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No. 108 "Statement By National Lawyers Committee Of The American Liberty League: Prepared pursuant to authorization given in conference in Washington, January 25, 1936, and made public by direction of the Administrative Committee of the League," March 4, 1936.
No. 108 "Statement By National Lawyers Committee Of The American Liberty League: Prepared pursuant to authorization given in conference in Washington, January 25, 1936, and made public by direction of the Administrative Committee of the League," March 4, 1936. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_108 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 108 "Statement By National Lawyers Committee Of The American Liberty League: Prepared pursuant to authorization given in conference in Washington, January 25, 1936, and made public by direction of the Administrative Committee of the League," March 4, 1936. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1936. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. AN INVITATION TO JOIN THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE We extend to every American citizen who believes in the fundamental principles which gave birth to the Constitution of the United States an invitation to become a member of the American Liberty League. You may indicate your acceptance of this invitation by filling in the necessary information as to your name and address on the enrollment blank below and mailing it to American Liberty League, National Press Building, Washington, D. C. There are no fees or dues. If you are willing and able to give monetary help for the League's support your contribution will be appreciated, as our activities are supported entirely by the voluntary gifts of our members. ENROLLMENT BLANK Date_ I favor the principles and purposes of the American Liberty League and request that I be enrolled as a I regular \ member. ^â™¦contributing./ Signature_ I County â™¦As a contributing member I desire to give S_ to help support the activities of the League: Cash herewith_Installments as follows: _ STATEMENT BY NATIONAL LAWYERS COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE â˜… â˜… â˜… Prepared pursuant to authorisation given in conference in Washington, January 25,1936, and made public by direction of the Administrative Committee of the League AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE Rational Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. (1081 Document No. 108 March, 1936 Statement by National Lawyers Committee you have finished with this pamphlet please pass it on to some friend or acquaintance who might be interested, calling his attention to the membership blan\ on page 12. WHEN THE COMMITTEE was first invited to act, the country was faced with what appeared to be a growing disposition on the part of a majority in Congress to overlook the Constitution in committing the Federal Government to departures from its limitations from which retreat would be difficult or impracticable. The Committee's considered reports on the basic legislation of the 73rd Congress confirmed the accuracy of this impression. When this assurance was made certain and final by repeated decisions of the Supreme Court, there developed an outspoken intent to weaken the protective restraints of the Constitution both by systematic efforts to impair the prestige and jurisdiction of the Court and by proposed amendments which would in fact permanently remove effective restraints from the Constitution itself. Prior to the organization of the American Liberty League there was no agency both national in scope and nonpartisan in fact which had undertaken, from the standpoint of the Constitution alone, to point out the danger in this movement. The work of the National Lawyers Committee may at least serve to bring the matter to the active attention of the American Bar and of the public generally, in our joint capacity as an agency acting without political or economic motives, holding no public office and having no interest in the matter except every citizen's interest in Constitutional liberty and national welfare. THE ACTIVITIES of the Committee as such have been, and will continue to be, confined to the single object of maintaining our constitutional form of government and thereby protecting the fundamental rights of all of our citizens. This object is distinguished from, and should not be confused with, the other grave national issues arising out of the New Deal. It should command the support of all citizens regardless of political affiliations. The Supreme Court of the United States asserted in 1882: "The citizen here," as contrasted with subjects in other lands, including the British Empire, "knows no person, however near to those in power ... to whom he need yield the rights which the law secures to him. . . . When he, in one of the courts of competent jurisdiction, has established his right to property, there is no reason why deference to any person, natural or artificial, not even the United States, should prevent him from using the means which the law gives him, for the