Page images
PDF
EPUB

thoroughly on our behalf. We number thousands and surely thousands of men at the polls cannot afford to take time to weigh carefully the merits of a dozen or a score of candidates. Nor is it needful that we should since the chief officer is directly responsible to us and cannot shift his responsibility.” As President Lowell says,

the need of the people in this respect is similar to the need of a merchant, whose business has outgrown his old methods of personal management For successful large-scale administration, he must appoint to act under him trustworthy agents, who will relieve him of detail without taking from him the final direction and supervision of the business.

117.

The constantly increasing number of public officials strengthens the arguments in favor of some adequate method of selection other than by popular vote. The adoption of the direct primary method of nomination makes a hitherto unknown call upon the voters' time and attention and emphasizes the need for keeping the number of elective officers at a minimum. Preferential voting, if widely adopted, will demand a more careful estimate of the relative merits of candidates than is necessary at present and should also be considered in connection with the short ballot. In its larger aspect the short ballot movement is part of the

Larger Aspect movement for more efficiently organized government, govern- of the ment of centralized responsibility organized not simply to exist Movement. but to accomplish definite objects. Such a government requires the popular election of one carefully watched and controlled chief officer, not of a variety of seldom noticed and consequently irresponsible officials of similar rank. Proposals like those tending to give states commission governments of a type somewhat like that of commission governed cities show the far-reaching changes that are being thought and written about. A reduction in the number of elective officials and a centralization of responsibility characterize them all. Closely connected with the creation of more efficient and consequently more powerful state governments in the minds of many reformers is the use of

Short Ballot

1Public Opinion and Popular Gorernment, 108-9.

2See Equity, July, 1913. Governor Hodge of Kansas, in a special message to the legislature in 1913, urged that the bicameral legislature should be replaced by a small body elected from Congressional districts.

new and elaborate methods of control, such as the recall and the initiative and referendum.

Inseparable from the whole modern movement for better government is a change of attitude on the part of the people toward the government and of government officials toward the people.

The transition from government imposed by the strong upon the weak to government achieved by the willing coöperation of citizens involves a great revolution. That revolution is yet in its early beginnings. Democracy will not have had a fair trial until its principles have become generally understood and accepted. It calls for a new type of statesman, a new standard for the superior man. The old order called for a man who could break the wills of the multitude and render them submissive. The new order calls for the man of insight, of sympathy and discernment, who perceives most clearly the needs and aspirations of the people.

TENNESSEE NOTE.-The Constitution of 1870 requires the popular election of the governor, members of the legislature, five members of the supreme court, the judges of the circuit and chancery and other inferior courts, attorneys for the state in districts in which there are judges having criminal jurisdiction, clerks of inferior courts, sheriffs, trustees, registers, justices of the peace and constables.* The terms vary from two to eight years. There may be several senators and representatives from a single large county, in which case the ballot is correspondingly lengthened. Each civil district must have at least two justices of the peace, and districts including county towns must have two constables. The governor and legislature are elected in the November, the others in the August, elections.

A number of important statutory oflicers are elected by the people, for example, the three members of the Railroad Commission, the five judges of the Court of Civil Appeals, officers provided for in city char: ters, county tax assessors and certain officers provided for in particular counties.

The constitution requires the legislature to elect the secretary of state, comptroller and treasurer. It requires the governor to appoint the adjutant general and his other staff officers and special judges of the supreme court in case any or all of the regular judges are disqualified to sit in a particular case. It requires the judges of the supreme court to appoint the attorney general of the state and the clerks of the court, and chancellors to appoint their clerks and masters. Militia offcers must be elected by persons composing their companies, regiments,

Macy and Gannaway, Comparative Free Gorernment, p. XVI.
III, 2; II, 3; VI, 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 15; VII, 1.

etc. Commanding officers of regiments, etc., must appoint their staff officers. The justices of the peace must elect the coroner and the ranger in their respective counties. No county office created by the legislature can be filled otherwise than by the people or the county court.*

Viewed in the light of the short ballot doctrine the number of elective state offices is not very objectionably long, but in the county elections the number of offices to be filled is not only too great for careful popular consideration, but the offices are too insignificant to call forth popular interest. The large votes piled up, especially for justices of the peace, are due to the efforts of the candidates and the personal interest or friendship of the voters in minute constituencies.

CHAPTER X.

THE MAKING OF STATUTE LAW BY THE REPRESENTATVIES OF

THE PEOPLE,5

118.

The most striking thing about American state law-making bodies is the enormity of their output. Twelve thousand stat.

Huge Mass of utes per year is an exceedingly conservative estimate of their Legislation. productivity, and it is probable that not more than one-third of the bills introduced ever become law. When it is remembered that in most of the states sessions of perhaps three months' duration are held only once in two years, the statistics of laws passed become incredible.

The explanation of course is that a very large proportion of the statutes are ill-considered to begin with and unconsidered by the legislatures that pass them. Hastily drawn and often passed mechanically while members read their newspapers, these laws remain none the less to puzzle the courts and absolutely bewilder the ordinary man who is so officious as to aspire to

*III, 17; VII, 3; VI, 11, 5, 13; VIII, 1, 2; VII, 1 ; XI, 17. The governor may fill temporarily certain vacancies--III, 14. See, also, VII. 2. 4.

