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by their own members; but in the case of Anderson, who was committed by order of the house of representatives, for a contempt of the house, and taken into custody by the serjeant at arms, an action of trespass was brought against the officer, and the question on the power of the house to commit for a contempt, was carried by writ of error to the Supreme Court of the United States. The court decided, that the house had that power, and that it was an implied power, and of vital importance to the safety, character, and dignity of the house. The necessity of its existence and exercise, was founded on the principle of self-preservation; and the power to punish extends no further than imprisonment, and that will continue no longer than the duration of the power that imprisons. The imprisonment will terminate with the adjournment or dissolution of Congress.
The house of representatives has the exclusive right of originating all bills for raising revenue, and this is the only privilege that house enjoys in its legislative character, which is not shared equally by the other; and even those bills are amendable by the senate in its discretion. The two houses are an entire and perfect check upon each other, in all business appertaining to legislation; and one of them cannot even adjourn, during the session of Congress, for more than three days, without the consent of the other, nor to any other place than that in which the two houses shall be sitting
The powers of congress extend generally to all subjects of a national nature. Many of those powers will hereafter become the subject of particular observation and criticism. At present, it will be sufficient to observe, generally, that congress are authorized to provide for the common defence and general welfare, and for that purpose, among other express grants, they are authorized to lay and collect taxes,
a Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheaton, 204.
C Art, 1. sec. 8.
b Art. 1, sec, 7.
duties, imposts, and excises ;-to borrow money on the credit of the United States ;—to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes ;-to declare war, and define and punish offences against the law of nations ;-to raise, maintain, and govern armies, and a navy ;-to organize, arm, and discipline the militia ;-and to give full efficacy to all the powers contained in the constitution. Some of these powers, as the levying of taxes, duties, and excises, are concurrent with similar powers in the several states; but in most cases, these powers are exclusive, because the concurrent exercise of them by the states separately, would disturb the general harmony and peace, and because they would be apt to be repugnant to each other in practice, and lead to dangerous collisions. The powers which are conferred upon Congress, and the prohibitions which are imposed upon the states, would seem, upon a fair and just construction of them, to be indispensable, to secure to this country the inestimable blessings of union. The articles of confederation, digested during the American war, intended to confer upon Congress powers nearly equal to those with which they are now invested; but that compact gave them none of the means requisite to carry those powers into effect. And if the sentiment which has uniformly pervaded the minds of the people of this country be a just one, that the consolidated union of these states is indispensable to our national prosperity and happiness and if we do not wish to be once more guilty of the great absurdity of proposing an end, and denying the means to attain it—then we must conclude, that the powers conferred upon Congress are not disproportionate to the magnitude of the trust confided to the Union, and which the Union alone is competent to fulfil. The rules of proceeding in each house are substantially Rules.com
ceeding the same; and though they are essential to the transaction of business with order and safety, they are too minute to be treated at length in an elementary survey of the consti
tutional polity and general jurisprudence of the United States. The house of representatives choose their own speaker, but the Vice-President of the United States is, ex officio, president of the senate, and gives the casting vote when they are equally divided. The proceedings and discussions in the two houses are public. This affords the community early and authentic information of the progress, reason, and policy of measures pending before congress, and it is likewise a powerful stimulus to industry, to research, and to the cultivation of talent and eloquence in debate. Though these advantages may be acquired at the expense of much useless and protracted discussion, yet the balance of utility is greatly in favour of open deliberation ; and it is certain, from the general opposition to the experiment that was made and continued for some years by the senate of the United States, of sitting with closed doors, that such a practice, by any legislative body in this country, would not be endured.
The ordinary mode of passing laws is briefly as follows: One day's notice of a motion for leave to bring in a bill, in cases of a general nature, is required. Every bill must have three readings previous to its being passed, and these readings must be on different days, and no bill can be committed or amended until it has been twice read. Such little checks in the forms of doing business, are prudently intended to guard against surprise or imposition. In the house of representatives, bills, after being twice read, are committed to a committee of the whole house, when the
a See the standing rules and orders of the house of representatives, printed in 1795, by Francis Childs. Legislation was a science cultivated with so much care and refinement among the ancient Romans, that they had laws to instruct them how to make laws. The Lex Licinia, and Lex Ebulia, the Lex Cæcilia, and Lex Didia, provided checks, that the law should not unintentionally contain any particu. lar personal privileges, or weaken the force of former laws, or be crowded with multifarious matter. Gravina, De Ortu et Progressu Juris Civilis, lib. 1. ch. 29.
speaker leaves the chair, and takes a part in the debate as an ordinary member, and a chairman is appointed to preside in his stead. When a bill has passed one house, it is transmitted to the other, and goes through a similar form; though, in the senate there is less formality, and bills are often committed to a select committee, chosen by ballot. If a bill be altered or amended in the house to which it is transmitted, it is then returned to the house in which it originated, and if the two houses cannot agree, they appoint committees to confer together on the subject. When a bill is engrossed, and has passed the sanction of both houses, it is transmitted to the President of the United States for his approbation. If he approves of the bill, he signs it. If he does not, it is President's
negative. returned, with his objections, to the house in which it originated, and that house enters the objections at large on their journals, and proceeds to reconsider the bill. If, after such reconsideration, two thirds of that house should agree to pass the bill, it is sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it is likewise reconsidered, and, if approved by two thirds of that house, it becomes a law. But, in all such cases, the votes of both houses are determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill are entered on the journals. If any bill shall not be returned by the president within ten days (Sundays excepted) aster it shall have been presented to him, the same becomes a law, equally as if he had signed it, unless Congress, by adjournment, in the meaan time, prevents its return, and then it does not become a law."
The practice in Congress, and especially in the second or last session of each Congress, of retaining most of their bills until within the last ten days, is attended with the disadvantage of shortening the time allowed to the president for perusal and reflection upon them, and of placing within the power of the president, the absolute negative of every bill presented within the last ten days preceding the 4th of
a Art. 1. sec. 7.
March ; and this he can effect merely by retaining them, without being obliged to assign any reason whatever ; for he is entitled to ten days to deliberate. Most of the bills that are presented to the president in the second session of every Congress, were, a few years ago, presented to him within the last ten days, and generally within the last two days; but the rules of Congress have latterly checked the evils and danger of such an accumulation of business on the last days of the session.
This qualified negative of the president upon the formation of laws, is, theoretically at least, some additional security against the passage of improper laws, through prejudice or want of due reflection ; but it was principally intended to give to the president a constitutional weapon to defend the executive department, as well as the just balance of the constitution, against the usurpations of the legislative power. To enact laws is a transcendant power; and if the body that possesses it be a full and equal representation of the people, there is danger of its pressing with destructive weight upon all the other parts of the machinery of the government. It has, therefore, been thought necessary, by the most skilful and most experienced artists in the science of civil polity, that strong barriers should be erected for the protection and security of the other necessary powers of the government. Nothing has been deemed more fit and expedient for the purpose, than the provision that the head of the executive department should be so constituted, as to secure a requisite share of independence, and that he should have a negative upon the passing of laws; and the judiciary power, resting on a still more permanent basis, should have the right of determining upon the validity of laws by the standard of the constitution. А qualified negative answers all the salutary purposes of an absolute one, for it is not to be presumed that two thirds of both houses of Congress, on reconsideration, with the reasoning of the president in opposition to the bill spread at large upon their journals, will ever concur in any unconsti