protection and enforcement of that right." (United States v. Lee, 106 U. S. 196, 208.) THE MEMBERS of the Committee were invited some months ago to serve upon the Committee in aid of the principal object of the League: the support of the American Constitution. Our party affiliations were not asked. Our economic views were not invited. Our opinions were desired solely upon the question whether the basic legislation submitted was in violation of the Constitution, in order that if violations were reported to be obvious, the public might be warned. Opinions were requested from us as lawyers who have for many years in our daily work dealt with the history and application of the Federal Constitution. There was no significance in our selection, in the sense that there are many members of the Bar in every State who would have been requested to serve but for the necessary limitations of a working Committee, and our opinions were requested as from a representative cross-section of the American Bar. There is always danger from delay in public understanding of existing and threatened departures from the Constitution. Not only citizens but States may lose rights by acquiescence. We therefore considered it a public duty to accept membership on the Committee and consider and make a report on the legality of the measures submitted to us. No phase of these reports has been based upon or has dealt with the wisdom or economic soundness of the measures. So much for the reports and the reason for their publication. THE DEVELOPMENTS which have followed the decisions of the Supreme Court pointing out the conflict between the principal New Deal laws and the Constitution make it clear that there is an affirmative duty in the matter resting upon all lawyers. We believe that all lawyers know the correctness of these statements: 1. A Constitution that is interpreted solely by the legislative or executive agencies asserting the power of arbitrary action is no Constitution. 2. A Constitution that is interpreted finally by Congress and by the legislatures of forty-eight States in a scramble for power is no Constitution. A citizen of the United States would have one Federal Constitution in Louisiana and another in New York, in Georgia, in California. Industry, savings, and human rights would alike become tramps seeking the areas where State courts yet respected the Fifth Amendment and the Bill of Rights and would be in full flight before a Congress which has shaken off the mandate of the Constitution. 3. There can be no salient difference of opinion on this grave question between traditional Democrats, traditional Republicans or Independents who alike believe in the principles of individual liberty as expressed in the Bill of Rights, in the right of minorities to fair treatment, in the right of citizens in the details of their domestic concerns to be free from management by arbitrary boards established by the federal government, in the basic necessity that in America there shall be at all times binding upon all legislative majorities, Democratic, Republican, Socialist or Communist, and upon all executive and administrative authority, a written Constitution interpreted finally by a single judicial tribunal without power itself to make laws or to govern; reserving freedom of amendment to the people of the States in all cases where the final interpretation of the Court might depart from settled convictions of the public welfare. No AMERICAN COURT anywhere at any time has attempted to usurp a power to govern. The Courts alone of the great departments of our system must act upon the initiative set in motion by the Executive or Legislative branches. The Federal judiciary is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. "While by the Constitution the judicial department is recognized as one of the three great branches among which all the powers and functions of the Government are distributed, it is inherently the weakest of them all. "Dependent as its courts are for the enforcement of their judgments, upon officers appointed by the Executive and removable at his pleasure, with no patronage and no control by purse or sword, their power and influence rest solely upon the public sense of the necessity for the existence of a tribunal to which all may appeal for the assertion and protection of rights guaranteed by the Constitution and by the laws of the land, and on the confidence reposed in the soundness of their decisions and the purity of their motives. "From such a tribunal no well founded fear can be entertained of injustice to the Government, or purpose to obstruct or diminish its just authority." (E7. S. v. Lee, 106 VS. at p. 223.) It is well to bear in mind that neither Congress nor the Administration nor any official nor any candidate constitute the people of the United States or has any power not held subject to the Constitution. THREE QUARTERS of a century has passed since the Court decided in the License Tax Cases (1866) that the Federal Congress had no power under the Constitution to authorize the conduct of a local business prohibited by the States, in order to raise revenue