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sENATE.] - Power, of the Pice President. [Frb. 11, 1828,
manner, he felt himself bound to propose the same amend. pointed to revise the rules of the Senate ; one of the ment for the consideration of the Senate ; and should as meetings of which he did not attend. In relation, how. sign the reasons which induced him to offer that amend- ever, to the annendment proposed by the Senator from ment in the committee, and which he now felt it his duty Connecticut, it had, he believed, been rejected by the to urge before the Senate, in favor of its adoption. Sir, committee on the ground that there was no necessity that the Senator from Alabama has stated very correctly the a member should sit down when called to order, until the proceedings of the committee on the subject. The rules President decided whether he were in or out of order: of the Senate are few in number, embracing only the because, by such call, the President had already decid: cases in which the Senate have thought proper to depart ed that he was out of order. Perhaps the committee from the rules of proceeding in Jefferson's Manual, which were expected to express he opinion that they did not *R*. to have been adopted by consent, as their guide in deem it expedient for us to prescribe a rule to govern all their deliberations. The 6th and 7th rules of the Se- the President of this body, who is not an agent of, or nate, by the construction given by the present presiding amenable to this body, but elected by the People, and to effieer, have put it entirely out of the power of any per them only accountable. But he was of opinion that the son to call a Senator to order for words spoken, until the Constitution clearly vested the Vice President with the Senator shall have finished his speech. For, if the pre- power of preserving order in the proceedings of the Sc. siding officer has not the power, it exists in no one ; for nate, to be exercised in common with the individual mem. in Jefferson's Manual it is laid down explicitly, that “Of bers of the Senate. The very words of the Constitution fensive words are not to be noticed until the member has which provide that the Vice President shall preside over finished his speech, then they are to be written down.” the Senate, must mean something, or they must mean noIt appears from this, that these rules, instead of facilitat- thing. He was clearly of opinion that the Constitution ing the business, are only calculated to produce embar- gave to the presiding officer the power of calling a Se:
rassment ; and it is very evident that such has been their operation in relation to the case to which the Senator from Virginia, [Mr. Tazewell.] has alluded. And, sir, in my opinion, the rules should either be amended so as to recognize in the President the power to call to or. der, or that they should be expunged, and leave the Manual for our guide ; for, under that rule, it is made the duty of the presiding officer to call to order: for, in speaking of offensive words in debate, he says, “such proceedings Mr. Speaker ought to suppress.” It would seem from the 6th rule, as if it was not contemplated, that the President should call to order for words spoken, because the member is required to take his seat until the President decides whether he is in or out of order. And, if called to order by the President, it would seem unnecessary that he should take his seat to allow time for the IPresident to decide ; for the call to order would of course be a decision in the first instance. Sir, I am in favor of amending this rule in another respect. The President of the Senate is not elected by the Senate, and is not, of course, amenable to the Senate. But, sir, by the Constitution, we have the power of making our own rules of proceeding.—[Mr. F. here read from the Censtitution, which authorizes each House to determine the rules of its own proceedings.) This is the only security we have against an arbitrary exercise of power over our deliberations. Our rules should prescribe to the President his duties, and define his powers, as the presiding officer of the Senate ; and I am diposed so to amend them as to allow an appeal from every decision of the Chair. In this way, and in this only, can we ever be secure from an improper exercise of power. This security is given expressly by the Constitution. By this amendment the Senate will be placed in precisely the same situation, in relation to the powers of the presiding officer, as every other deliberative body and I cannot see any reasonable objection to it. These, sir, are my views in relation to this subject, and which induced me to offer the amendment; and I shall leave it to the sound discretion of the Senate to adopt or reject the amendment, feeling no solicitude about the result, but firmly believing cither that the amendment ought to be adopted, or the 6th and 7th ruses expunged, so as to relieve the presiding officer from embarrassment, and make it his duty (as it clearly would be without the rules) to call a Senator to order for “per onalities” or any improper language in debate. But, sir, it appears to me proper to have an appeal from his decision to the Senate ; otherwise, I cannot see how the Senate can determine or control their own deliberations as contemplated by the Constitution. Mr. RUGGLES was a member of the conmittee ap
