so in plainer wording:
Someone cannot be a Representative unless they:
- have attained at least twenty-five years of age; and
- have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years; and
- are, at the time of election, a resident in the state in which elected
Besides a bit of confusion, another consequence of the double-negative is that this is not an exhaustive list of qualifications. Other requirements can be added, but these must also be met. For example: if a state decided that its representatives must have resided in the state at least ten years, or be a landowner, it would not violate this clause.
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 Service 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 Manner 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; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
I will defer comment on the part that was amended, in favor of commenting on the amendment, and skip the part that is obsolete. That still leaves us with some important mandates:
- Every Representative must represent at least 30,000 state residents.
- Every state gets at least one Representative, regardless of the 30,000 minimum.
- The requirement for a decennial (every ten years) enumeration (census) of the population, and a law to define how to do it.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The Governor of a state is required to call an election to select a replacement for any vacancy in that state’s delegation to the federal House of Representatives. Clearly, without allowance for appointment or a college of electors, the Representatives are intended to directly represent the people, with people being as equally represented as practicable.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
The Members of the House of Representatives organizes its own internal bureaucratic structure.
Articles of Impeachment must originate in the House of Representatives.
A process that is used to charge, try, and remove public officials for misconduct while in office. Impeachment is a fundamental constitutional power belonging to Congress. This safeguard against corruption can be initiated against federal officeholders from the lowest cabinet member, all the way up to the president and the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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