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Prorogation in politics is the action of proroguing, or ending, an assembly, especially a parliament, or the discontinuance of meetings for a given period of time, without a dissolution of parliament. The term is also used for the period of such a discontinuance between two legislative sessions of a legislative body.

Ancient Rome[edit]

In the constitution of ancient Rome, prorogatio was the extension of a commander's imperium beyond the one-year term of his magistracy, usually that of consul or praetor. Prorogatio developed as a legal procedure in response to Roman expansionism and militarization.[1]


In Australia, prorogation is the end of a session in the Australian Parliament pursuant to section 5 of the Constitution of Australia.


Prorogation is the end of a session in the Parliament of Canada.

New Zealand[edit]

Prorogation is the end of a session in the New Zealand Parliament pursuant to the Constitution Act 1986.

Northern Ireland[edit]

Prorogation in Northern Ireland is the end of a session in the Parliament of Northern Ireland (1921–1972).

United Kingdom[edit]

Prorogation is the formal ending of a Parliamentary session in the UK Parliament.[2][3]

United States[edit]

Under Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution the President of the United States technically has the authority to prorogue the United States Congress "to such Time as he shall think proper" when it is unable to agree on a time of adjournment. However, this is a procedural ability that has so far never been used. The members of the Constitutional Convention agreed to limit executive authority in order to prevent autocracy.[4] In Federalist No. 69, Alexander Hamilton differentiated the President's authority to prorogue Congress from the King of Great Britain's ability to dissolve Parliament.

On April 15, 2020, while Congress was in recess due to the COVID-19 pandemic but still holding pro forma sessions, President Donald Trump threatened to use the presidential prerogative powers to adjourn both the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to make recess appointments for positions such as Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, citing what he argued was obstructionism and extreme partisanship from the Democratic Party.[5] However, constitutional law experts and politicians have argued that President Trump does not have the constitutional authority to do so under the current conditions, since both houses currently agree on a date of adjournment, and President Trump's argument that the President can force Congress to adjourn was widely condemned by both Republicans and Democrats.[6][7][8][9][10][11] In order to prorogue Congress, the Senate would have to set a different date of adjournment than the House of Representatives. Although President Trump called on the Senate to set a new adjournment date, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he will not alter the planned adjournment date of January 3, 2021, and any motion to alter the date would require the approval of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic members of the Senate through the Senate Standing Rules.[6][8][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andrew Lintott, The Constitution of the Roman Republic (Oxford University Press, 1999.), p. 113 ff. online.
  2. ^ "Prorogation". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  3. ^ Mohdin, Aamaa; Wolfe-Robinson, Maya; Kalukembi, Marvel (28 August 2019). "'Stop the coup': Protests across UK over Johnson's suspension of parliament". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Gould, Eliga. "The American Founders made sure the president could never suspend Congress". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  5. ^ "Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing". Retrieved 2020-04-22 – via National Archives.
  6. ^ a b Zilbermints, Regina (2020-04-15). "Trump threatens to adjourn both chambers of Congress". TheHill. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  7. ^ Parker, Mario; Sink, Justin (2020-04-15). "Trump Claims Untested Power to Adjourn Congress in Nominee Fight". Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  8. ^ a b Itkowitz, Colby; DeBonis, Mike (April 16, 2020). "Trump threatens to adjourn Congress to get his nominees but likely would be impeded by Senate rules". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-04-16.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Knott, Matthew (2020-04-15). "'Banana republic': Trump threatens to unilaterally suspend Congress". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Neal K. Katyal, Thomas P. (2020-04-17). "Trump Is Threatening to Subvert the Constitution". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  11. ^ "The President's Empty Threat on Recess Appointments". National Review. 2020-04-18. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  12. ^ "McConnell Dismisses Trump's Call to Adjourn Congress to Make Federal Appointments". National Review. 2020-04-16. Retrieved 2020-04-19.