by license taxes. In December when the obvious corollary of this former decision was announced, that the Federal Government could not add its penalty to the penalty deemed adequate by the State prohibiting the conduct of business within the State, there was muttering, since the decision on AAA was inevitably foreshadowed. The Court had announced in 1876 in Mac-Cready v. Virginia that "commerce has nothing to do with land while producing." The conclusion was obvious and provoked no complaint; yet when in the AAA Case the Court but restated and applied obvious conclusions based on traditional and accepted decisions, there were bitter expressions from the present control of the Federal Government. WHEN A MEMBER of an American Cabinet asserts publicly and without rebuke from the Executive that a unanimous order by the Supreme Court has resulted in the greatest "legalized steal in history," those who are more interested in a Constitution judicially interpreted than in any political control, have a duty to perform. It is plain that those whose re-election to Federal office or those whose asserted power over the Treasury and the liberties of citizens is thought by themselves to be dependent upon their support of measures which violate the Constitution or upon curtailment of judicial review, cannot be depended upon to inform or steady the judgment of the people as to the facts and as to the necessity for an interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court. It is a fair statement that many individuals now participating in legislative and executive control of the American Government are either unaware of the tragedy which would result from judicial impairment or for political reasons hesitate to oppose assaults upon the Constitution and the Courts. We warn against any division of the American people on this issue. It is incredible that any Americans should be maneuvered into an attitude of approving or acquiescing in public attacks upon the Constitution proposed directly through enervating amendment or through legislative encroachment upon the functions of the Court. No DECISION has ever been rendered or ever can be rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States, right or wrong, which can permanently block any public objective desired by a majority of the people of three-fourths of the States. Futility and confusion would accompany measures intended to deny efficacy to majority opinions, since requirement of wider majorities or unanimous opinions would leave questions decided or undecided and the Constitution effective or ineffective, according to the manner in which the question might be presented. Article VI, Section 2, of the Constitution is a mandatory requirement that the Constitution shall be the Supreme law of the land, binding upon the Congress and the Federal judiciary and that the "Judges in every state shall be bound thereby." If jurisdiction is denied by Congress to Federal courts or for final review by the Supreme Court, citizens still have recourse to their state courts to redress violation of the Constitution by arbitrary functionaries acting under color of an edict of Congress or by Executive authority asserting, however unctuously, an arbitrary discretion. "No man in this country is so high that he is above the law. No officer of the law may set that law at defiance, with impunity. All the officers of the Government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it. "It is the only supreme power in our system of government, and every man who, by accepting office, participates in its functions, is only the more strongly bound to submit to that supremacy, and to observe the limitations which it imposes upon the exercise of the authority which it gives. "Courts of justice are established not only to decide upon the controverted rights of the citizens as against each other, but also upon rights in controversy between them and the Government." (U. S. v. Lee, 106 VS. at p. 220.) the INESCAPABLE question is whether the Constitution shall by final recourse to the Supreme Court be capable of final and uniform interpretation, right or wrong but known and understood, or whether the Constitution shall be left to the uncertainty of forty-eight State tribunals and to scrambling conflicts between the States and the Federal Government; conflicts precipitated by the absolutist theories which dominated the 73rd Congress and have not been abandoned by the 74th. The members of this Committee believe that without a Supreme Court for the final interpretation of the Constitution, there is no Constitution; that Tightness or wrongness of the decision is less important than its certainty; that there is a rational and orderly remedy for erroneous interpretation but that there is no remedy for the disorder and uncertainties which would accompany the curtailment of final review by the Supreme Court of the United States. What protection for persons or property would exist from angry majorities without judicial review? Time and again the Supreme Court has been called upon to protect constitutional rights, human rights and property