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, November 21, 2010

Minority Power

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.1: “When no quorum is present in either of the houses of Congress, the minority may meet for the purpose of calling up the absent members and compelling them, where necessary, to suffer certain penalties until such time as a quorum is in attendance. The smaller group can also adjourn from day to day until a quorum is attained.” This principle gives power to a minority of the members of either the Senate or the House to meet together and impose penalties on absent members until there is a quorum in attendance. This principle insures that members of the House and Senate will be available to act in case of national security situation arose.

A problem arose in the House of Representatives when opposition to a matter of business would break a quorum by refusing to vote. House rule XV said that if members were present but not voting, they would be considered as part of a quorum. There are times when a majority is present to start a session and then some members go back to their offices or to a committee meeting. The business of the house continues under a ruling from the Supreme Court: “A quorum once established is presumed to continue unless and until a point of no quorum is raised.” When an “important vote” is to be taken, a point of “no quorum” is raised, and the whole House or Senate is ordered to return to session.

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