Interpretation: Article I, Section 6 (2023)

Article I, Section 6 contains several clauses of major importance. It begins by specifying that senators and representatives will be paid by the United States Treasury Department and not by the states they represent, as was customary in the Articles of Confederation. This emphasizes that senators and representatives are employees of the federal government and not the state in which they were elected.

Article I, Section 6 also states that Senators and Representatives shall not be questioned in court or by the President about any speech or debate they give or participate in in the Senate or House of Representatives. This guarantees broad freedom of debate in Congress.

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Article I, Section 6 also provides that Senators and Representatives shall not be appointed to posts whose salaries have been increased during their tenure in Congress. This waiver clause is a simple ethical rule that prevents members of Congress from raising the salary for a leadership position and then asking the President to nominate them for that position so they can benefit from the raise they voted for.

An interesting question raised by this clause is whether a senator or congressman who was serving in Congress when the salary for an executive position was increased can be appointed to that position if the salary for the position is subsequently raised original level is lowered. This scenario has happened several times in recent history. When it first surfaced, the question was whether President Richard Nixon could appoint Senator William Saxbe as his Attorney General, even though Congress had increased the salary for the position while Saxbe was a Senator (after salary returned to its normal level) . , Saxbe effectively took over). The so-called "Saxbe comparison" surfaced again in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan considered nominating Senator Orrin Hatch for the Supreme Court, even though judges' salaries had increased when Hatch was a Senator. In that case, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a statement saying that correcting Saxbe would render the appointment unconstitutional. More recently, however, the same Justice Department office came to the opposite conclusion, paving the way for President Barack Obama to nominate Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, even though the secretary's salary increased during her tenure. Senate.verJustice Department memos to attorneys general.

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Finally, and most importantly, Article I, Section 6 states that "no person holding office in the United States shall during his tenure be a member of either house." This provision is of fundamental structural importance, as it prevents the appointment of powerful senators or congressmen to the office of president, thus reinforcing the separation of the legislative and executive branches. Without this incompatibility clause, powerful senators and lawmakers are likely to demand cabinet appointments, and the president would likely have to comply. This would create a kind of parliamentary government where the president is independent but all key state officials are congressmen. Thanks to the incompatibility clause, there is a separation of powers in the USAand staff segregation. The same individuals cannot exercise legislative and executive (or judicial) power at the same time. Members of Congress are prohibited from holding executive or judicial offices. For a more detailed discussion of this clause,verSteven G Calabresi and Joan L Larsen,One Person, One Position: Separation of Powers or Separation of Personnel?,79 Cornell L. Rev. 1045-1157 (1994); Jay Wexler,The Strange Clauses: Understanding the Constitution Through Ten of Its Strangest Provisions, Kap.1 (2012).

The question sometimes arises: What counts as "office under the United States"? For example, one scholar suggested thisthe position of President is not such a positionbecause the President is in the chaironethe executive rather than being an official in it. If this scholar were right (and none of us believe he is), then it would follow that the President of the Chamber of Deputies and the President pro tempore of the Senate could act as President without violating the incompatibility clause. What about members of the National Guard or reserve troops? Can one member of Congress serve in the reserve at the same time? In the 1970s, a federal court faced with this issue ruled that such an agreement violated the irreconcilability clause, but the Supreme Court later dismissed the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs were not entitled to address the matter. Therefore the problem remains unsolved.verSchlesinger v. reservists to end the war(1974).

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The authors added the incompatibility clause to the constitution as a rule of constitutional ethics, and no one at the foundation foresaw the profound structural impact it would have on American government. British monarchs paved the way for control of the House of Commons in the 18th century, offering members of the House of Commons lucrative positions of leadership to secure members' votes on matters important to the king. The drafters of the US Constitution were repelled by this behavior and so added the incompatibility clause to the Constitution as an ethical rule to prevent such corruption in the United States. An unintended consequence of the authors' ethical incompatibility rule was that by making it unconstitutional for powerful members of Congress to demand cabinet appointments, it gave the president too much power.

There is no incompatibility clause for executive and judicial officers and as such there is a long history of judges in executive and judicial offices. Chief Justice John Jay therefore negotiated a peace treaty with Great Britain as ambassador; Chief Justice John Marshall served simultaneously as Secretary of State and Chief Justice in February 1801; Judge Robert Jackson was the Nazi-allied chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials; and Chief Justice Earl Warren served as head of an executive commission, the Warren Commission, investigating who was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The American Bar Association disapproves of joint judge and executive office for obvious ethical reasons, and no judge has recently held executive office.

