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Staggered Terms for the US Senate: Origins and Irony.

  • Academic Journal
  • Wirls, Daniel1 wirls@ucsc.edu
  • Legislative Studies Quarterly. Aug2015, Vol. 40 Issue 3, p471-497. 27p.
  • This article provides the first detailed study of the origins of staggered Senate terms, which typically have been interpreted as part of the framers' intent to create an insulated, stable, and conservative Senate. I draw upon three sources of evidence-the meaning and application of 'rotation' in revolutionary America, the deliberations and decisions at the Constitutional Convention, and the arguments during Ratification-to show that the origins of and intentions behind staggered terms offer little support for the dominant interpretation. Instead, staggered terms, a mechanism to promote 'rotation' or turnover of membership, were added to the Constitution as a compromise to offset, not augment, the Senate's longer terms by exposing a legislative chamber with long individual tenure to more frequent electoral influence and change. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Additional Information
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