It wasn’t always that way. What did they do when people refused to play by the rules. One of the rules of committee work involves a quorum, a minimum number of people to do business. It was established to keep a small minority from having a quick meeting and passing laws that could never make it in honest debate. It could also be used if you were losing the debate and did not want a vote to take place. Here is what happened when Pennsylvania was deciding to ratify or not.
“When its opponents, failing in every other device to delay or defeat it, refused to attend the sessions, thus breaking a quorum, a band of Constitutionalists ‘broke into their lodgings, seized them, dragged them though the streets to the State House and thrust them into the Assembly room with clothes torn and faces white with rage.’ And there the objecting members were forcibly kept until the vote was taken. Thus was the quorum made and the majority of the Legislature enabled to ‘pass’ the ordinance for calling the Pennsylvania State Convention to ratify the National Constitution. And this action was taken before the Legislature had even received from Congress a copy of that document.” (Kindle Highlight Location 6780-6785)Get the picture. A parliamentary technique was used to keep a vote from happening. The minority simply stayed away so that there was no quorum, thus no vote. The majority physically dragged them into the hall, claimed a quorum, and took the vote. Aggressive, yes. Not polite, yes. Effective, yes.
It would be refreshing is our political leaders had the nerve to do something like this today. Don’t hold your breath.
And notice how similar it is to what did happen with Obamacare. They voted on the document before they had read it.
Beveridge, Albert J. The Life of John Marshall, Vol. 1. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1916.
homo unius libri