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and by judicial interpretation. That is to say, due to the large number of bills presented before Congress, making the consideration of all on the floors of Congress impossible, a bill is first referred to a committee, of which there are in the House alone 59 (64th Cong.). The most important of these committees are,-Ways and Means, Rules, Appropriations, Banking and Currency, Rivers and Harbors, Judiciary, Railways and Canals, Foreign Affairs, Naval Affairs, Military Affairs, Public Lands, Agriculture, Labor, Interstate and Foreign Commerce, etc.
After a bill has been referred to its appropriate committee it must be read three times after which it is debated and voted upon. But as Lord Bryce has said, "The committee can amend the bill as they please, and although they cannot formally extinguish it, they can practically do so by reporting adversely, or by delaying to report it till late in the session, or by not reporting it at all." Thus with the exception of bills of special interest and importance the fate of nearly all bills is practically decided in committee.
Assuming a bill to have become a law, it may have another obstacle to overcome. The constitutionality of the bill may be disputed. That is to say it may be claimed that the law is in conflict with some provision of the Constitution. In such case it is left to the judicial branch to decide whether it is constitutional or not. Usually the law is first tested in the lower Federal courts, and if the result is unsatisfactory to the contestant, he may appeal to the Supreme Court, whose decision is final. An adverse decision by the Supreme Court automatically nullifies a law. Since the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of a law is very frequently not evident or clear, it rests with the Supreme Court to interpret the law. Thus has arisen what is known as government by judicial interpretation. At various periods in the history of the U. S. government it has been found that the Supreme Court has given diametrically opposed interpretations on laws similar in character. In recent times the preponderance of judicial opinion in favor of capitalistic interests has led to a movement in favor of the recall of judges by the people.
In actual practice there is another agency that shares in the functions of government, namely, the various boards and commissions which Congress may designate and the members of which are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. The most important of these are, the Inter-state Commerce Commission which has the power to
regulate the operation of the railroads which engage in interstate commerce; the Civil Service Commission, which has charge of filling offices, for which competitive examinations are required; the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates corporations, the nature of whose activity is in restraint of trade, and the Federal Reserve Board, which regulates banking operations in the U. S.
Powers of Congress.
Among the powers which the Constitution confers upon Congress are,-to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises; to pay the debts of the United States; to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states; . to coin and regulate the value of money and fix standards of weight and measure; to declare war and raise and support armies, although no appropriation of money may be for a longer term than two years; and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States or in any department or office thereof."
The last clause is known as the "elastic clause." Its elasticity has given various political and economic interests opportunity in the past to enact legislation which otherwise would have been declared unconstitutional.
Powers of President.
Among the powers conferred upon the President are,to act as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, to appoint with the consent of the Senate, judges of the Supreme Court, Ambassadors, Consuls, and all other officers whose appointment is not specifically provided for. At present the President appoints hundreds of such officers, and this power is the cause of constant political dickering and favoritism.
Amendment of the Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States may be amended in the following manner: Two-thirds of both houses of Congress may propose an amendment, or the legislatures of twothirds of the states may call upon Congress to hold a convention for proposing amendments, after which such proposed amendment must be ratified by the legislatures of or conventions in three-fourths of the states. It is obvious that this proceedure makes amending the Constitution difficult. Of over 1,700 amendments that have been offered, 17 have succeeded in becoming a part of the Constitution.
Citizens entitled to vote in the federal elections are generally male citizens over 21 years of age. The qualifications are determined by the various states. The franchise is not absolutely universal; residence at least one year in most states is necessary, in some states the payment of taxes, in others registration.
On the other hand many of the Western States admit to the franchise unnaturalized persons who have formally declared their intention to become citizens. Several of the Southern States have adopted methods, with the express and avowed purpose of excluding the negroes from the franchise, and yet avoiding the constitutional consequences of discriminating "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Untaxed Indians are excluded from the franchise, in most states convicts, in some states duellists and fraudulent voters; in Massachusetts voters are required to be able to read English. In some Southern States they are required to give a reasonable explanation of what they read.
