The 20th Amendment to the Constitution corrected a flaw in our governance which, because travel to the seat of government (New York, Philadelphia and finally Washington, DC) was such an issue in the early days, the original text of the Constitution read (Article I, Section 4, Clause 2):
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
So, it was more than a year before newly elected congressmen met in December – of the next year – following the November elections.
Think about the mischief an outgoing majority could inflict on the nation during a 13-month lame duck session. The 20th Amendment sets the date of the Presidential term to begin on January 20th (it had been March 4th) and requires that:
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
In 2011, January 3 falls on Monday. It is likely the Congress will pass a law this year establishing Wednesday January 5 (or Thursday the 6th) as the opening date.
The Mullings Director of Standards and Practices and I went to a lovely wedding on Saturday night but I got to thinking that if, 20 minutes into the ceremony, the Priest had announced a Foosball tournament was about to start in the Sunday School cafeteria the only males left in the church would have been the groom, the best man, and about a third of the ushers.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to all the stories above, plus a terrific Mullfoto sent in by a reader and a pretty interesting Catchy Caption of the Day.