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legislature, of which it is proper in this connection to give a brief account; namely, the compensation of its members for their public services. In the plan presented by the Virginia delegation, it was proposed that the members of both branches should receive "liberal stipends"; but it was not suggested whether they were to be paid by the States, or from the national treasury. The committee of the whole determined to adopt the latter mode of payment; and as the representation in both branches, according to the first decision, was to be of the same character, no reason was then suggested for making à difference in the source of their compensation. But when the construction of the Senate was considered in the Convention, the idea was suggested that this body ought in some way to represent wealth; and it was apparently under the influence of this suggestion, that, after a refusal to provide for a payment of the senators by their States, payment out of the national treasury was stricken from the resolution under debate. There was thus introduced into the resolutions sent to the committee of detail, a discrepancy between the modes of compensating the members of the two branches; for while the members of the House were to be paid "an adequate compensation" out of "the public treasury," the Senate were to receive "a compensation for the devotion of their time to the public service," but the source of payment was not designated. But when the whole body of those resolutions had been acted on, the character of the 1 Elliot, V. 247.
representation in the Senate had been settled, and the idea of its being made a representation of wealth, in any sense, had been rejected. The committee of detail had, therefore, in giving effect to the decisions of the Convention, to consider merely whether the members of the two branches should be paid by their States, or from the national treasury; and for the purpose of making the same provision as to both, and in order to avoid the question whether the Constitution should establish the amount, or should leave it to be regulated by the Congress itself, they provided that the members of each house should receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained and paid by the State in which they should be chosen.1
This, however, was to encounter far greater evils than it avoided. If paid by their States, the members of the national legislature would not only receive different compensations, but they would be directly subjected to the prejudices, caprices, and political purposes of the State legislatures. Whatever theory might be maintained with respect to the relations between the representatives, in either branch, and the State in which they were chosen, or the people of the States, to subject one class of public servants to the power of another class could not fail to produce the most mischievous consequences. A large majority of the States, therefore, decided upon payment out of the national treasury,2
1 Art. VI. § 10 of the first draft. Elliot, V. 378.
2 Massachusetts and South Carolina in the negative.
and it was finally determined that the rate of compensation should not be fixed by the Constitution, but should be left to be ascertained by law.1
Among the separate functions assigned by the Constitution to the houses of Congress are those of presenting and trying impeachments. An impeachment, in the report of the committee of detail, was treated as an ordinary judicial proceeding, and was placed within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. That this was not in all respects a suitable provision, will appear from the following considerations. Although an impeachment may involve an inquiry whether a crime against any positive law has been committed, yet it is not necessarily a trial for crime; nor is there any necessity, in the case of crimes committed by public officers, for the institution of any special proceeding for the infliction of the punishment prescribed by the laws, since they, like all other persons, are amenable to the ordinary jurisdiction of the courts of justice, in respect of offences against positive law. The purposes of an impeachment lie wholly beyond the penalties of the statute or the customary law. The object of the proceeding is to ascertain whether cause exists for removing a public officer from office. Such a cause may be found in the fact, that, either in the discharge of his office, or aside from its functions, he has violated a law, or committed what is technically denominated a crime. But a cause for removal from office may
1 See the discussion on Art. VI. § 10 of the first draft. Elliot, V. 425-427.
exist, where no offence against positive law has been committed, as where the individual has, from immorality or imbecility or maleadministration, become unfit to exercise the office. The rules by which an impeachment is to be determined are therefore peculiar, and are not fully embraced by those principles or provisions of law which courts of ordinary jurisdiction are required to administer.
From considerations of this kind, especially when applied to the impeachment of a President of the United States, the Convention found it expedient to place the trial in the Senate. In fact, the whole subject of impeachments, as finally settled in the Constitution, received its impress in a great degree from the attention that was paid to the bearing of this power upon the executive. Few members of the Convention were willing to constitute a single executive, with such powers as were proposed to be given to the President, without subjecting him to removal from office on impeachment; and when it was perceived to be necessary to confer upon him the appointment of the judges, it became equally necessary to provide some other tribunal than the Supreme Court for the trial of his impeachment. There was no other body already provided for in the government, with whom this jurisdiction could be lodged, excepting the Senate; and the only alternative to this plan was to create a special tribunal for the sole purpose of trying impeachments of the President and other officers. This was justly deemed a manifest inconvenience; and although there were
various theoretical objections suggested against placing the trial in the Senate, on the question being stated there were found to be but two dissentient States. This point having been settled, in relation to impeachments of the President, the trial of impeachments of all other civil officers of the United States was, for the sake of uniformity, also confided to the Senate. The power of impeachment was confined, as originally proposed, to the House of Representatives.3
The number of members of each house that should be made a quorum for the transaction of business gave rise to a good deal of difference of opinion. The controlling reason why a smaller number than a majority of the members of each house should not be permitted to make laws, was to be found in the extent of the country and the diversity of its interests. The central States, it was said, could always have their members present with more convenience than the distant States; and after some discussion, it was determined to establish a majority of each house as its quorum for the transaction of business, giving to a smaller number power to adjourn from day to day, and to compel the attendance of absent members.4
Provisions making each house the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own mem
1 Pennsylvania and Virginia. 2 See Elliot, V. 507, 528, 529. 3 As to the other provisions of the Constitution on this subject,
see the Index, verb. Impeach
4 Elliot, V. 405, 406. Art. I. §5 of the Constitution.