What Exactly Does the Constitution Mean by a State Legislature?

The most important question is whether we can provide a consistent response to the significance of this term along with a significant number of different constitutional exemptions which both fits the constitutional text and supplies a plausible response.

This is essential for many reasons. First, it supplies an originalist response to a difficult interpretive issue –something significant in its own right which also illustrates the power of originalism as an interpretive method. Nevertheless, it’s also significant since it addresses two of the most important questions involving elections lately –questions like (1) whether courts may utilize state constitutional provisions to displace laws passed by state legislatures that govern the presidential elections and (2) whether state referenda may be employed to bypass state legislative redistricting conclusions by delegating redistricting decisions to separate commissions.

The Constitution’s regular use of”state legislatures” takes two chief concerns to be answered. 1 question involves whether an entity other than the state legislature can take an act when the Constitution specifies that action to the state legislature. Does that provision permit the state Constitution to override the state legislature’s decision as to the way of appointing the electors? And even if it does, will the courts enforce that constitutional provision to the detriment of the state legislature? From the 2020 election, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court used the state to override the election legislation the state legislature had enacted.

A similar dilemma that arises here happens when the country, either through its own constitution or some other means, assigns a conclusion of the state legislature to a different thing. Does this provision permit the state constitution or the voters through a referendum to assign redistricting decisions to an independent commission instead of the state legislature? Some nations have done precisely the Supreme Court in 2015 accepted of this action in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Comm’n. My short answer to these questions is that the United States Constitution prevents the state or the Republicans from delegating any of these decisions to anybody other than the state legislature.

The next question raised by the state legislature provisions involves which thing makes a decision once the state legislature is assigned that job. Is the decision to be created by the state legislature appropriate –which is, both legislative houses but without the chance for the governor to veto it? Or can it be produced by the state legislature with chance for a gubernatorial veto? Is the practice right, and if so, why? I assert that the Constitution draws a distinction between tasks such as your state legislature that demand enacting laws and tasks which don’t.

State Legislatures or Constitutions and Popular Votes

Let me begin with the very first question. Can the state constitution make a decision rather than the state legislature? The short answer is no. The U.S. Constitution means exactly what it says. The simple fact that the state legislature has been assigned the conclusion means the state (particularly if enacted in part by an entity other than the state legislature) can’t override the state legislature. The U.S. Constitution takes priority over the state constitution. This implies that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court acted unconstitutionally prior to this 2020 presidential elections when it depended upon the state to override the state statute which had demanded a mail in ballot to be received by 8:00 PM on election night and held that the ballot may be received up to three days after the election.

Similarly, if the individuals of this country, through a favorite vote permitted by the state constitution, then assign the conclusion on how to hold congressional elections to a redistricting commission, that also is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court in Arizona Independent Redistricting Comm’n (2015) sought to defend the constitutionality of these commissions by asserting that the individuals of the country are exercising legislative power and so constitute a state legislature. However, the expression”state legislature” doesn’t refer to anybody or whatever exercises legislative power. Rather, it refers to a specific type of institution and so the individuals of this nation in a favorite vote are not a state legislature. The only real authorized methods to combat gerrymandering is via state or congressional legislation.

The individuals of the country don’t take recesses. The Constitution may consider some variety in forms of state legislatures, however, it doesn’t consider a favorite vote of those as a state legislature.

Now, consider the next question. On occasion the practice treats the state legislature as only the two homes and in other occasions it treats it because the two homes together with presentment to the Senate. However, how can that practice be produced consistent with the constitutional text?

Here, the response turns on the type of activity that is assigned to the state legislature. If the activity involves passing a legislation , then the state legislature may utilize its normal process for passing of a legislation, which in nearly all countries involves the chance of a gubernatorial veto. Thus, if the Constitution confers to the state legislature the power to govern”the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections” for members of this House of Representatives,” it contemplates an election governed by laws enacted by the state legislature. The legislature can then use its ordinary process for passing such laws.

By contrast, if the activity is only a vote on an issue that doesn’t require the passing of a legislation but rather is simply a part of a procedure established by the Constitution, then the Constitution specifies the job entirely to the state legislature, without the Senate’s participation. Since selecting a Senator doesn’t involve passing of a legislation, the governor is not involved. A similar effect applies to this ratification of constitutional amendments, which doesn’t involve passing of a law, but is simply a part of a two part procedure established by the Constitution.

If that is the distinction which the Constitution brings, then how do we derive from the text? To put it differently, how do we derive two different meanings from largely the exact identical language, and how do we then determine which of these meanings apply in which scenarios? Let us begin with deriving two different meanings from the exact identical language. Significantly, this terminology is capable of both meanings. On occasion the words say legislature are used to mean only the two houses–that which we can call”the state legislature proper.” Sometimes, the words have been used to refer to the two houses of the state legislature together with presentment to the governor–as if a person refers to a law as having been enacted by the state legislature, despite the fact that the governor has been involved. Thus, the language is perfectly consistent with both meanings.

Which of the two meanings was used depends on the context. In the instance of this Constitution delegating a job that involves passing of a legislation, like regulating the times, places, and manner of holding congressional elections, the context suggests enactment by the normal state legislative process for passing a law. It doesn’t need to say that explicitly since it’s recognized that such activities would typically be enacted by means of laws. By contrast, in the instance of this Constitution delegating a job, like selecting a Senator that doesn’t involve passing a legislation, the word”state legislature” has its more straightforward or proper significance.

The hardest source to interpret is that the one regulating the selection of the Electoral College. The provision says”Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors…” Historically, it appears that state legislatures have proceeded in two ways under this provision. When the legislature chosen the electors, as happened in the early years of this Republic, the legislature appropriate would make the decision. When the legislature allowed an election to choose the electors, the legislature did so through the normally lawmaking procedure with an chance for gubernatorial veto.

Interpreting the supply to authorize this practice is something of a struggle. An individual would need to know the supply to require that the legislature act by legislation when legislation is a requirement and through the legislature appropriate when a law is not required. That might require reading the supply to say”Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature by legislation or by itself, as the conditions require, may direct…” Is this a permissible Recruitment interpretation?

Ironically , this interpretation is a small stretch, although it does have some significant aid as well as fitting the practice. First, provided that the other constitutional provisions between the state legislature are properly translated as using the expression to mean the legislature appropriate or the legislature with regulation, depending on the context, this interpretation gains support as with a significance that is represented in these other constitutional provisions. It’s a conventional canon of textual interpretation to read constitutional provisions to accord with other provisions in the Constitution. Second, since this interpretation fits the practice, this reading appears to be how state legislatures historically must have translated the supply.

In the end, the question of how to interpret the different constitutional provisions between state legislatures is that a struggle both for our constitutional comprehension and for originalism. If it were not possible to reconcile these various provisions in a constant manner, as appears to be assumed by some nonoriginalists, then we’d have a much poorer comprehension of our own Constitution. Plus it might give nonoriginalists greater liberty to choose how to translate sentences, allowing them to achieve results that they prefer on political motives. However, if I am correct, the original significance makes sense, can be comprehended, and puts strict limits on just how the Constitution applies to state legislatures in certain very important instances.