ZeraLand, USA

On the Nature of "Nation"

Constitution of the United States – Article I sec 3

Section 3 deals with the composition of the Senate:

Section 3

(clause 1)

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.

Where the House represents each State according to its population, the Senate represents the States on an equal basis. This keeps the more populous states from drowning the voice of the less populous states.

Senators are also elected for a longer term than Representatives. This allows for the greater accumulation of experience among Senators. More expertise is asked and expected of them.

With equal representation between states, and being chosen by the state Legislature, Senators are apparently intended to be the professionals of Congress and represent their states at the governmental level rather than directly represent the citizens.

(clause 2)

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 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, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess 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.

Senators are divided into three classes, which are elected for overlapping terms. This allows for greater stability in the Senate than might be realized in the House.

(clause 3)

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty 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.

Someone cannot be a Senator unless they:

  • have attained at least thirty years of age; and
  • have been a citizen of the United States for at least nine years; and
  • are, at the time of election, a resident in the state in which elected

As with the Representatives, the double-negative means that this is not an exhaustive list of qualifications. Other requirements can be added, but these must also be met. The minimum age for a Senator is higher, and the minimum time as a Citizen is longer. The higher standards for a Senator implies that the Senate is intended to be a more deliberative and far-sighted forum.

(clause 4)

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

This is the Vice President’s only constitutionally defined responsibility.

(clause 5)

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

Like the House of Representatives, the Members of the Senate organize their own internal bureaucratic structure, other than President of the Senate. Notice that the constitution assumes that the Vice President will be absent from his roll as President of the Senate. The President pro tempore is not listed as a formal officer of the Senate, but is described as an ad hoc position.

(clause 6)

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

The power of impeachment is divided between the House and the Senate, creating a check on that authority. The House can make the charges, but cannot prosecute them. The Senate can prosecute only the charges made by the House.

For trying impeachments, there is a requirement for an oath above and beyond the oath of office.

When the President is impeached, the third branch of government gets involved. I assume this is as a further check on partisan politics controlling the case.

(clause 7)

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Public officials and public servants enjoy a degree of immunity from prosecution, called “Governmental Tort Immunity” or “Sovereign Immunity“. Under this clause, Impeachment accomplishes two things:

  • It strips the convicted party of sovereign immunity.
  • It bans the convicted party from any kind of future public service.

After a successful impeachment, the party is subject to the usual process of prosecution under civil and criminal law.

<= Article I, sec 2
Article I, sec 4 =>


September 1, 2011 - Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , ,

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