Friday, August 15, 2008


The upper house of Congress Senate


Senate is the second house of the American Congress. A careful study of the American Constitution will make it clear that the Senate is the most important body and occupies a special position among the legislatures of the world and occupies as special composition and powers.

Formation of Senate: (composition)

In America there is a federal system of government and hence the formation of state has taken place on the basis of equality of the states according to federal principle. All the Senates have been given equal representation in the Senate. Each state sends two elected representatives in the senate. The number of states in U.S.A is 50 and the total number of the Senate member is 100.

Election and Term of the Members:

Before 1950, the election of the member of the Senate was made through indirect method but now they are elected through direct method. If a member of senate dies, then the legislature of the state appoints some member in his place. The terms of the members of Senate has been fixed for 6 years but after every two years 1/3rd of its members retire and new members are elected in their places.

Powers and Functions of the Senate:
The Senate of the U.S.A is the most powerful second house of the world. According to Gladstone, '' The Senate is the most remarkable invention of the modern politics. '' These are the functions of Senate.

1. Legislative function: In the field of making laws, the Senate right is equal to that of the House of Representatives and also it is equal in respect of ordinary bills but Senate has more power in respect of financial matters. An ordinary bill is presented in the Senate in the same way as it is presented in the House of Representatives, but it is the Senate only which has the right to amend the financial bills and Senate uses this right freely. Senate can amend the whole money bill except the title, phrase or sentence. In the field of legislation, no second house of any other county of the world has so much as the Senate of America has. If any difference arises regarding the bill in the both house, then it send in the joint session of both the house but if no decision is taken then the bill is deemed to have died.

2. Executive functions: In America, it is the president who makes the important appointments. These appointments can be classified under two categories. First category consists of the higher posts of the Union such as Judges of the Supreme Court, Posts Master General and the members of the Cabinet. The second categories includes those appointments which are made by the federal government for the carrying on the administration of the states properly and efficiently such as the appointments of the judges of the courts of the states which are subordinate to the supreme court. For the both types the president needs the consent to the Senate. For the appointment of the first category, president makes the list and sends it to the senate then the Senate consider over these appointments through the sub committee. The cub committee gives their opinion upon the appointments and then the senate accepts or rejects them though voting. If the senate doesn’t give its consent then the president couldn’t appoint them. Also with out the consent of the senate the president can't take important steps regard to the national policy. An appointment of the federal judiciary, for instance, is referred to the judiciary committee, ambassador to the foreign affairs committee. The committee hears the objections, if any thereafter makes its report to the Senate. The Senate then votes.

3. Foreign policy: The president of America is empowered by the constitution to appoint his ambassadors to the other countries but it is necessary that he should seek the consent of the senate for these appointments. Similarly, it is the president who can enter into a treaty other but that treaty will not be considered valid unless and until it is ratified by the senate. For example: The treaty of Versailles was rejected by the Senate because President Wilson didn’t keep in touch with the Foreign Affairs Committee. That is why President Roosevelt appointed two members of the Senate. Foreign Affairs Committee as delegates to the San Francisco conference which drafted the U.N. charter. In this connection, it may be noted that through this power the senate serves as a great check upon the powers of the president.

4. Judicial functions: The Senate has '' the sole power to try all impeachments.'' Although the impeachments are initiated in the House of Representatives but the final decision in this connection is taken by the Senate. According to this power it is not less then the powers of the House of Representatives. First the house of the Representative considers an impeachment then if it is passes the resolutions of impeachment by 2/3rds of its majority, then it send to the senate. If the senate also consents by 2/3rds of majority that person should leave the office. There is no pardon from a penalty by impeachment.
Impeachment in America can be made against the president, vice –president and all civil officers of the United States for treason, bribery or other light crimes and misdemeanors. The term civil officers include such public servants as diplomat's members of the Cabinet and judges of the federal courts. The Congressmen are not included in the term civil officers.

5. Constitution power: The senate has also the power to amend the constitution. It may, however, be noted that the senate can't amend the constitution by acting alone, but the constitution of America provides that a resolution for amending the Constitution can be initiated in the Senate also.

6. Functions in regard to elections: It possesses some powers in regard to elections also. As regards the election of the Vice –President, if none of the candidates are able to secure 50% of the total votes, the Senate has the power to declare the candidate securing highest number of votes as elected.

Lower House of the Congress: House of Representatives
Composition of the House of Representatives:

In America, there is bicameral legislature. The house of Representative is the lower house of America legislature. As it is known from the name, this is the House of people and forms this point of view, in principle; it is similar to the House of Commons of England. But in practice, it is much weaker than the House of Commons in England, the House of Commons being the representative house is the most powerful, but in America the Senate is more powerful than the House of Representatives. Despite this fact, its importance and utility in the administrative system of American cant be denied.
American Constitution clearly provides that each member of the House of Representatives will represent at least 30,000 people and each state will send at least one representative. The actual counting shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the congress of the United States, and every term of ten years in such manner as they shall by law direct. Thus, on the basis of population, the number of its member increases or decreases, as the case may be. At the time when the area of the Unite States of America was less, the number of its member was 65 but with the increasing of the area the number of its members also increased. The original Constitution didn’t specify the size of the House. It has a short term of two years and it is often happened that the term increased to four years.

