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half the Senate went out each year; with biennials, this was changed to half each two years. California's course has been likewise. Half the Senators of Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, go out each two years. Half the West Virginia Senate went out each year until biennials came, and since then it has been half each two years. Nevada began by having half her Senators go out each two years, but dropped the plan.
At least three times Vermont has refused to make her Senate continuous, part of the Senators to go out at a time, the proposal being rejected twice by Conventions after recommendation by the Council of Censors, and once by the Legislature.
Under the programme recommended by the Bryce Conference for England, the members of the second chamber would be elected for terms of twelve years, one third to retire every four years. The twelve-year term appealed to those who drafted the Constitution for the Irish Free State, but they excepted the university members, who are to be chosen for six years, and they preferred that one half of the university members and one quarter of the others should retire every three years. This means that, assuming no dissolutions, there will be election of Deputies and Senators at the same time only once in twelve years. As but a quarter or so of the Senators will then be exposed to the passing gale, reasonable stability seems to be assured. In Chile and the Commonwealth of Australia one half of the Senators retire every three years; in France, the Netherlands, Argentina, and Brazil, one third. The Egyptian Senate will respond even less slowly to changes in public opinion, for one half of its members are to retire only every five years.
Continuity in the upper branch has generally been viewed as a desirable check on hasty, ill-considered reversal of governmental policy. Calm observers of our public life would undoubtedly agree that on the whole this has been found advantageous, but it must be admitted that there is another side to the question. It is charged that occasionally upper Houses get too far out of harmony with the popular will. Sweden has a remedy. There the King may dissolve the upper House, thus compelling new choice of the entire membership at one time. The Crown made one of the rare uses of this prerogative in the summer of 1919, because of the opposition of the upper House to the eight-hour day. The result was a reduction of the number of Conservatives from 86 to 39, an increase of the Social-Democrats from 19 to 48, and changes in other group representation which made the Chamber far more liberal. No elections were held for the lower House, where a coalition of Liberals and Social-Democrats already controlled. Thus the two branches were brought into the accord necessary for the complete support of a Ministry.
DETERMINING the membership of the upper House is a matter on which both opinion and practice widely differ, and there is likely to be much more of experiment before the wise course is elear. Hereditary membership, after the test of centuries in the English House of Lords, has run afoul of democratic tendencies that bid fair to work its undoing. When our fathers came to the making of Constitutions, they would have none of it. Three of the New England colonies had been wont to elect their upper Houses, and the practice was so in accord with the spirit of the times that naturally it was put into the various Constitutions. Judgments varied only as to the manner of election. As a rule direct vote by the people won preference, but there were exceptions. New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Maryland of the original States preferred indirect election at the start, and Kentucky imitated Maryland for seven years.
Direct election of Senators came to be universal in the States long before it won enough support to secure substitution in the Federal Constitution for the system of choice by Legislatures that had commended itself to the Convention of 1787. De Tocqueville thought the superiority of the Federal Senate due to the manner of its selection. “Men who are chosen in this manner,” he wrote, “accurately represent the majority of the nation which governs them; but they represent the elevated thoughts which are current in the community, the general propensities which prompt its nobler actions, rather than the petty passions which disturb, or the vices which disgrace it."
Note the singular failure of prophecy in what he went on to say: “The time may be already anticipated at which the American republics will be obliged to introduce the plan of election by an elected body more frequently into their system of representation, or they will incur no small risk of perishing miserably among the shoals of democracy.” On the contrary, we have dispensed with that plan and there are no signs of our perishing miserably. The fight was long and at times bitter. Public sentiment, of course, first found its expression in the House of Representatives rather than in the body assailed. Six times between 1893 and 1911 the lower branch passed the necessary resolution by overwhelming majorities, but until 1911 it was never allowed to come to a vote in the Senate. Then it was at first defeated, but four months later (June 12) it was approved, 64 to 24. So strong was the tide of public sentiment that inside of two years the necessary three quarters of the State Legislatures had ratified the amendment, and in May of 1913 it took effect.
The Senators of France are chosen indirectly. They number three hundred. Three quarters of them are chosen for terms of nine years by electoral colleges in the Departments, each consisting of the deputies, councilors-general, and district councilors (members of the councils for local government), and representatives from the municipal council of every commune, the last-named class forming a large majority. The other quarter were under the organic law of 1875 to be elected for life, at first by the National Assembly, and then vacancies to be filled by elections for life by the Senate itself. In 1884 more democratic ideas prevailed and provision was made for the gradual disappearance of the life elass. The last of its number died in 1918.
Austria, copying in general outline the federal plan of the United States when framing its Constitution in 1920, preferred our old system of indirect election of members of the upper branch by the legislative bodies of the various States. Ireland decided to try something new - a combination of the direct and indirect principles. Although the people, voting at large, are to elect, it is to be from a panel of three times as many as are to be chosen, two thirds nominated by the lower branch of Parliament and one third by the upper, together with retiring and former Senators wishing to be candidates. Direct election was preferred by Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. All three make the unusual provision that youth shall have no part in the choice of Senators, Ireland and Poland restricting the electorate therefor to citizens thirty years old or more, and Czecho-Slovakia to those at least twenty-six years of age.
Methods of choosing the members of the second chamber in England were thoroughly considered by the Conference, appointed by the Prime Minister in 1917, to study reform of the House of Lords. This Conference, headed by Viscount Bryce and comprising thirty of the most thoughtful and experienced public men of the country, after nearly fifty sittings and six months of discussion, made in April of 1918 a report of great interest and significance. Direct election was rejected because, if a second chamber had a "mandate" from the people equal to that of the House of Commons, the second chamber would be likely to claim equal financial powers, and tend to fall into conflict with that principle of the Constitution which assigns to the Commons the function of making and unmaking Administrations. Ministers would have two masters to serve and to fear. The second chamber would be little more than a duplicate of the House of Commons, and might either, as being the less attractive body, come to be composed mainly of the surplus material of the latter, or (alternatively) by the longer tenure of its members become ultimately the more attractive, possibly the more influential legislative body. With the large constituencies necessary for a comparatively small chamber, the expense of election would be heavier, and thus an advantage would be given to wealthy candidates.
Also election by local authorities failed to win approval. It was argued that if the county and borough councils, grouped in local areas of suitable size, were to choose, party politics would certainly be brought into the selection of those councils hitherto elected on non-partisan lines, and the party spirit would be intensified where in mild form it already existed, which would prove a misfortune.
Another plan was that of placing the selection in the hands of some weighty, impartial, and independent authority, such as a joint standing committee drawn in equal or nearly equal numbers from both Houses of Parliament. This proposal found considerable support in the Conference, but the majority thought it essential to provide a broader basis for the second chamber, so that it should be as far as possible a representative body. This basis they found in election by the Parliament itself. So they recommended that the House of Commons should be divided into groups territorially, twelve for England and Wales, one for Scotland, the matter of Irish allotment being postponed. By the single transferable vote method of proportional representation each group should elect a number of members of the second chamber proportionate to the population of the areas represented. However, this was to provide