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Constitutional Revision Study Documents of the Constitutional Convention Commission, 1968
Volume 138, Page 107   View pdf image (33K)
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Legislative Branch

THE STRUCTURE OF THE MARYLAND LEGISLATURE1
UNICAMERALISM VS. BICAMERALISM

THE PURPOSE OF THE LEGISLATURE

"Which will function better?" is the
primary question men must answer in
choosing between designs for a legisla-
tive body. Alternative structures must
be evaluated in terms of their relative
contribution to achieving the basic pur-
pose for which a legislature is created
to represent the electorate and to enact
legislation carrying out majority wishes.
Clear recognition of such legislative pur-
pose helps resolve many problems in-
volved in choosing between a bicameral
and unicameral legislative structure.
Protecting minority interests or, in
broader terms, distributing power among
the components of society is a primaiy
function not of the legislature, but
rather of the constitution and the whole
constitutional system. Internal restraints
or impediments to legislative action
1
This article was prepared for the Commis-
sion by John H. Michener, Commission re-
porter for the Committee on the Legislative
Department; Chief, Appraisal Staff, Bureau of
Health Insurance, Social Security Administra-
tion; B.A., 1948, University of Kensas; Ph.D.,
1956, University of California (Berkeley) ;
LL.B., 1962, University of Maryland; member
of the Maryland Bar.

may serve to protect minority interests,
but they are not necessary if other safe-
guards in the constitutional system are
adequate.
Failure of legislatures to fulfill their
basic purpose adequately has been a
fundamental cause of the most prev-
alent tendency in modern constitu-
tional government erosion of the effec-
tiveness of state legislative assemblies.2
A brief review of arguments for and
against bicameralism may help delegates
arrive at a defensible decision to retain
or reject a two-house legislature.
ORIGIN OF BICAMERALISM

Bicameralism is not the outcome of
deliberate choice, but is rather an acci-
dent of English history and the influence
of the English example on other na-
tions.3 The system is rooted in the
stratified social order of the later Middle
Ages.4 Various social classes then exist-
2
Shepard, Legislative Assemblies, 9 ency-
clopedia of social sciences 361 (1933).
3 C. shull, american experience with
unicameral legislatures 1 (1937).
4 Shepard, Bicameral System, 2 encyclo-
pedia of social sciences 533 (1933).
107


 
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Constitutional Revision Study Documents of the Constitutional Convention Commission, 1968
Volume 138, Page 107   View pdf image (33K)
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  << PREVIOUS  NEXT >>


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