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Bicameral Legislature Background Overview

Bicameral Legislature Background Overview

The Background and Significance of Article 1: Bicameral Legislature


Article 1 of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the government, which is responsible for creating, debating, and passing laws. One of the most critical aspects of the legislative branch is that it is bicameral, meaning it is composed of two houses, the Senate and House of Representatives. In this article, we will discuss the historical background and significance of the bicameral legislature in the United States.

Section 1: Historical Background

The idea of a bicameral legislature dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. The Roman Republic had a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and the People’s Assembly. The British Parliament, which heavily influenced American constitutional thinking, also has a bicameral structure consisting of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

During the drafting of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers debated the structure of the legislative branch. Initially, some delegates favored a unicameral legislature, while others preferred a bicameral system. A bicameral legislature was adopted as it was believed that it would provide a more balanced and democratic approach to lawmaking. The idea was that the two houses of Congress would represent different interests and, as a result, would provide a more thorough dialogue and deliberation on proposed laws.

Section 2: The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives, which is also referred to as the lower house of Congress, was designed to represent the people on the basis of population. The number of representatives granted to each state is calculated based on the state’s population.

Each representative in the House is elected by the citizens of their state and serves a two-year term. The House is responsible for initiating revenue bills, impeaching federal officials, and proposing legislation on various issues such as taxation and foreign relations.

Section 3: The Senate

The Senate, which is also referred to as the upper house of Congress, is designed to represent the states equally. Each state is represented by two senators, regardless of population size. Senators serve a six-year term, with one-third of the Senate up for reelection every two years.

The Senate’s primary responsibilities include approving treaties made by the President, confirming Presidential appointments to federal offices, and acting as a court for impeachment proceedings. The Senate also shares the responsibility of proposing and passing legislation on various issues with the House of Representatives.

Section 4: The Importance of Bicameralism

The bicameral structure of the legislative branch reflects the principle of federalism, which is a fundamental concept of the United States Constitution. Federalism is a system of government wherein power is divided between the federal government and the individual states. The bicameral structure gives representation to both the people and the states, which is an essential component of federalism.

The bicameral legislature also ensures that proposed laws undergo a thorough review by both houses, providing a system of checks and balances that helps prevent hasty, ill-considered lawmaking. Different interests represented in the two houses lead to a more comprehensive dialogue and ultimately ensure that the lawmaking process reflects the will of the people.

The concept of a bicameral legislature has its foundations as early as Ancient Greece and Rome. Though a more modern application of bicameral legislature is most evident in medieval Europe, when two houses composed of the aristocrats and the commoners was developed for representation of the estates within a realm.

The essential purpose of a bicameral legislature was to provide for representation of both the people or citizens of a nation and the collective states or provinces in the government system. The representation of both factions in one body of legislature is to provide for a method of passing legislation or laws by requiring a majority for approval. This concurrent majority provides for the ability of passing or approving legislature that is not one-sided, or favoring a particular faction in a distinct fashion.

The United States bicameral legislature, or Congress, is often cited as a prime example for bicameralism. However, there are different types of bicameral legislatures employed by different governments throughout the world.

The Federal bicameral system is the one that is most commonly associated with the integral concept of bicameral legislation. The United States, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the European Union all employ a bicameral system. However, the method or structure in which it is put into effect varies from country to country.

A version of bicameral legislature that is considered as the classical structure is one that consists of having two Houses in which the democratic process and the federalism principle are combined in the sense of representation. The lower House is comprised of members based upon population numbers of each state or province, which are elected by the citizens of each state. The upper House is comprised of an equal number of representatives from each state and are chosen by state legislatures. The United States Congress, as well as Mexico and Australia, employ this particular bicameral system.