Constitution of the United States/Art. I/Sec. 5/Clause 4 Sessions

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Constitutional Law Treatise
Table of Contents
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Constitutional Law Outline
The Preamble
Article I Legislative Branch
Art. I, Section 1 Legislative Vesting Clause
Art. I, Section 2 House of Representatives
Art. I, Section 3 Senate
Art. I, Section 4 Congress
Art. I, Section 5 Proceedings
Art. I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities
Art. I, Section 7 Legislation
Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Art. I, Section 9 Powers Denied Congress
Art. I, Section 10 Powers Denied States
Article II Executive Branch
Art. II, Section 1 Function and Selection
Art. II, Section 2 Powers
Art. II, Section 3 Duties
Art. II, Section 4 Impeachment
Article III Judicial Branch
Art. III, Section 1 Vesting Clause
Art. III, Section 2 Justiciability
Art. III, Section 3 Treason
Article IV Relationships Between the States
Art. IV, Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause
Art. IV, Section 2 Interstate Comity
Art. IV, Section 3 New States and Federal Property
Art. IV, Section 4 Republican Form of Government
Article V Amending the Constitution
Article VI Supreme Law
Article VII Ratification
First Amendment: Fundamental Freedoms
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Free Speech Clause
Freedom of Association
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
Third Amendment: Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures
Fifth Amendment: Rights of Persons
Sixth Amendment: Rights in Criminal Prosecutions
Seventh Amendment: Civil Trial Rights
Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved to the States and the People
Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States
Twelfth Amendment: Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery
Thirteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition on Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Thirteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection and Other Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 1 Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 2 Apportionment of Representation
Fourteenth Amend., Section 3 Disqualification from Holding Office
Fourteenth Amend., Section 4 Public Debt
Fourteenth Amend., Section 5 Enforcement
Fifteenth Amendment: Right of Citizens to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 1 Right to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment: Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition of Liquor
Eighteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement of Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Suffrage
Twentieth Amendment: Presidential Term and Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 1 Terms
Twentieth Amend., Section 2 Meetings of Congress
Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 4 Congress and Presidential Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 5 Effective Date
Twentieth Amend., Section 6 Ratification
Twenty-First Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition
Twenty-First Amend., Section 1 Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-First Amend., Section 2 Importation, Transportation, and Sale of Liquor
Twenty-First Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Second Amendment: Presidential Term Limits
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 1 Limit
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 2 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Third Amendment: District of Columbia Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 1 Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fourth Amendment: Abolition of Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 1 Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 2 Vice President Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 3 Declaration by President
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 4 Declaration by Vice President and Others
Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Reduction of Voting Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 1 Eighteen Years of Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Seventh Amendment: Congressional Compensation

Article I Legislative Branch

Section 5 Proceedings

Clause 4 Sessions

Clause Text
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Adjournment of Congress[edit | edit source]

In Article I, Section 4, Clause 2, the Framers stipulated when Congress would assemble and begin conducting its official business.[1] In Article I, Section 5, Clause 4, the Framers gave the two chambers of Congress--the House of Representatives and the Senate--authority to adjourn.[2] The House and Senate can use this power independent of each other subject to the requirement that if one Chamber wants to adjourn for more than three days, it requires the other's consent.[3] If the two houses cannot agree to adjourn, the Constitution gives the President power to adjourn them.[4] Article II, Section 3, provides in part "in Case of Disagreement between [the House of Representatives and the Senate], with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, [the President] may adjourn them, to such Time as he shall think proper."[5]

In his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Justice Joseph Story reasoned that by empowering Congress to determine when to adjourn, the Framers prevented the President from using the royal governor tactic of squelching dissent by adjourning colonial legislatures.[6] Consequently, Article I, Section 5, Clause 4 checked the President's power over Congress.[7] Likewise, by requiring the two chambers of Congress to agree to any adjournment longer than three days, Clause 4 prevented either house from frustrating the legislative process by adjourning. In addition, by authorizing the President to resolve disagreements between the two chambers on when they would adjourn, the Framers created an incentive for the chambers to cooperate.

  1. Art. I, Sec. 4, Clause 2 Assembly ("The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day."). Article I, Section 4, Clause 2 was superseded by ratification of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933. Twentieth Amendment Presidential Term and Succession ("The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.").
  2. Art. I, Sec. 5, Clause 4 Sessions. For additional information on adjournments, see Richard S. Beth & Valerie Heitshusen, Cong. Rsch. Serv., R42977, Sessions, Adjournments, and Recesses of Congress (2016), [1]. Beth and Heitshusen state: "In either a daily or an annual context, generally speaking, a session is a period when a chamber is formally assembled as a body and can, in principle, engage in business. A session begins when a chamber convenes, or assembles, and ends when it adjourns. In the period between convening and adjournment, the chamber is said to be 'in session.' Once a chamber adjourns, it may be said to 'stand adjourned,' and until it reconvenes, it may be said to be 'out of session,' or 'in adjournment.' The period from a chamber's adjournment until its next convening is also often called an adjournment. The term recess, by contrast, is generally used to refer to a temporary suspension of a session, or a break within a session. For a break within the daily session, this term is a formal designation; for a break within an annual session, the term is only colloquial, but is in general use. In either context, a recess begins when the chamber recesses, or 'goes into recess.' For most purposes, it can be said that a recess, like an adjournment, ends when the chamber reconvenes. During the period between recessing and reconvening, the chamber is said to be 'in recess' or to 'stand in recess.' When a chamber reconvenes from a recess, the suspended session resumes." Id.
  3. Art. I, Sec. 5, Clause 4 Sessions.
  4. Art. II, Section 3 Duties. See Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 1557 (1833) ("The power to adjourn congress in cases of disagreement is equally indispensable; since it is the only peaceable way of terminating a controversy, which can lead to nothing but distraction in the public councils."). For discussion on the President's ability to conduct business when the Senate is in recess, see Art. II, Sec. 2, Cl. 3: Overview of Recess Appointments Clause.
  5. Art. II, Section 3 Duties.
  6. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 842 (1833).
  7. Id. at § 841. Justice Story further noted that "[v]ery different is the situation of parliament under the British constitution; for the king may, at any time, put an end to a session by a prorogation of parliament, or terminate the existence of parliament by a dissolution, and a call of a new parliament." Id.