Page images

well as the affirmative of the question is stated by the President at the same time, and the vote of both sides begins and proceeds pari passu. It is true, also, when the question is put in the usual way, if the negative has also been put. But if it has not, the member entering, or any other member may speak, and even propose amendments, by which the debate may be opened again, and the question greatly deferred. And, as some who have answered aye, may have been changed by the new arguments, the affirmative must be put over again. If, then, the member entering may, by speaking a few words, occasion a repetition of the question, it would be useless to deny it on his simple call for it.

While the House is telling no member may speak, or move out of his place; for, if any mistake be suspected, it must be told again.Mem. in Hakew. 26-2 Hats. 143.

If any difficulty arises in point of order, during the division, the Speaker is to decide peremptorily, subject to the future censure of the House, if irregular. He sometimes permits old experienced members to assist him with their advice, which they do sitting in their seats, covered to avoid the appearance of debate; but this can only be with the Speaker's leave, else the division might last several hours.-2 Hats. 143.

The voice of the majority decides. For the lex majoris partis, is the law of all councils, elections, &c. where not otherwise expressly provid

[ocr errors]

ed.-Hakew. 93. But, if the House be equally divided, semper presumatur pro negante:' that is, the former law is not to be changed but by a majority.-Towns. col. 134.

But, in the Senate of the United States, the Vice-president decides, when the House is divided.-Const. Ü. S. Art. I. Sec. II.

When, from counting the House, on a division, it appears that there is not a quorum, the matter continues exactly in the state in which it was before the division, and must be resumed at that point on any future day.-2 Hats. 126.

1606, May 1, on a question, whether a member having said Yea, may afterwards sit and change his opinion? A precedent was remembered by the Speaker, of Mr. Morris, attorney of the wards, in 39 Eliz. who in like case changed his opinion. Mem. in Hakew. 27.



After the bill has passed, and not before, the title may be amended, and is to be fixed by a question; and the bill is then sent to the other House.



When a question has been once made and carried in the affirmative or negative, it shall be in order for any member of the majority to move for the re-consideration thereof: but no motion for the re-consideration of any vote shall be in order after a bill, resolution, message, report, amendment, or motion, upon which the vote was taken, shall have gone out of the possession of the Senate, announcing their decision; nor shall any motion for reconsideration be in order, unless made on the same day on which the vote was taken, or within the two next days of actual session of the Senate thereafter.-Rule 20.

1798, Jan. A bill on its second reading, being amended, and on the question, whether it shall be read a third time negatived, was restored by a decision to re-consider that question. Here the votes of negative and re-consideration, like positive and negative quantities in equation, destroy one another, and are as if they were expunged from the journals. Consequently, the bill is open for amendment, just so far as it was the moment preceding the question for the third reading. That is to say, all parts of the bill are open for amendment, except those on which votes have been already taken in its present stage. So also may it be re-committed.

The rule permitting a re-consideration of a question affixing to it no limitation of time or circumstance, it may be asked whether there is no limitation? If, after the vote, the paper on which it is passed has been parted with, there can be no re-consideration: as if a vote has been for the passage of a bill, and the bill has been sent to the other House. But where the paper remains, as on a bill rejected, when, or under what circumstances, does it cease to be susceptible of re-consideration? This re

mains to be settled, unless a sense that the right of reconsideration is a right to waste the time of the House in repeated agitations of the same question, so that it shall never know when a question is done with, should induce them to reform this anomalous proceeding.*

In Parliament, a question once carried, cannot be questioned again, at the same session; but must stand as the judgment of the House.Towns. col. 67-Mem. in Hakew. 33. And a bill once rejected, another of the same substance cannot be brought in again the same session.Hakew. 158-6 Grey, 392. But this does not extend to prevent putting the same questions in different stages of a bill; because every stage of a bill submits the whole and every part of it to the opinion of the House, as open for amendment, either by insertion or omission, though the same amendment has been accepted or rejected in a former stage. So in reports of committees, e. g. report of an address, the same question is before the House, and open for free discussion.-Towns. col. 26--2 Hats. 98. 100. 101. So orders of the House, or instructions to committees, may be discharged. So a bill begun in one House, sent to the other, and there rejected, may be renewed again in that other, passed, and sent back.-Ib. 92-3 Hats, 161. Or, if, instead of being rejected, they read it once, and lay it aside, and put it off a month,

This defect is remedied by Rule 20, cited above, which has been adopted since the original edition of this work was published.

they may order in another to the same effect, with the same or a different title.-Hakew. 97, 98.

Divers expedients are used to correct the effects of this rule; as, by passing an explanatory act, if any thing has been omitted or ill-expressed, 3 Hats. 278; or an act to enforce, and make more effectual an act, &c. or to rectify mistakes in an act, &c. or a committee on one bill may be instructed to receive a clause to rectify the mistakes of another. Thus, June 24, 1685, a clause was inserted in a bill for rectifying a mistake committed by a clerk in engrossing a bill of reply.-2 Hats. 194. 6. Or the session may be closed for one, two, three, or more days, and a new one commenced. But then all matters depending must be finished, or they fall, and are to begin de novo.-2 Hats. 94. 98. Or a part of the subject may be taken up by another bill, or taken up in a different way.-6 Grey, 304.


And in cases of the last magnitude, this rule has not been so strictly and verbally observed as to stop indispensable proceedings altogether.2 Hats. 92. 98. Thus, when the address on the preliminaries of peace, in 1782, had been lost by a majority of one; on account of the importance of the question, and smallness of the majority, the same question in substance, though with words not in the first, and which might change the opinion of some members, was brought on again and carried: as the motives

« PreviousContinue »