General References : Reinsch, P. S., American Legislatures and Legislative
Methods; Jones, C. L., Statute Law Making in the United States; Stimson, F. J.,
Popular Law-Making, Dealey, J. Q., Growth of American State Constitutions,
Kaiser, J. B., Legislative and Afunicipal Reference Libraries.
See Dealey, op. cit., 224 ; Stimson, op. cit., 117.

8

119. Legislatures - Bicameral.

some slight acquaintance with the laws under which he lives in this land of popular rule.?

This legislative fecundity, irrespective of the merit of the laws enacted, gives rise to problems that need to be studied on their own account. It lends especial interest, also, to a study of the organization and procedure of the legislatures.

In every state the legislature-usually called the General Assembly—is divided into two houses, a Senate, invariably considered the “upper” house and in size smaller than the other, and a House of Representatives or, as it is called in Virginia, a House of Delegates. The number of senators varies from seventeeno to sixty-three;' the number of representatives from thirty-five to three hundred and ninety.

The reasons for making the state legislatures bicameral are found in current thought and practice at the time of the Revolution: England had two houses and in the colonies, besides the lower or popular house there had been the governor's council which was elected by the lower house or chosen by the king or proprietors. The council was the prototype of the state senate, but obviously its continuation as the latter was founded on habit alone, for under the new regime both the senate and the house of representatives emanated from and represented the people. The case was different with the federal congress, because the United States Senators, elected by the state

"There is a sprinkling of purely freak legislation. The following statute is an excellent example, -Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas :

SEC. 1. That the term “automobile" and "motor vehicle" as used in this act shall be construed to include all types and grades of motor vehicles propelled by electricity, steam, gasoline, or other source of energy, commonly known as automobiles, motor vehicles, or horseless carriages, using the public highways and not running on rails or tracks. Nothing in this section shall be construed as in any way preventing, obstructing, impeding, embarrassing or in any other manner or form infringing upon the prerogative of any political chauffeur to run an automobile band-wagon at any rate he sees fit compatible with the safety of the occupants thereof; provided however, that not less than 10 por more than 20 ropes be allowed to trail behind this vehicle when in motion, in order to permit ihose who have been so fortunate to escape with their polit. ical lives an opportunity to be dragged to death; and provided further, that whenever a mangled and bleeding political corpse implores for mercy, the driver of the vehicle shall, in accordance with the provisions of this bill, "Throw out the life-line."-(Laws of Kan., 1903, ch. 67.).

Jokery often occur in otherwise serious bills. Concerning an interesting example, see Tennessee Historical Magazine, I, 196-7.

&Three states originally had single-chambered legislatures, but they had a governor's counsel as a check. The last (Vt.) was abolished in 1836.

"Del.
Minn.

"Five states have more than 200 representatives ; thirty states more than 100 ; only twelve less than 75.

3Property qualifications were usually greater for Senators.

120. Term, Ap

legislatures, theoretically represented the states as separate entities. The early American statesmen were fond of studying Greek and Roman models, which likewise suggested the twohouse system. Furthermore, distrust of the masses was a strong incentive toward the creation of an upper chamber, representing more particularly the propertied classes, to act as a balance to and check against the more popular house of representatives. +

In three states the term of office of both senators and representatives is four years;' in thirteen it is two years, and in portionment

and Qualifi. two it is one year.? In the remaining thirty states the senators cations of

Legislators. serve for a longer term than the representatives. In one state senators serve two years and representatives one; in another, three and one, respectively, and in twenty-eight, four and two, respectively.

Illinois attempts to secure some representation for parties who in no legislative district can control a plurality among the voters, by allowing each elector to “cast as many votes for one candidate as there are representatives to be elected, or distribute the same, or equal parts thereof, among the candidates as he shall see fit; and the candidates highest in votes shall be declared elected.”

The legislators are sometimes apportioned among the parts of the states according to the number of the electors, but usually according to population, subject to various additional restrictions. The county or other local subdivision is occasionally the basis of representation, irrespective of population. Frequently the provision is found that, in forming legislative districts county lines shall not be crossed, that each county having at least a certain ratio of the population that would in due course entitle

4

See Wilson, The State (1906 Ed.), pp. 487-8.
Ala., La.. Miss.
be. g. Conn., Ga., Mich., Tenn.
Me., Mass.

*Frequently half or a third of them are elected at each election of representatives.

'N. Y.
IN. J.
2e. O., Cal., Ia., Ky., Pa.
3IV, 7 and 8.
*e. 9., Ark. VIII, 1, 2, 3; Tenn. II, 5, 6.

Se. 9., Okla. V, 9, 10, 11 ; Pa. II, 16, 17. Ore. (IV, 6, 7) says "white population.

«See Md. III, 2, 3, 4, 5; R. I. VI, 1, Amend. XIII, 1. In R. I. this has de. veloped into a notorious rotten borough system. Vt. II, 13.

« PreviousContinue »