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No. 114 "The New Inquisition" Speech of Jouett Shouse broadcast over the Columbia Broadcasting System network on March 27, 1936. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_114 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 114 "The New Inquisition" Speech of Jouett Shouse broadcast over the Columbia Broadcasting System network on March 27, 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. JOIN THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE â˜… â˜… â˜… The American Liberty League is organized to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States and to gather and disseminate information that (1) will teach the necessity of respect for the rights of persons and property as fundamental to every successful form of government and (2) will teach the duty of government to encourage and protect individual and group initiative and enterprise, to foster the right to work, earn, save, and acquire property, and to preserve the ownership and lawful use of property when acquired. THE NEW INQUISITION â˜… â˜… â˜… The Leagne believes in the doctrine expressed by George Washington in his Farewell Address that while the people may amend the Constitution to meet conditions arising in a changing world, there must "be no change by usurpation; for this * * * is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.** Speech of JOUETT SHOUSE President of the American Liberty League over the network of the Columbia Broadcasting System March 27, 1936 Since the League is wholly dependent upon the contributions of its members for financial support it hopes that you will become a contributing member. However, if you cannot contribute it will welcome your support as a non-contributing member. Enrollment Blank I desire to be enrolled as a member of the American Liberty League. Signatrr V? Print s AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. to help support the activities of the League. â˜… â˜… (114) I document No. 114 The New Inquisition /hen 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 blank on page 16. OPEAKING on the radio on March 6th three weeks ago tonight I told of the organization of the Committee of the United States Senate with Senator Black as Chairman to investigate lobbying activities. At that time I told how your telegrams if you sent any to Washington or received any from Washington last year were pawed over by Committee investigators acting with the unwarranted connivance of the Federal Communications Commission and without any consideration for the confidential or private nature of many of the messages. I stated the facts as to this illegal procedure a statement I now desire to repeat and emphasize as foUows: "Last FALL agents of the Black Committee went to the Washington offices of both the Western Union and the Postal Telegraph Companies and demanded the right to go through copies of all telegrams on file in those offices. Agents of the Companies were confused as to what to do. They were afraid to decline to grant the demand and yet they were conscious of the rights of their customers which made compliance impossible. Therefore, they stalled for time until they could confer with their superior officers and get instructions. Before a decision had been reached, agents of the Federal Communications Commission, accompanied by agents of the Black Committee, came to the Washington offices of the two telegraph companies and demanded under the authority of the Communications Commission access to all copies of messages in the said offices. "Because of the control of the Communications Commission over the affairs of the telegraph companies the representatives of the latter did not dare refuse and this summary demand was consequently complied with. For a space of weeks the agents of the Communica- tions Commission, in conjunction with agents of the Black Senatorial Committee, went through the files of the Washington telegraph offices and made copies of such messages as they desired. The telegraph companies do not know what messages were copied. The copies made were turned over to the Black Committee." FOLLOWING this statement of facts I showed that the Federal Communications Commission is an arm of the Executive Branch of the government answerable only to the President; that under the Act creating it authority is given to compel the production of papers, books, etc., but only to further a more efficient wire and radio communication service; that it has no power to proceed or investigate in regard to matters not directly related to the purposes for which it was formed; that it cannot be used as a searching agency by the Black Committee or any other Federal body merely because information has been forwarded over the wire systems, and that the action of the Communications Commission taken at the instance of the Black Committee was clearly illegal and wantonly violative of the protection afforded all citizens under the 4th Article of the Bill of Rights. Three DAYS after my radio speech namely, on March 9th Senator Borah of Idaho introduced and the Senate passed a resolution calling upon the Federal Communications Commission to report to the Senate just what part it had played in the seizure or copying of telegrams and by what authority it had acted. The requested report was submitted on March 17th. Instead of an accurate, straight-forward account of what had transpired and the part of the Communications Commission in the procedure, the report is filled with