The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, June 19, 1903, Page 14, Image 14

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The Commoner
I Election of Senators by Popular Vote.
A fow years ago tho proposition that
United States senators be elect ed by
popular voto had comparatively lit
tle support. Today that plan is in
dorsed by men of all political par
ties. In spite of the fact that it is
vory .evident that tho reform is pop
ular among tho people and that news
papers regardless of political preju
dice give cordial support to the plan,
tho senate has systematically ob
structed tho proposed reform. Dur
ing the past two or three years many
legislatures havo gone on record -n
favor of an amendment to the con
stitution providing for the popular
election of senators, and anything per
taining to that plan must be of general
interest Recenty tho Chicago Ree-ord-Horald,
a republican paper, stated
that twelve legislatures had already
applied to congress requesting tho
calling of a convention for the pur
pose of amending the federal constitu
tion so as to provide for the election
of senators by direct vote of the peo
plo, and that nino other states had
passed resolutions favorable to the
proposed reform. Mr. H. P. Dale of
Des Moines, la., commenting upon the
Record-Herald's statement, wrote to
I.. newspaper directing attention to
tho fact that Iowa should bo added to
the list and that the Iowa legislature
as long ago as ltj2 adopted a Joint
resolution in favor of popular election.
In his letter to the .uecord-Herald
Mr. Dale raised two questions con
cerning the procedure in case such a
cc ention should b called. One was
whether there was any time limit
within which t..o different states must
act for their resolutions to be effec
tive the other, whether their action
should bo by joint resolution, con
current resolution, or by bill. Prompt
er nt i Mr. Daln's rmestioiiB. tho Ttec-
ord-Herald caused an investigation to
rr- ho mnrtn at. Ma Washington omen and
the result provides interesting read
ing. Article V. of the constitution un
der which the proposed convention
wouid be called' is as follows:
"The congress, whenever two-thirds
of both houses shall deem it neces
sary, shall propose amendments to
this constitution, or, on the applica
tion of the legislatures of two-third
of tne several states, shall call a con
vention for proposing amendments
which, In either case, shall be valid
to all Intents and purposes as part of
this constitution, when ratified by tlw
legislatures of three-fourths of the
several states, or by conventions in
three-fourths thereof, as the one or
the other mode of ratification may be
proposed by tho congress; provided
that no amendment which may be
made prior to the year 1808, shall in
any manner affect tho first and fourth
clauses in the ninth section of the first
article, and that' no state without Its
consent shall bo deprived of its equal
suffrage in the senate."
. A request for Information on some
of tho mooted points was made in
Was .Ington through the Record-Herald's
bureau there and brought forth
In responso tho following statement:
"Tho application of tho states legis
latures to congress to call a constitu
tional convention may be made In any
form the constitutions of the differ
ent states will permit. It cannot be
stated as a rule that tho state demand
shall bo made by concurrent resolu
te :n, joint resolution or bill, that de
pending upon tho constitution of the
respective states. It will bo found
that in practically all the states the
governor of tho state has a veto pow
er. Tho constifut!on says the appli
cation shall bo made by tho loglsla
turcB of two-thirds of the several
o states, and does not mention tUo g07-
le waw
ernor, but in regard to proposing con
stitutional amendments tho legisla
tures must follow the provisions of
the constitution under which they act,
and if that constitution requires tho
approval of the governor to give the
act of the legislature force then it
will be required.
"Tho federal constitution does not
mention the president of the United
btates in article 6, which provides for
amendments to the constitution, nev
ertheless the resolution of congress
proposing amendments to the consti
tution is approved by him. As con
gress can propose constitutional
amendments only Ly a two-thirds vote
of both houses, tho approval of the
president is formal, because the vote
by which tho amendment Is proposed
must under the constitution be a two
tnirds vote, which is required to pass
a law over the president's veto."
According to this same authority:
"Officials of the state department an.j
senatfirs who have taken a prominent
part in the present movement to se
cure a constitutional amendment ior
tho election of senators by the vote
of the people, agree tnat there is no
time limit within which the demana
of two-thirds of the states must be
made. The present movement has
been on foot something like one hun
dred years. During that time the leg
islatures of a number of states have
r. ade application to congress for a
constitutional amendment, and it i3
believed that the first application has
as much force today as the last. Tha
position Is taken that congress cai
ascertain tho views of a legislature
upon any subject only through its
acts, and a legislature which ma
have years ago petitioned for a con
stitutional amendment must stand
committed to that position until a sub
sequent legislature revokes that ac
tion. "This is a new question and one up
on which there will be a difference of
opinion. Some will undoubtedly con
tend that one congress is not bound
by a predecessor, and that communi
cations to one congress will not carrv
over to the next Such a position will
La difficult to maintain, because it
would involve a substantial repudia
tion of a part of article 5 of the con
stitution. Should congress hofd that
the application of tho legislatures of
two-thirds of the several states must
bo made to one congress, or within
two years, amendments to tho consti
tution through the application of leg
islatures would bo practically impos
sible, because it would be difficult, if
not impossible, to get the legislature!
of two-thirds of the states to act with
in turn imnfa
iu tnu jkuioi
It is further pointed "but by tho
Record-Herald authority that "when
mits constitutional amendments tj
tho legislatures of tho several states
for approval, it places no time limit
on tholr ratification. Congress passe
the resolution, which is duly for
warded through the proper channels
to the different legislatures, which
may act upon tho proposed amend
ment at pleasure. An amendment to
the constitution proposed by congress
may be pending before the legislate e
ror roproval ror years. Until tho leg
islatures or three-fourths of the states
havo ratified the proposed amendment
congress would have tho right, in tho
judgment of somo excellent authori
ties to withdraw the amendment.
