Breakdown; The Structure of the Senate and Impeachment

As we have seen so far with Article One of the Constitution it built the framework of Congress. And Section 3 lays out the Senate. Lets begin.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, [chosen by the Legislature thereof,] for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; [and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.]

This part was changed by the 17th Amendment to popular vote from a vote of the state legislature nullifying a state’s ability of representation in Congress. I went more in-depth on it here.

Also in the above section the Senators reelections were staggered at two-year intervals. A way to keep them accountable maybe?

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

Its not often the Vice-President has to break a tie, in fact the last one that had to was Al Gore during the Clinton era. Also the pro tempore is in the chain of succession to be President if something happened to the President, Vice-President and Speaker of the House. Fun facts.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

The Senate also can impeach and the last time it had an impeachment hearing was when they tried Bill Clinton, and the Chief Justice presides over it, who at the time was William Rehnquist. The Senate acts as the jury, but only need 2/3rd and the House of Representatives to also impeach. But it’s also not a criminal trial, no jail time. But it does strip the accused of power and ability to try for the job again if all agree. A criminal or civil trial is possible later though.

Now you know why the Senate is structured the way it is, and next week we’ll look into elections and rules.


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