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
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).