"in other words, suppose congress
should proposo an amendment. There
Is a tidal wave or some revulsion in
sentiment and tho political composi
tion of congress is changed. Tho now
congress, which may be opposed to tho
amendment proposed by its predecr
sor. may, in the judgment of some,
withdraw the pending amendment
provided the legislatures of two-thiras
of the states have not ratified It.
"Two states, Ohio and New Jersey,
revoked the ratification of one of tho
amendments to the constitution, and
is believed today the revocation was
by other senatois, who held that upon
hi3 view the states that had assented
to the two proposed mendments that
failed to carry immediately after tho
adoption of the'toonstitutlon would still
be bound by their century-old assent
should those amendments ever be pro
posed again.
4"I hat a state coul I withdraw its
effective. A state legislature can re-, ratification was tho view of Colonel
vokj as well as approve, and tne re
vocr'ion of Its ratification of an
amendment will likely bo effective
provided the proclamation has not
been Issued, announcing the ratifica
tion of the amendment by the legisla
tures of three-fourths of the states."
It is also announced by this same
authority that "the constitution is
explicit in providing- that 'the con
gress ... on the application of tne
legislatures of two-thirds of the sev
eral states shall call a convention,'
etc Under the constitution congress
has no discretion or option, but on
the other hand tho question arises
who is to compel c. .gross to act.
Suppose the legislatures of two-thirdu
of the several states make application
and congress ignores them. The ques
tion cannot be taken into the su
premo court of the United States, no
is there, so far as the authorities oj
the subject hero can see, any way to
force congress to comply with the con
stitutional provision.
"Upon the application of the legis
latures of two-thirds of the several
states congress 'shall call a conven
tion for proposing amendments.' Tuid
convention cannot be limited to any
one point It must be free to propose
such amendments as it chooses. The
amendments proposed by this conven
tion may bo submitted to the legisla
tures or to congress for ratification,
as the one or the other mode of rati
fication may be proposed by the con
Commenting editorially upon this
statement, the Record-Herald inti
mates that there is considerable doubt
as to whether a state may withdraw
its request after making it; whether
congress may refuse to call a conven
tion upon the proper application, and
whether the convention may consid
er other topics besides the ones for
which it was specifically summoned.
The Record-Herald says that no pre
cedent or decision can be found
through which such questions may au
thoritively be answered since thus far
all amendments to the constitution
have been made upon the direct init
iative of congress. It adds, however,
that lawyers highly learned in federal
law to whom the question have been
submitted say only that the whole sub-,
ject Is speculative and must remain so
until a convention is actually held.
The wide-spread interest attaching
to this question directs particular at
tention to further interesting comment
made upon it by the Record-Herald.
That paper says that there are cer
tain analogies which a-e of value in
considering the subject Such are for
instance, tho discussions in congress
on the power of a state to withdraw its
ratification of an amendment A dis
patch of these debates will be found
in an article by Charles F. Waite in
tho Chicago Law Times, October 1
1887. The Record-Herald says:
"When New York attempted to
withdraw her ratification of tho fif
teenth amendment Senator Coriltling
uieuou m, luuma mat a state had no
811 oh nnwfr nvn YTlrn f . ..nn
rnf?r Vt fhxnn ninntnMn .o i . . w
tt X. , XJ., v"cc -4uwi-8 ui me states.
Ho held that tho power to ratify wa-5
a special limited power, .that was ex
hausted by a single oxerciso. tt wn
J hotly combated on this point, however.
beorge Mason, member of the federal
convention from Virginia, who wishe 1
ratification to be given by conventions,
not by legislatures, because 'suc
ceeding legislatures having equal au
thority could undo the acts of their
predecessors.' (Madison papers, p.
"In connection with tha question of
the right of the governor to veto a
state legislature's demand Tor a con
vention, it seems clear enough that 11
by the state constitution the governor
is made a part of the legislature he
may exercise the veto power, but
otherwise probably not. In Illinois
he has no such power. An interesting
decision in this connection is that of
Commonwealth ex rel.-vs. Griest,19S
Pa. 410, in which 'a sharp distinction
is drawn between the functions of the
legislature as a law-making body and
as an agent for constitutional revision.
In the first case the legislature acts m
connection with the governor of tho
state, who possesses a veto power. 7n
the latter case it is linked up with the
'great mass of the electors of the
commonwealth,' and legislature and
olectors combined 'constitute the body
which considers and determines ques
tions of constitutional amendment.'
This was, however, a decision con
cerning the state constitution."
You or 1?
Have you thot, dear one, of the time
to como,
When you and I must part,
One away to that long, last home,
One left with a broken heart?
Yet all the science of ages run
Does not reveal to us which 'one,
Nor the day or tho hour, sweetheart.
Oh, should I be the one to go, dear
And you would- be left'alone;
Then would all the peace of heaven
Nor celestial joys. atone!
For the thot of your widowed grief
would be
Enough to make heaven a hell for me.
When thinking of you, alone.
Or should you, dear one, be the first
to go
And I be the one to stay,
The world would be dreary to me, I
With never a gladsome day."
And heaven, to you, would be sad and
Rememb'ring my 'unshared anguisli
And you so far away.
Did you ever stop and, shudd'ring,
Of the parting sure to be,.
Sometime, dear heart, at the grave')
dark brink?
Oh! will it be you or me? ,
Yet all the wisdom of works untoxd
Does not the secret to us unfold.
'Tis well that we cannot see.
A. H. Holmes, in Greensburg (Kas.)
The high water and floods at St
Louis havo occasioned much damage
to property.. On June 8 it was esti
mated that the loss of life will bo
about 20 and the property loss wil
aggregate $3,000,000.
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