nator to order when using improper or indecent language. | Such language, said Mr. R., may be used of the Presi. dent himself, and if there is no person to call the offender to order, he may go on to the greatest lengths. The dis. ference between the Senate and House of Representa. tives was this—there the Speaker was elected by the House, is the agent of that body, and, consequently, amenable to their authority. Here the case is different the presiding officer is elected by the People ; he, there: fore, did not believe that any appeal from his decision could be had. In conclusion, Mr. R. said that the power of preserving order in the Senate, he believed to be vested in the Vice President, and if the rules and practice of tlie Senate had not already conferred this power, that it ought to be done. Mr. MACON said that he thought the President ought not to call to order. He should sit in his seat to decide between the members, and he ought to be pure and un: biassed, like a Judge upon the Bench. Or, said Mr. M, suppose that he improperly calls to order, to whom art you to appeal He is to decide ; therefore he ought to keep aloof from the cause of complaint, and not be the originator of the call, so as to judge impartially between the opposite parties. He had rather leave it so, than alter it. Mr. FOOT perfectly agreed with the Senator from Ohio, with the exception as to the operation of the rules, and he mist say, that, if the rules had any effect, the Pre|...} officer had not the power to call a Senator to or. der for words spoken in debate. Under the Parliament. ary rule he had, but under that rule the member was not to be called to order until he had finished his speech. If then, the presiding officer had not the power, and the Senators had not the power of calling to order for offensive words spoken, the offending member might go on to any extent. His vicw of the subject was, that the rules should be so altered, that a member using improper ho guage may be called to order, and by the presiding to cer while speaking. Mr. KING here read the 6th and 7th Rules, and com: mented on the effect of the amendment, as proposed by Mr. FOOT. If you give, said Mr. K., this power to the Vice President, you clothe him with the most tremen. dous and dangerous power ; a power no less than that 9 putting an end to J. to gag a member when th; course of debate is not consonant to his wishes or his feelings. He would suppose that the Vice President who connected, either by interest, or by inclination, with those in the administration of the Government, he would then have the power to put a member down the moment he discussed a subject that he did not wash to go abroad Feb. 11, 1828.]
Powers of the Vice President.
to the People—a power, which, if he chose to exercise
it, would make him the veriest tyrant in existence. It is not necessary, said Mr. K., to enable us to carry on the business of the Senate with regularity and decorum, to give any such power. He had no idea of subjecting the i.edom of debate to the control of any one individual. Whatever confidence he might have in the present presiding officer, still the time might arrive when this power, if now given, would be . dangerous hands. He hoped the amendment would not prevail. He repeated, he had every confidence in the impartiality and correctness of the decisions of the present presiding officer, but he wished to guard against any possible contingency. Mr. DICKERSON said, it was certain that any member of the Senate had a right to call another to order for words spoken in debate, however inoffensive those words might be ; and he considered it equally certain that the President might call to order for words spoken in debate, when those words might be an outrage upon the decorum of the Senate. It is the duty of the presiding officer to preserve order. The power to do this must be an inherent one, without which, the duty could not be perform. ed, and the officer could not preside. He has, and must have, so much power as to preserve decorum in the Seote, that the business may proceed without interruption. Two years ago, when two Senators, by the violence of their remarks upon each other, totally interrupted the boness of the Senate, they were called to order by a * Senator, who was directed to reduce the words to witug, this he refused to do, as it was no concern of his. It was not absolutely necessary to vest the President with power to call to order for words or acts not immedi. ately interfering with the decorum of the Senate. But, to give him the power to call to order for words in all costs where a Senator can call to order, would not make him more formidable than he now is. He can now, upon the call of any one Senator to order, decide the question without appeal. There will always be at least one senator wing to aid the views of the President, if he wishes to tiercise this power. Mr. D. had no objection to increase the power of the Posident, but not so far as to permit him to restrain the kode of debate. , No member of this body should wil. holy submit to such restraint. Every one should adhere to his right of commenting most freely upon the Admi. oration, Heads of 1)epartments, or Officers of the Gowoment. It is better that this privilege should be abu*d, than arbitrarily restrained. If, in the course of de**, a Senator deems it important to animadvert freely on the characters or conduct of the living or the dead, *oght not to be restrained by the presiding officer. Mr. F00T here called the attention of the gentleman he words of the Manual. It is said there, decidedly, * a member cannot be called to order for words spoken, * he has finished his speech. But it would be observ. out such provision gave no possibility of remedy. **ght the power ought to be vested either in the ors or the President to call to order during debate. * WAN BUREN said that he did not conceive that * office conferred the right to call to order, if the *cts of the Vice President were derived from the '*itution, as nobody doubted, he knew of no sanction * power, either in cases of irrelevancy or impropri. of speech. The only express power granted by the *ution was that of giving the casting vote. This onent went to give him another power not contem*d by the Constitution. On the contrary, the consti* has given the right to the two Houses to make Refer the governinent of their own members, and for otection of their presiding officers. He thought the ** a dangerous one to place in the hands of the vice out it was never tolerated, and it was never in. * to be, that a member should be put down because
of the manner in which he chose to present his views or defend his principles. Yet this might happen, under the discretion which would be given by this amendment. As to the individuals of the Senate, he could not believe that the time would ever come, when they would be so forgetful of their own dignity, and that of the body, as not to call to order any member who should overstep the bounds of decorum. He was satisfied with the rule as it was ; and was, therefore, opposed to the amendment. Mr. BENTON was opposed to the accumulation of unnecessary power in irresponsible hands, and of that character he conceived the present motion to be. Every Senator had now the right to call to order, and certainly forty-seven Senators were enough to watch one. It could not be necessary to increase the number to forty-eight, by adding the Vice President, who is in no way responsible to us. We do not elect him, and we cannot displace him, except by an impeachment, which must be instituted in the other House. Nor is it safe to vest the power of restraining debates in an officer like him, not concerned in the debate, and not responsible to us for the exercise of his power. He may abuse this power, and we are without remedy. The power of stopping a mem. ber in debate—of making him sit down and proceed in another manner, or not proceed at all, is a power of high import. The feelings of the Senator may be deeply wounded by it, but that is a trifle compared with the injury which may be done to his constituents. A debate, vital to their liberties, might be stopped and terminated, under the pretence of confining the Speaker to a particular question ; and the injury would be without remedy. The Vice President holds his office independent of the will of the body over which he presides, and in that respect, differs from the speaker of the House of Representatives, and all other presiding officers to which he has been likened. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is responsible to the body over which he presides. They make, and they can unmake him, and he is vested with powers by the rules of the House, which the Senate have never conferred upon the President of this body. But the principle involved in this question has already been decided upon, and acted on for two years : I allude to the appointment of Committees taken away from the President of this body because he was not i esponsible to us, and retaincti in our own hands, although it was universally acknowledged that the power had been well exercised. The admission is general, if not unanimous, that you, Sir, had exercised this power discreetly and unexceptionably—no objection was taken to your conduct—it was conceded all round that it was a power of a nature to be better exercised by a presiding officer than by the Senate at large ; but, because you were not one of us, not created by us, nor responsible to us, this power was taken out of your hands. I see no difference in the principle of the two cases, and there shall be no difference in my conduct upon them. I voted to take the appointing power over Committees out of your hands, because you were not one of us, and l oppose your right to stop me in debate, for a real or supposed latitude of expression, for the same reason. Allusion has been nade, Sir, to past scenes in this Chamber, when a Senator, not now a member of this body—one whom. I am proud to say, honors me with the name of friend, [Mr. RAN pooru,J--has been supposed to transcend the freedom of debate, and you, Sir, were censured for permitting it. . According to the opinion which you then expressed, and which I concur in, you had no power to call to order for that cause, and the present notion goes upon that idea, otherwise it would not be necessary now to confer this power. That you were right in your decision, is strongly to be inferred, from the
fact, that of forty-seven Senators having the undoubted right to cah to order on these occasions, no one did its
sENATE.] Powers of the Vice President. [Feb. 11, 1828,
