The Constitution of the United States: Article I – Section 3

Article I – Section 3, paragraph 1:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, [chosen by the Legislature]1 thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

1- This was changed in 1912 by the 17th Amendment.

Section 2 started details on House of Representatives, in section 3 we get details on the Senate. Interesting that they specify that each Senator gets one vote, but there’s no such language for Representatives.

Paragraph 2:

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.]2

2- This was changed by the 17th Amendment.

Elections for Senators are done in groups, every two years.

Paragraph 3:

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.

Similar requirements to being a Representative, with a higher age and citizen requirements.

Paragraph 4:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The famous job of breaking ties in the Senate.

Paragraph 5:

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.

The Senate gets to choose their leaders from among themselves.

Paragraph 6:

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.

The Senate gets to do impeachments and it takes a 2/3rds vote to to convict.

Paragraph 7:

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.

Here’s something that I hadn’t really thought about, the impeachment results is limited to removal and disqualification of office. They can’t bring criminal charges as part of the process, but such charges could still be brought through the normal legal channels.

The impeachment process has been used against three Presidents: Andrew Johnson (1868), Richard Nixon (1974) and Bill Clinton (1999). While the last two happened during my life time, I was was too young to remember Nixon.

The Nixon situation has all sorts of interesting details, one that I only recently read about was what a landslide the 1972 election was (for Nixon’s second term). He won the Electoral College 520 to 17 against George McGovern. The popular vote was massively lopsided as well, 47,169,911 to 29,170,383. Just two and half years later he would be resigning from office.

Other Constitution posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *