MVB Senate speech on the judiciary, 10 May 1826

MVB Senate speech on the judiciary, 10 May 1826


On motion of Mr. VAN BUREN, the Senate proceeded to consider the report of the Committee on the Judiciary relative to the conference asked by the House of Representatives, on the subject of the Judiciary Bill.

Mr. VAN BUREN said he would detain the Senate but a few moments. The report spoke the views of the committee; and, in deference to the House of Representatives, the resolution provided for its transmission to that House. The opinion of the committee was founded on two assumptions—first, that the appointment of Conferees on the part of the Senate would be a waiver of its vote of adherence; and secondly, that a large majority of the Senate are opposed to such waiver. Although the books of precedents do not say expressly that the appointment of conferees, on the part of the House adhering, in effect rescinds the vote of adherence, yet such is certainly the good sense of the case; and it appears that the other House have asked the conference under that view of the matter. Were it not so, the conferees would meet on unequal terms. Upon the other point, the members of the Senate will speak for themselves. If they have anything to yield, they will, of course, vote against the resolution; if not, the meeting of the conferees would be an unavailable ceremony. Mr. VAN BUREN said, that he had understood that some objection had been made to the form of the amendment, so far as it relates to the residence of the Judges. By the first section of the bill, the appointment of three additional Justices of the Supreme Court is authorized, and they are placed, to all intents and purposes, on the same footing with the present Judges. In the amendment, they are described as Judges to be appointed for the three new circuits, and required to reside in their respective circuits. The bill from the House authorizes the President, in terms, to designate the circuits in which they are to serve; and the amendment does so by necessary implication. If the amendment of the Senate had been regarded as essentially objectionable, on that ground, it would have been in order for the House of Representatives to have amended the amendment; not having done so, he was satisfied that the objection was not regarded as entitled to as much weight as was by some supposed.

Fully satisfied that no good could be effected by a conference, he was opposed to it. He thought the danger of losing the bill would be increased by the measure. The bill was now in the other House. He could readily conceive that the members of that House, who were opposed to the amendment, might be disposed to send the bill here with a vote of adherence, in the hope that the Senate would yield, who would not vote to adhere if they knew that the success of their votes would certainly lose the bill. Convinced that the Senate would not recede, he thought it most advisable that the other House should act upon the bill with full knowledge upon the point.

Mr. VAN BUREN said, that the committee had thought proper to notice the idea that, in voting to adhere, in the first instance, the Senate had indicated a want of respect for the other House. They had done so, because they had seen, with surprize and regret, that such construction had elsewhere been put upon the act. Nothing, he was certain, was farther from the truth. The Senate is incapable of treating, otherwise than with perfect respect and decorum, any other branch of the Government, and least of all could they be wanting in this respect to the House of Representatives. The temperance, not to say forbearance, which the Senate has, on more than one occasion during the present session, evinced, ought, he thought, to have saved it from the injurious supposition, that such could have been its motive. It is true that, in some of the ancient books of precedents, in the English Parliament, it is so considered; but it is equally true, that the course now pursued, had been repeatedly pursued before, and had not heretofore received so unfavorable a construction. There is nothing in the nature of the act that calls for it. The committee had, however, thought it advisable to disclaim it, in behalf of the Senate. Mr. V. B. said, he would very much regret that the difference between the two Houses should cause the loss of the bill. He hoped that such would not be the case. But, if it should be otherwise—if the difference should prove irreconcileable, he saw no reason why the circumstance should occasion the least asperity or heartburnings between the two Houses. The question was one exclusively of a public character, totally disconnected, as far as he knew, from personal considerations of any description. If the two Houses viewed the public interest in different lights, it was their duty to adhere to the course which they respectively believed best calculated to promote it. Differences of that description were incident to all public proceedings, and the consequences, however much to be regretted, should be submitted to with dignity and moderation.

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Mr. VAN BUREN said that the Judiciary Committee of the other House had not made any report to which access could be had, to ascertain what were the views of the other House on asking a conference. But from what he could understand from the course of the discussion on the subject, and the explanations which had been made, they were of the character which he had stated would be the effect of appointing a committee of conference on the part of the Senate. The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House had said, that the appointment of conferees on the part of the Senate, would be a vote of waiver on the part of the Senate, and, that, if it were not so, the conferees ought not to meet the conferees on the part of the Senate: for, one party coming to the conference with a declaration that they would adhere to what they had done, the parties would not meet on equal terms. No doubt, according to the practice of Parliament, a conference might be held, after several votes of adherence. The two Houses might come together on any subject, but that course of proceeding was not applicable to the present case. There was an express rule of the two Houses, that, after a vote of adherence on the part of each House, the bill must be lost. The two Houses might then confer, but not upon the bill. There was one view of this subject, which he thought was entitled to much weight. If the Senate did intend to have conferred with the House, it ought to have been done when the bill was here; but now the ground was changed. The bill originated in the other House, and, if it was lost, it ought to be lost in that House. The origin of the business was there, and the final vote ought to be there also. Such would not have been the case, if the Senate had asked for a conference in the first instance; such would not now be the case if the conference were agreed to; and the bill would be lost in the Senate. This, Mr. V. B. said, was some little responsibility, and every member of the Senate would judge for himself how much. In pursuance of a reasonable object, they would be willing to take that, or any other responsibility; but, if they were determined to adhere, it would be but idle talk, seeing they were not willing to change the condition of the affair. To those who came from the other portions of the Union, having no particular interest in the questions, this might be a matter of trifling importance; but, to the other portions of the country, it was but an act of justice to them, after having voted to adhere, not now to change the question by putting it in the power of the other House to send the bill here to be lost.

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