and if those, whose rights were unquestionable, did not in the Chair, he was not now called upon, nor did he in. act, it certainly was excusable in you, whose authority tend to express an opinion. His purpose was to speak was at least doubtful, to follow their example. One thing to the principles which he thought governed the subject, is certain ; if you erred, you erred on the side of liberty, and not to pass upon the proper application of those prim. not of authority ; and the rarity of this kind of errors, ciples to any particular person or subject. This was not by those in power, should give them a claim to our re- the time or the occasion to discuss that question. spect, when they do occur. But I do not admit there | He denied that the Constitution restrained the power was an error, nor do I rest the vindication of my friend of the Senate to adopt the rule proposed by the honorable upon presumptions and inferences derivable from our gentleman from Connecticut, [Mr. Foot.] The Consti. own conduct. I take higher ground, and say that nothing |tution says, in the 3d Section of the 1st Article, “The which we ever heard from that gentleman on this floor, Vice President of the United States shall be President of in reference to our President and his Secretaries, exceed- the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equal. ed in severity and violence what is said with impunity in ly divided.” The scetion does not proceed to enumerate the British Parliament, by Commoners as well as Peers, the functions which, as President of the Senate, he shall of their King and his Ministers. perform. A presiding officer of a deliberative legisla. I have some acquaintance with the debates of the Bri- |tive body, has a known duty, and when he is designated tish Parliament—not so much as I ought to have—but as such officer, the duty of performing the appropriate enough to bear me out in the assertion, that the King and functions is plainly signified. The vote which is refused his Ministers have been often animadverted upon, in both to him, except on equal division, has reference to his par. Houses of Parliament, with a degree of severity which ticipation on subjects of ordinary legislation, not to the the gentleman alluded to, never transcended on this floor, observance of order. There was no such thing as a vote in any thing which he said of our President and his Min-jinplied in the matter of calling a member to order, and isters.” I speak of what has occurred in the British Par- he presumed the honorable gentleman who had referred liament in times of order and subordination, when the to his expression with emphasis, did not rely on the effect Speakers were men of the first weight and dignity of of this prohibition to vote. character, and when no one called them to order; and I | In the 5th Section of the same article, the Constitution must be permitted to say, that it argues badly for the spi- says, “Each House may determine the rules of its prorit of the times in our country, that it is an evil omen for ceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavious, our republican institutions, if American Senators cannot and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” be as free with their President and Secretaries, as British | Here again there is no enumeration of the particular acts subjects may be with their monarch and his prime minis- which will constitute the guilt of disorderly behaviour, ters. But this reproach, Sir, does not lie at your door. subjecting its author to punishment and expulsion. There By your decision, you prevented the stain from sticking to is no enumeration of the particular rules or orders rela!. your skirts. That you were right, I then believed, and |ing to the proceedings of the body which it has authority still believe. Even upon a critical construction of our to determine. The language used is to be taken in re. own rules, leaving out the enlarged considerations which ference to the context, and where it had received an in governed you, your decision will stand the test of the telligible import before its adoption into the Constitution, severest scrutiny. Those rules only give you a power to the meaning is to be found by ascertaining what that was decide after the question of order is raised and placed be. Such rules as usually obtain in legislation may be adopt. fore you. When a member is called to order, his words ed, and such conduct as the usages of legislative bodies shall be taken down in writing, and the President shall consider disorderly may be punished. decide. This is the rule. Now why reduce to writing, The notions which had been received by the framers except to inform the President of the words excepted of our Constitution in relation to Congressional rule, had to And why inform him if he already knows them been borrowed very much from the British House of Com: And why make another decision, if he had already de- mons. The rules of Parliament, he believed, had been cided in the fact of calling to order The words and the general standard to which had been referred all ques. the spirit of the rule go upon the idea, that one member |tions of this character in the Old Congress, and in all the is to accuse another of disorder, and that you, as a disin- State Legislatures. In all these bodies, he believed the terested and impartial arbiter, are to decide between them. presiding officer executed the duty of preserving proper This is unsavorable to the spirit of our institution, which order. He did not mean to include the House of Lords, forcver separates the functions of the judge and accuser, because the honorable gentleman fron North Carolina, and so may they remain on this floor as every where else. [Mr. Macon,] had said, the presiding officer there did not Mr. CHAMBERS said, as he did not concur in the views use the power. At a very early period the Senate exer. which had been expressed, he deemed it proper to state cised the power thus given to it. They did pass certain the reasons for his vote. rules, and they imposed certain duties on the President, with regard to the correctness of any former decision being such as are usually imposed by other legislative bo.