Wyoming (1869), Colorado (1893), Utah, Idaho (1896), Washington (1910), California (1911), Oregon, Arizona, Kansas (1912), Illinois,1 Alaska (1913), Montana, Nevada (1914), admit women to the franchise on equal terms with
President Woodrow Wilson
Vice President-Thomas Riley Marshall...... 12,000
The Cabinet-arranged in the order of succession for the Presidency:
Secretary of State....
.Newton D. Baker
.William C. Redfield
Salaries of Cabinet Officers are $12,000 each.
Cabinet officers are chosen by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. The Secretaries are responsible to the President for their respective departments.
1 Vote for Presidential electors only.
THE COMMISSION FORM OF GOVERNMENT. BY FELIX GRENDON.
A generation ago the cities of the United States were infamous for the corruption and inefficiency of their governments. Those citizens who did not directly profit by the infamy, viewed it with the helpless fatalism that a famine or an earthquake inspires. Presently, a few Americans, stung by the criticisms of Mr. Bryce and other horrified visitors, made the astonishing discovery that nothing in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, or the laws of Nature imposed a permanent condition of graft and mismanagement on any of our city administrations.
All kinds of proposals for electoral and administrative reforms followed this discovery. A few obscure attempts to test these proposals in practice ended in comparative failure. And no lasting experiment was tried until 1900, when a hurricane nearly swept Galveston into the sea. The stricken city, on the edge of bankruptcy, was in a fair way to being pushed over the precipice by its untrained, muddle-headed, incompetent authorities. In self-preservation, Galvestonians took what was considered a desperate step. They summarily discarded their outworn Mayor and Council form of government and tried the proposed Commission form.
Time sided with the change. Stimulated by Galveston's success, other cities established Commissions to supersede the old type of municipal rule. By August 1916, the following figures summarize the spread of the Commission plan in the United States:
The decrease in 1915 may in part be put down to the rise of the Commission-Manager movement. It may be noted that_several fairly large cities like New Orleans (340,000), St. Paul (214,000), Jersey City (267,000), Buffalo (420,000), and Portland (207,000) now operate under the Commission plan.
What is the Commission Plan?
Suppose the Cunard Steamship Company were suddenly to go to the insane length of making the Commissary Department of each ship independent of the Captain, and suppose, at the same time, they put the carpenters from the forecastle and the stokers from the engine-room wholly under the Chief Steward's jurisdiction. The resulting conflict of authority would be so intolerable that a strike of all the captains and engineers in the line would instantly follow.
Yet such an intolerable division and conflict of authority is precisely the salient feature of the old Mayor and Council (or Alderman) form of government. What the Commission form aims at is to concentrate all the legislative and administrative functions of the municipality in a body of 3, 5, or 7 persons elected not by districts but at large, and responsive to the wishes of the electorate through the medium of the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. Each Commissioner becomes the head of a City Department, but remains subject to the direction of the whole Commission in which is vested not only the paramount authority of a ship's captain but the sole power to enact the city's laws. Thus Commissioner A becomes the head, say, of the Building Department, Commissioner B of the Health Department, and so on. The Commission as a unit, however, determines the general policy of each department and relates it to the welfare of the whole City.
The Charter and its Provisions.
A Commission city operates under a charter
which a state-wide law (as in Iowa or Kansas) permits any city to adopt (e. g. Des Moines);
b. which the state grants specifically to the city
in question (e. g. Galveston).
The evolution of the Commission plan charter is as striking as the evolution of a locomotive or a horse. Each new plan presents variations on, and supplements to, its predecessors. The later commission charters include most, if not all, of the following provisions:
1. The distinguishing feature: A small board of commissioners holding all the legislative and administrative powers.
2. The short ballot. The commissioners are the only elective officials. The non-partisan direct primary. Party designations are not per
mitted on primary ballots.