Question: "Resolved, That Cabinet Ministers should be allowed to participate in the debates of Congress"
Brief for the Affirmative:
M. I. MOTTE and E. G. WALKER.
Best general references; Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government, pp. 242-292; Bryce. American Commonwealth, vol. I ch. IX. Gamaliel Bradford, The Practical Working of Our Government, and in Annals of the Amer. Acad. of Pol. and Soc. Science, November 1891; P. 1-11 Report of Senate Committee 46 Congress, 3d Sess; Willard Brown. Atlantic Monthly, vol. 50. p. 95, July, 1882. Joseph Story on Constitution Section 869; Nation, vol. 28. 243 et passim. Pendleton's Speech, Cong Record, Apr. 28, 1879.
I. There is a want of confidence and co-operation between Congress and the Cabinet disastrous to good governments: Wilson, p. 278. - (a) Congress makes incessant exactions interfering with department business. - (b) The administration does not work as a whole; Bryce, p. 87. - (c) It is not possible to locate responsibility; Atlantic, p. 95.
II. These evils would be largely avoided if Cabinet members could participate in the debates, - (a) This is shown (1) by the example of England; Practical working of our Government, p. 13 f. and -(2) By the example of France and Italy; Annals of Amer. Acad., p. 5. - (b) Congress would better understand the needs of the country which are known to the executive department; Atlantic p. 96.- (c) There would be less opportunity for Cabinet officers to evade inquiries of Congress; Wilson, p. 271.
III. It would give the nation a representation and hence secure better legislation. - (a) By antagonizing vested interests: Annals of Am. Acad., p. 7. - (6) By making legislation "continuous": Practical working of Government p. 8. - (c) By improving the tone of debates. - (d) By affording an efficient opposition; Idem, p. 9 and (e) By harmonizing action of the executive and Congress; Atlantic, p. 98.
IV. No effictive argument has been brought against the scheme as a whole. - (a) It is constitutional; Story Section 869. - (b) Is supported by precedent: Debates of 1790. - (c) Favored by our best statesmen; Report of Senate Committee, and (d) Avoids evils of European ministries because cabinet ministers are independent of Congress for election: Workings of Government, p. 16.
Brief for the Negative.
G. P. COSTIGAN JR., and A. M. DAY.
General references: Dr. Snow, Papers of American Historical Association, IV, 323-8; Nation, XVI, 234-5; Lowell, Essays on Government, Introduction and No. 1; International Review, IV, 243-50; Speeches of Morrill, Cox and Thayer in Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 420-4, 437-44, 446-8; Morrill, Cong. Record, 46th Cong. 1st Session, pp. 971-4.
I. The change is unnecessary. - (a) Congressional legislation has on the whole been effective; Snow, 125. - (b) Congress is gradually working out a system much better adapted to our form of government; Hart, Atlantic, LVII, 385.
II. The change is ineffective. - (a) Mere right of debate would not enable cabinet to direct legislation: Snow, 123; Morrill, 424; Von Holst, Const. Law, Section 26. - (b) Information about the affairs of departments would not be more available. - (1) Cabinet officers would be under no compulsion to impart all their knowledge; Nation, XVI, 234. - 12) They could not be expected to furnish detailed information on demand; Morrill, 424.- (3) They would not be listened to when advocating measures repugnant to Congress - (4) Written reports furnish better basis for sound legislation, because poor speakers would fail to give clear expositions, while good speakers could mislead; Morrill, 422. - (5) The committee system would continue to control legislation: Hart, Atlantic, LVII. 380; Hoar, North Amer. Review, CXXVIII, 121-2; Nation, XVI, 235. - (c) Responsibility would not be centralized, for unless cabinet directed all legislation - (1) Private members would introduce conflicting bills. - (2) Cabinet would advance privately any measures known to be unpopular. - (3) Responsibility would not be felt in the lack of any penalty for bad measures; International Review, VII, 151; Nation, XVI, 234. - (d) Uniformity of legislation would not be gained unless cabinet officers were united in policy, which could happen only if the whole cabinet was responsible for the acts of each member.
III. The change is harmful. - (a) It would lower the dignity of - (1) The cabinet, because traditional hostility of cabinet and Congress would cause personal attacks, badgering, etc.: Morrill, 422; Cox, 442-3. - (2) Of President, for criticism would indirectly injure him.- (b) Business of departments would suffer from absence of heads; Morrill, 424. - (c) It would force President to appoint cabinet officers for parliamentary ability rather than for executive power; Nation, XXVIII, 243. - (d) It would increase party dissensions: Cox, 438; Hare, Const. Law, I, 178. - (e) Serious complications would arise when executive and legislative were of different parties.
IV. The change is contrary to the spirit, if not to the letter, of the constitution. - (a) Cabinet was intended to furnish advisors to President, and not to become a party machine; Von Holst, Const. Law, 91. - (b) The executive, with cabinet, was not intended to be allied to Congress, but to be a a check or balance; Thayer, 446; Hare, I, 180. - (c) It is fundamental in a democracy that the people should move the government, not that any body of men should control legislation; Snow, 127-8.