Eligibility for Other Federal Offices Debated

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Eligibility for Other Federal Offices Debated

"No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time;..."

- U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 6

Madison (VA), seconded by Alexander Martin (NC), moved to make members of the House ineligible for other federal office during their term and for one year after.

Butler (SC) said the motion didn't go far enough. Mason (VA) agreed, and appealed to Madison as a witness to the shameful partiality of the Legislature of Virginia for its own members. Rutledge (SC) supported the motion as did Wilson (PA). Madison defended his motion as a middle ground between encouraging corruption and excluding the most qualified appointees.

Jennifer (MD) remarked that the Maryland Senate was excluded from holding other offices for their five-year term and that this had gained them the confidence of the people. Madison's motion lost, Connecticut and New Jersey aye, Massachusetts divided, 8 no.

Spaight (NC) moved to divide the issue into two parts, which was done. Ineligibility during the term for which they were elected passed 8 aye, Pennsylvania and Georgia no and Massachusetts divided. Extending eligibility for a year after the term was urged by Mason, Gerry and Rutledge, and deprecated by Hamilton as easily evaded. It lost, New York, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina aye, Pennsylvania divided, 6 no.

The debate on eligibility for members of the House to hold other federal offices took most of the day. This is not the most controversial part of the Constitution; however, delegates were familiar with the English practice of buying off key legislators by appointing them to high-paying government jobs. The delegates regarded time spent in safeguarding against corruption as time well spent.

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