This paper seeks to discuss the similarities and differences in the plans put forth by Randolph and Patterson in Virginia and New Jersey states respectively. It also seeks to establish the plan which seems to give more powers to the new federal government. The two propositions describe the composition and the powers vested in the branches of the national government.
In both the two plans it is proposed that the National government should have three branches, the National Legislature, the Federal Executive and the Judiciary. The National Legislature should be made up of two branches, that is the first and the second branches. Randolph goes ahead to give the specifics about the two branches, whereas Patterson does not.
In Randolph’s proposition, the members of the first branch of the legislature should be elected by the people of the various states and once elected; they serve for a period of three years. During this period, these members are ineligible to any other office in any state and also for a period of one year after expiry of their term. Members of the second branch are chosen by individual legislatures. The members of the second branch should be at least thirty years of age and they can hold the office for seven years without re-election. They also should be ineligible to hold any other office in any state during their term and also for one year after their term. Patterson also puts forth that the Congress be made up of members who are elected by the public.
Both the two agree that the National Legislature should enjoy the legislative rights vested in the congress by the confederation. It should also legislate in all cases to which the states are incompetent. They may also negative the laws passed by the states which contravene the national legislature. However, Patterson includes that none of the powers vested in the Congress shall be exercised without the consent of some states. He also adds that the national legislature should be endowed with the authority to pass acts that increase the revenue collection by imposing levies on all goods that are imported into any part of the United States. According to him the legislature should also be allowed to pass acts for regulation of trade and commerce and be able to impose fines, punishments and penalties to those going against those acts.
According to Randolph, the National Executive should contain a single person who should be chosen by the National Legislature. This person should serve for a period of seven years. He or she can be impeached due to malpractices, incompetence and neglect of duty. He cannot be chosen again once the seven years are over. He should exercise the powers of execution of the national laws and appointing, where there are no provisions in the law. He shall have a right to negative any act of the legislature, which can be approved or disapproved by two thirds of the two branches of the National Legislature. Patterson, on the other hand does not give the composition of the Executive. Neither does he give the duration or the term of this/ these person(s) in office. He also agrees that the persons this office is not legible for a second term. In his proposal, he also allows for the impeachment of the holder of this office by a majority of the congress. He also affirms that, apart from execution of the federal acts, the bearer of this office should have powers to appoint all federal officers not captured in the law. In addition to this, he should direct all military operations.
The two concur that there should be a Judiciary, which according to Randolph, should be composed of a Supreme tribunal made up of judges who are appointed by the second branch of the National Legislature. The mandate of the Judiciary should be to handle all cases, ranging from cases involving the National revenue, impeachment of national officers and even issues relating to peace and harmony. He is also of the opinion that the National Legislature be given the authority to appoint and constitute other inferior tribunals. However, Patterson, views that the judges of the supreme tribunal be appointed by the executive. He is a bit specific on the mandate of the judiciary. According to him, it should be able to preside over, in addition to those mentioned by Randolph, determination on first instance, the impeachment cases, and by the way of appeal ,all cases involving rights of ambassadors, piracies and felony on the high seas, making of treaties, regulation of trade, collection of federal revenue among others. He concludes by mentioning that the judges should not hold any other office during their tenure in office and sometime thereafter.
In conclusion, Patterson’s proposition gives more powers to the federal government because it gives the legislature an opportunity to enact acts involving international relations, that is; trade, and embassy. It also creates an opportunity for the states to give consent to some of the acts put forward by the legislature and also to check on the legislature as it exercises its powers. He also gives the Judiciary an opportunity to preside over cases of international magnitude that are touching the U.S., for example, regulation of trade, piracies and international treaties.