Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Power to Adjourn

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 3:  “… in Case of Disagreement between [the Senate and the House], with Respect to the Time of Adjournment [the President] may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper….”  In case of a dispute between the Senate and the House of Representatives over the time of adjournment, this provision in the United States Constitution gives authority to the President to fix the time of adjournment.

                “It has never been necessary for the President to exercise this provision.  The very existence of this power in the President has been sufficient to induce the House and the Senate to reach an adjournment agreement even during periods of intense disputation.
                “One of the most serious weaknesses of the British Constitution was the power of the king to call and dissolve Parliaments at will.  To prevent similar difficulties arising in the United States, the Founders decided that Congress shall assemble at least once a year; that neither House shall adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other; that they shall not meet in any place other than that where the two houses are sitting; and if they cannot agree upon adjournment, the President may adjourn them.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 560-561.)

                Even more important [than the authority of convening Congress] to the Framers was limiting the power of the executive to dissolve the legislature.  They understood that that power was among the quickest routes to tyranny.  Under the Constitution, therefore, `the President can only adjourn the national Legislature in the single case of disagreement about the time of adjournment.’  The Federalist No. 69 (Alexander Hamilton).  It is only an administrative power, one that the President has never had to exercise.”  (See David F. Forte, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 220.)

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