Brushing Up On The Constitution (part 3)

Up today, we have procedure, and rules regarding holding office (also known as Article One, Sections Five and Six). Previous entries in the Brushing Up On The Constitution series can be found here (part one) and here (part two). As usual, the text of the Constitution can be found on the Library of Congress site here, or on Wikipedia here. That said, let's move right along, shall we?

Sect. 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualification, of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secresy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.

Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

A1.S5.P1 - Each house are supposed to pay attention to whether or not the people who have been elected to serve in them are actually qualified to do so (in other words, that they meet the requirements set forth in sections two and three of article one). Also, a majority of members of either the House or Senate is required for them to go about their business (note that not all members are required, just 50% plus one), but fewer than that 50% plus one are required to end business for the day, or to summon members not attending. Now, I'm not certain, but my best guess is that the majority of that 50% plus one would be required to end business for the day. (In other words, with a minimum majority attending, 51 members in the Senate, 26 would be required to adjourn. Like I said, best guess.)

A1.S5.P2 - Very straight-forward. The House and Senate get to decide their rules of operation (further restrictions placed upon themselves beyond what is mentioned in the Constitution), and punish their own members for breaking any of those rules. Also, the House or Senate can expel members upon the agreement of two-thirds of their members.

A1.S5.P3 - Both the House and Senate must keep a record of their proceedings, and these records must occasionally be published and made available to the public. However, they can choose to seal any records that they feel should be kept secret out of necessity. Also, if at least 20% of members request it, the votes of all members in attendance must be entered into the record.

A1.S5.P4 - Neither the House nor the Senate can choose not to meet for more than three consecutive days without the agreement of the other. (If the Senate wants four days off, the House has to agree to it, and vice versa.) The same rule also applies if either body wants to meet somewhere other than their primary meeting place.

Sect. 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been encreased, during such time; and no person holding any officer under the United States shall be a member of either House, during his continuance in office.

A1.S6.P1 - The members of the Senate and the House will be paid for their work from the U.S. Treasury. Unless they commit specific crimes (as listed, treason, felony, or a breach of the peace - this last seems to be open to a rather wide interpretation), they cannot be arrested during a session, or on their way to or from a session. Also, they cannot be brought into an court on charges relating to their speeches in the House. (This ties into the concept in section five that the House and Senate can place additional strictures on themselves and punish their own members.)

A1.S6.P2 - No member of the House or Senate may be appointed to a newly created position, or one including an increase in pay, during their span in office. Also, no one serving in another office is eligible to become a member of either body while they hold that prior office.

Next up are Bills, and then it ought to get interesting with the section on the Powers of Congress.

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