rights, against Congressional usurpation of powers, as when Congress attempted: to authorize illegal searches and seizures of private papers; to authorize criminal prosecution after compelling the witness to testify; to authorize retrial in a Federal Court of facts already tried in a State Court; to authorize imprisonment without indictment by a grand jury; to deprive accused of the right to be confronted with witnesses against him; to make a crime out of an act which was not a crime when committed; and to take private property for public use without compensation. As MEMBERS of our profession, we join in asserting that any Administration, any candidate for office, any Plan, any so-called Authority, which seeks to defeat the application to all measures, State or Federal, of the test of the written Constitution as interpreted by the Su- preme Court, or to destroy finality of interpretation by the Supreme Court, unless and until amended, is a public menace. We respectfully invite all members of the American Bar to give to the people of their respective states and communities and to their representatives in Congress the benefit of their collective and individual reflection upon these questions, which are vital and should be nonpartisan in their universal acceptance. If the American Bar fails now to give to the country the informed guidance which it is competent to provide in this emergency, it will for the first time in American history have failed to sustain the principles of constitutional liberty against arbitrary power. For such aid as it may serve in this crisis we are preparing and will publish a report as to the destructive effect of Acts of Congress or proposed amendments of the Constitution which would impose the will of Congress upon the method of judicial decision or impair the structure and theory of the American Constitutional system. PAMPHLETS AVAILABLE COPIES of the following pamphlets and other League literature may be obtained upon application to the League's national headquarters. Statement of Principles and Purposes American Liberty League Its Platform The $4,880,000,000 Emergency Relief Appropriation Act The Bonus Inflation The Thirty Hour Week Bill The Holding Company Bill Price Control The Labor Relations Bill The TVA Amendments The Revised AAA Amendments The President's Tax Program Expanding Bureaucracy Lawmaking by Executive Order New Deal Laws in Federal Courts Potato Control Budget Prospects Dangerous Experimentation Economic Planning Mistaken But Not New Work Relief The AAA and Our Form of Government Alternatives to the American Form of Government A Program for Congress The 1937 Budget Professors and the New Deal Wealth and Income The Townsend Plan The Story of an Honest Man The President Wants More Power (leaflet) The Townsend Nightmare (leaflet) The New Deal Works Program (leaflet) The American Liberty League By Dr. Ray Bert Westerfield (leaflet) The National Labor Relations Act Summary of Conclusions from Report of the National Lawyers Committee Straws Which Tell The Constitution What It Means to the Man in the Street^-By John W. Davis What the Constitution Means to the Citizen By G. W. Maxey The Duty of the Church to the Social Order Speech by S. Wells Utley The American Bar The Trustee of American Institutions Speech by Albert C. Ritchie PAMPHLETS AVAILABLE (continued) Legislation By Coercion or Constitution Speech by Jouett Shouse The Imperilment of Democracy Speech by Fitzgerald Hall The Spirit of Americanism Speech by W&~ Uam H. Ellis Today's Lessons for Tomorrow Speech by Captain William H. Stayton The Duty of the Lawyer in the Present Crisis Speech by James M. Beck The Constitution and the Supreme Court Speech by Borden Burr The Economic Necessity in the Southern States for a Return to the Constitution Speech by Forney Johnston The National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League Speech by Ethan A. H. Shepley Our Growing National Debt and Inflation Speech by Dr. E. W. Kemmerer Inflation is Bad Business Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers The Real Significance of the Constitutional Issue Speech by R. E. Desvemine Arousing Class Prejudices Speech by Jouett Shoitse The Fallacies and Dangers of the Townsend Plan Speech by Dr. Walter E. Spahr What of 1936? Speech by James P. Warburg Americanism at the Crossroads Speech by R. E. Desvemine The Constitution and the New Deal Speech by James M. Carson The American Constitution Whose Heritage? Speech by Frederick H. Stinchfield The American Form of Government Let Us Preserve It Speech by Albert C. Ritchie The Redistribution of Power Speech by John W. Davis Time to Stop Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers The President Has Made the Issue Speech by Charles I. Dawson The Facts In the Case Speech by Alfred E. Smith The Townsend Utopia Speech by Dr. Ray Shall We Plow Under the Supreme Court? Speech by Jouett Shouse Inflation and Our Gold Reserve Speech by Dr. E. W. Kemmerer The Power of Federal Courts to Declare Acts of Congress Unconstitutional Speech by John H. Hatcher The Constitution The Fortress of Liberty Speech by James A. Reed