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There is also no federal constitutional incompatibility clause that stands in the way of the joint exercise of federal and state offices. However, many state statutes prohibit it. Most modern constitutions have strict incompatibility clauses based on the sensible principle of one person, one office.

The incompatibility clause of Article I, Section 6 may be broad, but it is perhaps the main reason why the US never developed a parliamentary system of government. Because members of Congress are barred from holding senior positions, they have created a very powerful system of parliamentary committees that oversee every division of the presidential cabinet. The Senate and House Committees on Foreign Relations oversee the State Department, just as the Senate and House Judiciary Committees oversee the Justice Department. The system of congressional committees is the stunted growth of a parliamentary government in the United States that cannot exercise executive power because the incompatibility clause prevents congressional committee chairs from calling for cabinet appointments. Thus, the incompatibility clause guarantees an independent executive power headed by the President of the Republic and is one of the most important, albeit overlooked, clauses of the Constitution.

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What is the main point of Article 1 Section 6? ›

Section 6 Rights and Disabilities

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.

What does Article I Section 6 mean? ›

Article I, Section 6 also says that Senators and Representatives shall not be questioned in court or by the President for any speech or debate they give or participate in on the floor of the Senate or the House. This assures ample freedom of debate in Congress.

How does Article I Section 6 of the Constitution protect members of Congress? ›

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

What was the main purpose of Article 6? ›

Article Six of the United States Constitution establishes the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land, forbids a religious test as a requirement for holding a governmental position, and holds the United States under the Constitution responsible for debts incurred ...

What does Article 1 Section 6 of the Constitution say quizlet? ›

Section 6 of Article 1 looks at the privileges, restrictions, and compensation of anyone who is a Senator or a Representative. These civil officers get paid by the Treasury of the United States. They cannot be arrested, unless it is for a felony, treason, or a breach of peace.

What does the speech or debate clause in Article I Section 6 of the Constitution mean for a member of Congress? ›

Speech and debate clause protects Congress members from lawsuits over legislative speech. The general purpose of the speech and debate clause is to protect members of Congress from having to worry that anything they say in the course of legislative activities will implicate them in a lawsuit.

Why is the amendment 6 Important? ›

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you.

What promise does Section 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution make to our allies? ›

Section 1.

The new US government established by the Constitution promised to take on all the debts racked up by the older, weaker national government of the Articles of Confederation.

What does Article 1 Section 6 Clause 2 of the Constitution mean? ›

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be ...

What are the amendments from 1 6? ›

Ratified December 15, 1791.
  • Amendment I. Freedoms, Petitions, Assembly. ...
  • Amendment II. Right to bear arms. ...
  • Amendment III. Quartering of soldiers. ...
  • Amendment IV. Search and arrest. ...
  • Amendment V. Rights in criminal cases. ...
  • Amendment VI. Right to a fair trial. ...
  • Amendment VII. Rights in civil cases. ...
  • Amendment VIII. Bail, fines, punishment.

What is the goal of the Speech or Debate Clause of Article 1 Section 6 of the Constitution quizlet? ›

The important and necessary goal of this provision of the Constitution is to protect freedom of legislative debate.

What is the main point of Article 1? ›

Article I assigns the responsibility for making laws to the Legislative Branch (Congress). Congress is divided into two parts, or “Houses,” the House of Representatives and the Senate.

What is the main focus of Article 1? ›

Article I describes the design of the legislative branch of US Government -- the Congress. Important ideas include the separation of powers between branches of government (checks and balances), the election of Senators and Representatives, the process by which laws are made, and the powers that Congress has.

What is Article 1 short summary? ›

The supremacy of the people through their elected representatives is recognized in Article I, which creates a Congress consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The positioning of Congress at the beginning of the Constitution affirms its status as the “First Branch” of the federal government.

Why are the first three articles so important? ›

The single most important part of the Preamble is the first three words, “We the people…” which point out where our government receives its authority from, the people that are governed. The U.S. Constitution was created by the people of one nation, not a monarchy led by a distant tyrannical king.

What does Article 1 said? ›

Article 1 of the constitution says that India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states and the territory of India consists of that of the states, union territories specified in the First Schedule and other acquired territories. The acquired territories can be converted in to a state/states as per Article 2.

What is Article 1 Section 1 in simple terms? ›

Article I Legislative Branch

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

What does Article 1 say quizlet? ›

Article 1. gives Congress its powers and limits. Congress is the branch of the government who can make laws for the country. Article 1 also creates the two sections of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

What is the purpose of Article I quizlet? ›

Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress its powers and limits. Congress is the legislative branch of the government, meaning they are the ones to make laws for the United States of America. The article also creates the two sections of Congress, which is called a bicameral legislature.


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