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Powell v. McCormack 395 US 486
FACTS: During the 89th Congress, it was found that Plaintiff had engaged in deceptive and possibly illegal actions surrounding his service as chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. After his reelection to the 90th Congress, he was asked to step aside while the other representatives were sworn in. Also, he was later asked to inform the Governor of New York that his seat was vacant. Plaintiff sued, alleging the House did not have the constitutional authority to deny his seat when he met the qualifications expressly set forth for Representatives in Article I of the United States Constitution (Constitution).
ISSUE: Does the House have a textual commitment in the constitution to determine the qualifications of its members.
DECISION: Yes. Case reversed and remanded.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The Defendants-Respondents, members of Congress including the Speaker of the House John W. McCormack (Defendants), argued that the House has broad powers under Article I, Section: 5 of the Constitution to determine the qualifications of its membership. Plaintiff argued and the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) agreed, the ratification debates and historical context of the framers limit the qualifications to those set forth in the Constitution. The Supreme Court also notes that to hold otherwise would nullify the framers’ decision to require two-thirds vote for expulsion.
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