Fis 11, 1828.]
ticularly enumerated in the Constitution.
is on a presiding officer, but certainly such are not parMr. C. said, he thought it is quite manifest from the work of Mr. Jef.
setson, which he held in his hand, that he did not feel any
doubt about the Constitutional power of the Senate. Mr. kerson had an intimate connexion with the Governmen, almost from the first essay towards our indepen
dance, to the termination of his i'residency; and he was
of all men the least likely to extend the powers granted by the Constitution to any branch of the General GovernTest. In the preface to his Manual, prepared during the time he was Vice President, for the express purpose of aiding and informing the Senate in their proceedings, after noticing the grant of his power, he remarks : “The Senate have accordingly formed some rules for its own govern;Lent, but those going only to few cases, they have referled to the decision of their President, without debate and without appeal, all questions of order arising under their own rules, or where they have provided none.” In the section treating of the “order of debate,” a variety of instances are furnished, which are violations of this order, and we are told, Qui digreditur a materia ad personam, Mr. Speaker ought to suppress. Mr. Jefferson, pursu: in; his system of collocation, then adverts to the rules of the Senate. These rules do not designate the individual by whom a discrderly member is to be called to order, but Mr. Jefferson does not suggest that there is any diversoy between the practice of the Senate and the House of Commons. The gentleman from Missouri, Mr. [BKN rex] his called to his aid the proceeding of this body in rela. tion to the change in the mode of selecting the standing committees. He says the power of appointing the committees was taken from the President, because the Contution being the only source of his power, the Senate cannot confer other powers upon him. The honorable tentleman, no doubt, expresses the motives which influord his vote on that occasion, but he certainly had ento misconceived those of some others who advocated otchange. Mr. C. begged leave to say for himself (and he believto he might say so for some others) that no apprehension of constitutional difficulty had influenced his vote. From to peculiar organization of this body, it might occur that the President of the Senate should differ from the majori§ of its members, on great and important questions of naonal concern. The object of confiding subjects to our committees, is to facilitate the means of digesting princio, collecting information, and presenting views in realon to matters on which we are to act. A committee *in the character of an agent to the body at large. He not only held it proper that the majority of the Senate should be represented on the important Commit. * but it was perfectly suicidal to adopt a different **. It was the right of the majority to have the Com*of their own political complexion, and in the pecu*imation of this body the only mode by which this *śt can be secured is to give the appointment immedi. * to the Senate. In any other event the reports of * committees will be carried abroad to produce im*sons on the public mind directly at variance with of own opinions; the great labor of your agents will be "ounteract your own deliberate purposes. He did not wish to be undersood as alluding to the *od when the change was made as the season when **ale of things had been witnessed. The possibility **o-currence required provision to meet it, and form*::ficient inducement for the vote he then gave. The constitution, therefore, had nothing to do with the *tion farther than it had constituted the Vice Presiof the presiding officer of this body, and thereby gave *the power properly belonging to such an officer, sub
ject to the control usually exercised by legislative bodies in the shape of rules of proceeding. It was, therefore, a question of expediency alone, whether the President of the Senate should have the power to preserve order and decorum in this body. If it were not for the occurrences which have taken place, he should not have thought the Senate now called upon to act on this subject. It had been the opinion of most persons, he believed, that such power existed with the President. But on a late occasion the President has said he did not think he had the power—the rules of the Senate had been committed to a special committee for revision, and the Chairman, who reports the rules without alteration, as to this subject, in answer to a question touching this precise point, has said, the committee are unanimous in the opinion that there is no such power in the President, and several members rise and sanction the same doctrine. If then, the rules of the Senate should remain unchang. ed, it must be received as the judgment of the Senate, that such powers do not belong to the President, and ought not to be exercised by him. Mr. C. expressed his surprise that any gentleman on this floor should doubt of the propriety, or indeed the necessity, of there being such a power in the Chair. He should not allude to the unpleasant occurrence on this floor, two years ago, which had been referred to, except