Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Because federal and state constitutions require members of the legislative branch of the government to meet certain qualifications, the legal existence of a legislative body is dependent upon compliance with those constitutional requirements.' However, by express constitutional provisions, and by traditional legislative practice and usage, the legislature itself is deemed to be the final judge of the election and qualifications of its members. Section 5 of article I of the United States Constitution provides: "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members ...." The constitutions of all the states contain provisions to this same effect. In keeping with the fundamental principle prohibiting judicial encroachment up-on the functions of the legislature, judicial usurpation of legislative powers, and judicial interference with the exercise of legislative power, it is well settled that such a constitutional provision vests in the legislature the sole and exclusive power to judge the election and qualifications of its own members and deprives the courts of jurisdiction to determine these matters.