The Senate

The Federalist No. 62

The Senate imposes higher qualifications for Senators, justified by more mature demands, including foreign policy. Appointment by state legisltures was a compromise, but it likely improves selection and links state and federal authorities together. Two per state was also a compromise, the best available considering; even the large states benefit to the extent that the compromise promotes state power. Two houses with different forms of representation on balance produce better and more deliberate (slow) laws. Two houses double the security against legislative abuses and raise barriers to temporary impulses and violent passions any one house will from time to time succumb to. Longer terms minimize legislative errors—the most common form of government blunder (from the head not the heart)—improves capabilities to govern well, and adds stability to the statute rolls. Inconsistency in government leads to foreign distrust and exploitation. A collection of voluminous and impenetrable laws by that fact alone poisons liberty, creates harm to private initiatives dependent upon public policy, and destroys the people’s confidence in their own government.

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The Federalist No. 63

1. The Senate creates a sense of national character, which is necessary to our esteem to other nations, which in turn augments their interest in working with us and even helping us in our own moments of trial. Building a national character requires a smaller and durable body. 2. Paradoxically, longer terms also promote responsibility to the people. Governments take on short-term and long-term projects. If the project extends significantly beyond the term of the agency, they cannot hold interest in its progress. A second legislative body with much longer terms gives both perspectives a play. Longer terms also filter the transient passions of the shorter-term body. 3. Also paradoxically, a republic extended over a great territory minimizes the power of factions, but also extends their duration. Older systems of representative senates, some with life terms, were effective at controlling factions. 4. While liberties are more endangered in America by abuses of liberty than abuses of government, we can nevertheless say that a Senate growing into tyranny from its indirect appointment and long term is obviated by its presence in a complete chain of governance the entire of which must be corrupted for the Senate to have effective corruption. The House will in the end control anyway. (Last Madison Paper)

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The Federalist No. 64

Treaties are most effectively lodged within a representative government in its most durable and qualified reaches, hence in those departments indirectly elected by selected committees or state legislatures. The longer and staggered terms of the President and Senate enable them to acquire the knowledge and skills international treaty making requires, which must be cautiously formed and steadily pursued. As secrecy is often required, it is sensible that the President negotiate treaties, the Senate only asked to advise and consent. Treaties have the power of law, as all acts of any branch of government has the power of law; where this not so, no one would conclude a treaty with us. The nature of the presidency and the Senate assures the highest level of responsibility and accountability, and makes corruption virtually impossible.

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The Federalist No. 65

As impeachments arise from political crimes, they are best tried in a body as removed from political intrigue as possible, suggesting a body indirectly elected and of enough size to mitigate personal animosities, hence the Senate. Impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate conforms to the British model and that of several states. The Supreme Court is too small and removed to be effective, and may well be the court of last resort for any convictions an impeached civil servant may suffer outside impeachment (which only casts the criminal out of office). Combining the Court and the Senate does not solve that problem, but some effect is gained by having the Chief Justice preside at impeachment trials. An ad hoc impeachment committee would have to look like the Senate, which would be both expensive and in the end unaccountable for its actions. However, objections to the constitution’s impeachment provisions do not rise to an indictment of the whole. No constitution will be free of defects; opponents must oppose the whole, not rest their case on a fragment.

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The Federalist No. 66

Lodging impeachment in the legislature, with both houses involved, is a valid application of intermixed branches, and the greatest barrier to abuse. It is illogical to cumulate the three special powers of the Senate, each of which is justified, to a claim of aristocratic influence. Forget not that the House is the superior organ of government, always acting aa a final check on the Senate, particularly considering their unique powers of originating spending bills, instituting impeachments, and settling presidential elections when electors fail to achieve a majority. As the Senate does not have the power to choose those appointed by the President, but only confirms, it is unlikely that they would from that fact alone have unnatural biases in an accused favor. Should a treaty reached through corruption be the cause of impeachment, the Senate as a whole, or its two-thirds majority, is exempt from prosecution by a constitutional provision valid in all constitutions, and its sense of betrayal would mitigate any tendencies to pardon an accused senator or executive officer who promulgated a corrupt treaty.

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