for the purpose #. the remark made hy the honor. able gentleman from New Jersey, [Mr. Dickenson.] That gentleman had informed us that an honorable mem. ber oft. Senate who had moved the question of order, had refused to reduce the objectionable words to writing. That was not the only occasion on which the Senate had witnessed a refusal to take down words objected to as out of order. It might be so ; but he did not know that there had been an instance in which disorderly words were taken down in compliance with the rule. And who would consent to make a record of words which were offensive * The practice he understood was supposed to require that when taken down, the words were to be put upon the Journal. If, therefore, the most defamatory charge against an honorable member of this House be made by another member, the preliminary step towards redress is to cause a record of that charge to be made, which will for ever perpetuate the recollection of the charge. No individual could submit to this course, nor would he, when he was the victim of aspersion, be instrumental him. self, or allow his friend to be instrumental in handing down the evidence of the charge. And what are the reasons, asked Mr. C. urged against the adoption of the rule, as a measure of expediency * We are told that it places a power in the Chair, which may be used oppressively, and may arrest the latitude of debate: It is called a tremendous, a dangerous power. The whole argument on this point seemed to him full of error and mistake. On questions involving the political character of public men, there never had been, he believed, and God forbid there ever should be, a disposition to restrain debate. The people of this country had a right to know every thing touching the political conduct and character of our rulers, and no man or set of men on this floor, would ever dare to invade that right. The rule proposed did not touch that question. Freedom of debate was secured by a power superior to any rule of the Senate. To indulge it was no violation of order ; and therefore not within the rule which restrained disorderly conduct, How then, stands the matter of oppressive power in the Chair'...The amendment proposed will make it the duty of the Chair to cause order to be observed ; it will submit to his discretion primarily, the question of what is or is not order ; but if he should ever exert that discretion unwise. ly or oppressively, an appeal can be had to the Senate, and his decision may be reversed, and the character and
Powers of the
Tice President. [Fen. 11, 1828.
responsibility of a majority of the Senate are the pledges by which every member claims his rights. How is it, under the construction now given to the existing rule One individual may suggest a violation of order, invoke the authority of the Chair, and the occupant of that Chair, by this single fiat, may arrest the debate. His sole judgment, absolute and irreversible, is the standard by which every member here must measure his steps. In the one case, the tenure by which we hold our rights, is the intelligence, the discretion, and the responsi. bility of a majority of ourselves ; and, in the other, the intelligence, the discretion, and the responsibility of one individual, not deriving his authority from us, and requiring it to be called into action only by the suggestion of an individual member. It appeared to him the argument was most strangely misapplied by the honorable gentleman who had used it, and the very apprehension to which they had yielded had driven him to the most decided conviction of the necessity of the proposed amendment. Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, said, it was the duty of the Vice President, as presiding officer of the Senate, to decide agreeably to such rules and regulations as shall have been made for his guidance. In the House of Representatives the presiding officer had the power of calling a member to order “for words spoken,” because he was one of their own body, elected by themselves to preside over them, and amenable to their authority. If his deci. sions are unsatisfactory, they can refuse to re-clect him— but we, Sir, have no such power. Our presiding officer is not elected by us—he is sent here by the People of the United States, and totally independent of us. Mr. S. was not willing to vest either the Vice President or President pro tem. with the power to stop debate. It is a tremendous power—I have felt it, Sir, and never shall forget it. On a certain occasion, in the other House, a report was presented from one of the Secretaries, which animadvert. ed very severely on Mr. Gerry. I undertook to animadvert on the report, and was called to order. Unconscious that I had travelled out of the record, I proceeded, and was three times called to order. I then inquired why I was considered to be out of order -–and was told, by the Speaker, that the report upon which l had animadverted must not be considered the report of the Secretary, but of the President of the United States. That I could not proceed : for, before the discussion commenced, I had been called out of my seat, and told, by a person high in office, that the President requested that the report might not