The principle for discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.1: “Each House shall be the sole judge of whether or not an elected Senator or Representative has the required qualifications.” This principle provides both the Senate and the House the right and the responsibility to question the qualifications of the people who go to Washington to represent the states.
It is not a common occurrence for either the Senate or the House to refuse to seat elected representatives, but there have been a few instances. A Wisconsin socialist named Victor L. Berger was refused a seat in the House in 1919 because he had agitated against the United States participating in World War I. The House also refused to seat Adam Clayton Powell in 1967 because of “gross misconduct,” but the House was later overruled by the Supreme Court on this action. Frank Smith of Illinois was refused a seat in 1928 because part of the donations for his campaign came from a questionable source.