Powers and Functions of the House of Representatives:
The powers of the American House of Representatives are not as wide as those of the Senate. These are the powers and the functions:
1. Legislative functions: Any bill can be presented in the House of Representatives but it will be deemed to have been passed by Congress only when the Senate also gives its consent on it. From this point of view, the house of Representative has less power than the House of Commons of England. In England the real position in practice is this House of Commons gets all the bill passed according to its wish but so is not the case with the House of Representatives of America. The House of Representatives can't get any bill passed against the will of the Senate.
The money bill can be presented only in the House of Representatives but in this connection also the Senate has the power to amend or reject it.

2. Judicial powers: The House of Representatives have the power to initiate the impeachment against the President, Vice President and other higher officials. The proceedings of impeachment can't be started in the Senate but in this connection also it is the Senate which gives the final decision or in other words, the will of the Senate ultimately prevails.

3. Powers regarding elections: The House of Representative has an important power in connection with the election of the American President. If none of the candidates for the President ship is able to secure complete majority, than the House of Representatives has the power to declare elected the candidate securing highest number of votes as president.

4. Executive powers and functions: The executive powers of the House of Representatives are negligible as compared to those of the Senate. The Senate have the power to ratify the treaties, appointments made by the president and also have the power to make the investigations of different departments, but the House of Representatives doesn’t have any such powers. The House of Representatives has the powers relating to the declaration of war. Before the declaration of war, the President is required to seek the consent of the House of Representatives also
5. Other powers: The house of Representatives has some other powers also. It can make the rules in regard to the election of the members of the House of Representatives, their expenditure and qualifications etc.

Judiciary of America
Composition, Powers and Function of the Supreme Court:

In the federal system of America, Judiciary has special and great significance. A scholar has remarked that in a Federal system the Judiciary is as essential as the Sun in solar system. Since, there is federal system in America. Prof. Usd has even remarked that the Supreme Court occupies a basic position in America administrative system, it is important for the administrative organization as the President and the members of Congress. Each state has a highest court and this highest court is called Supreme Court. In most of the states, the number of the Judges of the Supreme Court of America Federation is 9. One of them is the chief Justices and 8 are the judges. They are appointed by the President but he has to seek the consent of the Senate. The Constitution doesn’t speak regarding the qualification of them and the President can appoint any person as the judge of the Supreme Court. In the age of 70-75 years a judge of Supreme Court can resign according to his will and after having worked as a judge for 10 years. The judge of the Supreme Court can't be removing from their office, except by impeachment. This impeachment is made in the House of Representatives but the final decision is taken by the Senate. These courts interpret the Constitution of the states and give their legal opinion on serious matters.

Powers and Function of the Supreme Court:

1. Original Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court of America possesses original jurisdiction in the field of justices. Article III, Clause 2 of the Constitution clearly provides:
'' In all cases affecting ambassador, other public ministers and consults and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have the original jurisdiction. ''

2. Appellate Jurisdiction: Two types of appeals are made in the Supreme Court:
¨ If any court of a state has declared any federal Act, treaty made by Federal Administration, or any other subject coming within its jurisdiction s invalid, then an appeal can be made against it in the Supreme Court.
¨ If any law passed by the state legislature is against or repugnant to any law passed by the Federal government, then appeal can be made against it in the Supreme Court.
In short, the appellate jurisdiction is only in respect of Constitution matters and in ordinary matters appeals can be heard only when the Supreme Court of the state gives permission for making such an appeal.

3. Judicial Review: It is the most important power of the Supreme Court and that is why the scholars have called the Supreme Court as the third chamber, of legislature. It is the Supreme Court which decides whether a law passed by the United state of America is against the Constitution or not. If any law is declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, then it is declared invalid. It performs the function of the interpreting the laws.

4. Guardian of Fundamental Rights: It is the guardian of the fundamental rights of the citizens. The liberty of no person can be taken away without due to process of law. It protects the rights of the citizens from the executive and legislature. The right of franchise of America citizens can't be taken away on the ground of color, race, descent or slavery. They have freedom of religion, property, education and have right to be free except under the due process of law.

5. To Control the Federal and State Government: It determined and fixed the jurisdiction of the Federal and state governments and in no case they violate each other. The Supreme Court also decides whether a law is made by congress is according to the provisions of the Constitution or not. The court also decides whether the law made by state legislature is according to rights granted them under the Constitution or not. The Supreme Court can declare any law or a part of it as invalid. It exercises this power rarely.

6. To advise the President: It is also function of the Supreme Court to advise the President in regard to legal matters. From time to time, advice the President on Constitution matters.

7. To Develop the Constitution: Through the power of interpretation of the Constitution, the Supreme Court also helps the development of the Constitution. The Constitution undergoes the changes by the interpretations of the Constitution in accordance with the change circumstances.

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