be considered as his, but as the report of the Secretary of State. Mr. President, I am unwilling to be pla. ced in this body, differently constituted as it is from the other, in such a situation as I then was, to be stopped in the course of my argument. There were high party times then, and high party times may come again, and, whenever they do, similar outrage may (with such a power) be committed. And where will be the remedy ? Gentlemen say, in the appeal from the decision of the President. An appeal My experience has taught me to know that an appeal is not worth a button. The majority will always support the Chair, right or wrong. An appeal was taken in the case I have mentioned, and the majority voted with the Speaker, and always will. An appeal from the Chair is voz et preteria nihil. I would rather be without the appeal. A gentlemán has said that he will vote for the amendment, to justify you for the decision you had made on the rule. Sir, you require no justification—you decided agreeably to the rules prescribed for your government, and would not have been authorized to have given any other decision. I hope, Mr. President, that the rule will not be changed. Mr. McLANE commenced his remarks with an apology
he had so recently taken his seat, on a subject relating to their rules and orders. The amendment appeared to him directly to involve the power of the Vice President to call a Senator to order, and prevent him from speak. ing, for words spoken in debate. He had considered that subject, and was of opinion that the Vice President did not possess such power, independent of or according to the existing rules of the Senate, and was unwilling to confer such power by any alteration of the rules. The amendment, by its turns, concedes, and the mover, with a commendable spirit of candor, admits, that, by the existing rules, the power in question cannot be exercised by the Vice President ; and so far as this admission may be entitled to weight, it would place the proposed change on grounds of o merely ; but the argument of gentlemen had taken a wider scope, had asserted bolder claims to power, and had invested the Vice President with authority to stop a Senator in debate, and arrest discussion for the use of words which he might deem irrelevant or disorderly. A power of such magnitude, so vital to the dearest pri. vileges of the members of this body, has been supposed, by at least one Senator, inherent in the Vice President, as incident to his office as presiding officer of the Senate under the Constitution, or derived from the rules contain. ed in Mr. Jefferson’s “Manual of Parliamentary Prac. tice.” He denied these assertions altogether, which he considered dangerous in principle, and thought “Wo: fectly plain, that the law of the English Parliament could have no force on the proceedings of the Senate, much less that they could control the privilege of debate. That the Vice President was not a member of the Se: nate ; that he was placed here, not by the body itself, but by the People of the United States, under the Con, stitution, which, by specifying certain of his powers and limiting their extent, by a fair implication excluded all others, had already been sufficiently adverted to. We would press them no farther than to remark, that it thence appeared to him perfectly clear that the Constitu. tion could not have designed to subject the Senate to the administration of an officer, without other rule than his arbitrary will, and irresponsible to those who might be. come the objects of his oppression. It might be fairly presumed, he said, if it had not been expressly provided, that an authority (hus conferred would be liable to the regulation of those on whom it was to be exerted, orhe doctrine of inherent or incidental power, [Mr. McL. said,) was every where the offspring of urgent no cessity, and belonged to no functions in this Government, unless indispensable to its existence: . In regard to the right in question, there certainly could be no pretence for such necessity. - If the vice President possessed the power as inciden: to his office, it would be the gift of the Constitution, and as such transcend the authority of the Senate. There could be no limit to such power, but the arbitrary willo the presiding officer. The Senate could subject it to ho control; they could neither prescribe rules of order, no the circumstances under which their debates might be ". terrupted ; and would thus be subjected to a domino which he believed no gentleman had seriously contem: plated. Of the privileges of the Senate, that of freely discussing the various subjects of their deliberations, was the dearest, intimately interwoven with the structure of that body. He considered the freedom of speech here, as so cred as that of the press elsewhere ; and if the combined power of congress and the Executive be incompetent, " ine believed it was, to abridge the freedom of either, be yond these walls, he could not admit a power incident to the Vice President to regulate the former, on this floor IIe could conceive of no right more clearly incident to the Senate, than that of free discussion, withotit which its de
for obtruding his sentiments upon the Senate, in which