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the trial be fair. What the regular course of procedure in a State court shall be is a matter for the State itself to determine; but after the State has once decided upon the course that justice shall take, after it has once established the processes of law, it cannot deprive any person of the benefits that arise from those processes.
II. Equal Protection of the Laws. “Every person within the jurisdiction of any State, whether he be rich or poor, humble or haughty, citizen or alien, is assured of the protection of equal laws (152)-applicable to all alike and impartially administered without favor or discrimination.” (Guthrie.)
III. Protection on the High Seas and in Foreign Countries. A citizen of the United States, in whatever part of the world he may be, is entitled to protection against injustice or injury, and this protection is a right of federal citizenship, and is extended by the federal government.
IV. State Citizenship. Every citizen of the United States has a right to become a citizen of a State by a bona fide residence therein, and as a citizen of the State he has all that large body of rights which always belongs to State citizenship.
We now come to the subject of political rights as distinguished from civil rights.
Political rights invest the citizen with the privilege of participating in government, and consist of the right of voting at elections and of holding public of fice. These rights are an outgrowth of the struggle for civil rights.
Authority for granting the suffrage and defining the qualifications of voters resides chiefly in the State. The only restriction upon the power of the State to regulate the elective franchise is found in the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, where it is declared that the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be abridged by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude (159). As long as the State does not violate this amendment it is free to regulate the suffrage in its own way.
When we observe how widely the political conditions in one State differ from those in another, and consider how great is the opportunity for a variety of regulations in reference to voting, the laws governing the suffrage throughout the Union seem to be remarkably uniform. This uniformity is due in part to democratic spirit of equality, and in part to the provisions of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments.
In all the States the age qualification for voting is twenty-one years; in all the States a previous residence within the State varying from six months to two years is required; in thirty-eight States a voter must be a citizen of the United States; in ten States aliens may vote; in all the States but nine there is an absence of anything like an educational qualification. In all the States certain classes of persons are excluded from the privilege of voting. Chief among these are lunatics, idiots, paupers and convict criminals.
The right of holding office is more indefinite than
the right of suffrage. It may be stated as a general rule that any one who may vote is qualified to hold office. Qualifications for the occupants of most offices are prescribed by law, and these of course must be met. When there are no special legal qualifications attached to an office it may usually be held by any one who can get himself elected or appointed to it. A person who, as a State official, has taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and who has afterwards joined in rebellion against the United States is debarred from holding office (155).
The American voter should regard himself as an officer of government. He is one of the members of the electorate, that vast governing body which consists of all the voters, and which possesses supreme political power, controlling all the governments, federal and State and local. This electorate has in its keeping the welfare and the happiness of the American people. When, therefore, the voter takes his place in this governing body, that is, when he enters the polling-booth and presumes to participate in the business of government, he assumes serious responsibilities. In the polling-booth he is a public officer charged with certain duties, and if he fails to discharge these duties properly he may work great injury. What are the duties of a voter in a self-governing country? If an intelligent man will ask himself this question and refer it to his conscience, as well as deliberate upon it in his mind, he will conclude that he ought at least to do the following things:
(1) To vote whenever it is his privilege.
(2) To try to understand the questions upon which he votes.
(3) To learn something about the character and fitness of the men for whom he votes.
(4) To vote only for honest men for office. (5) To support only honest measures.
(6) To give no bribe direct or indirect, and to receive no bribe direct or indirect.
(7) To place country above party.
(8) To recognize the result of the election as the will of the people and therefore as the law.
(9) To continue to vote for a righteous although defeated cause as long as there is a reasonable hope of victory.
The most important department of the United States government when considered as a representative democracy is Congress, with its two houses—the Senate and the House of Representatives—chosen directly by the people and answerable to them alone for its acts. Each State is represented in the Senate by two senators, making 96 in all. A candidate for senator must be at least 30 years old, have been nine years a resident of the United States and must be a resident of the State he represents. The senators for each State are elected by all the voters of the State. The members of the House of Representatives are elected one from each of the congressional districts into which a State is divided for purposes of representation. The basis for representation is one member for each 211,877 of the population, making 435 members of the House of Representatives. A candidate for representative must be at least 25 years old, must have been for seven years a resident of the United States, and must be a resident of the State in which he is elected.
Every year on the first Monday in December (25) Congress assembles in the Capitol at Washington, the Senate occupying the north wing of the building and