half-truths and evasions designed to give an erroneous impression. The Commission states that such telegrams as were examined by its agents were inspected to de- termine if any irregularities existed under the law. This statement can only be interpreted to mean that no telegrams were examined for any other purpose. That is a definite falsification of the fact. The Commission states that its agents copied only about 65 telegrams. It fails to say that it compelled the telegraph companies to copy many thousands and turn said copies over to its agents for use by the Black Committee. And then the Commission makes one of the few definite statements in its entire report in the following language: "The assertion that has been made that every telegram passing through Washington between the dates covered by the Senate Committee's subpoenas was read by the Commission's employees, is without foundation in fact." This sentence from the Commission's report is a striking example of the old Army game. It is the setting up of a straw man only to knock him down. Who made the "assertion" cited by the Commission that every telegram between the dates in question "was read by the Commission's employees"? I certainly did not. Nor have I heard of anyone else who did. I said in my radio speech of March 6th that all telegrams passing through Washington between specified dates were subject to inspection by the agents of the Commission and the Black Committee that these agents copied or had copied for them whatever they pleased, no matter how private the messages or how wholly unrelated to the matters under investigation. That assertion I now repeat and emphasize. But PERHAPS the crowning attempt at public deception may be found in this quotation from the Commission's report: "After the Commission's employees had completed their inspection, the telegrams were examined by the Senate Committee investigators pursuant to the Senate Committee's subpoenas. The Senate Committee investigators desired for the uBe of the Senate Com-mittee copies of certain telegrams, the originals of which were covered by their subpoenas. At the request of the Commission's employees copies of these telegrams covered by the Senate Committee's Bub-poenaB were made by the telegraph companies and the copies so made were turned over to the Senate Committee investigators by the Commission's employees." My listeners will observe that in the above quoted extract from its report, the Communications Commission constantly refers to the subpoenas of the Senate Committee as if those subpoenas had been responded to by the telegraph companies and telegrams produced thereunder. The fact is, as stated by me on March 6th and now repeated, that the subpoenas taken to the Washington telegraph offices by agents of the Black Committee were not honored by the managers of those offices; that before any decision had been reached by the telegraph companies as to whether they would relinquish under so-called subpoenas copies of messages in their files belonging to their customers, the agents of the Federal Communications Commission appeared with agents of the Black Committee and on the authority of the Communications Commission demanded access to the files of messages of the telegraph companies. Neither at the time the Communications Commission sent its agents to the telegraph companies, nor at the time copies of telegrams were made and turned over by the Communications Commission to the Black Committee, had the subpoenas presented by agents of the Black Committee to the telegraph companies been complied with. Not one telegram was produced under them. THEREFORE, the impression which the Communications Commission attempts to make that in producing copies of desired telegrams to the Black Committee it was only doing what the committee could have done through the use of their so-caUed subpoenas is wholly erroneous, without foundation in fact, and indeed constitutes a definite perversion of facts. I refer to 6 so-called subpoenas because they were dragnets which it was impossible for the telegraph companies to comply with even if they had not denied their legal effect. I am speaking tonight through the courtesy of the Columbia Broadcasting System. It is subject to regulations of the Communications Commission. Save for the fear that I might trespass upon the courtesy extended by the Columbia Broadcasting System, i should characterize in far more definite fashion this wilful], deliberate and considered action of the Communications Commission in response to a Senate resolution. The united states senate, by us unanimous adoption of the Borah resolution, showed its desire for the truth respecting the charges that there had been a wholesale search into and a wholesale seizure of telegrams. I believe that a majority of the Senate must still want to get the truth. Therefore I urge the Senate to appoint a special investigating committee, of impartial senators, of both parties, and that that committee call before it, and take the sworn testimony of, Dr. Irvin Stewart, a member of the Federal Communications Commission; Mr. Robert T. Bartley, Director of the Telegraph Division of that Commission; the Washington superintendents and attorneys of the two telegraph companies, and of the R.C.a. Communications Company and Mackay Radio & Telegraph Company. I assert that such an investigation will disclose these facts: First. That headed, in each instance, by an employee of the Federal Communications Commission, and acting under the power which the law gave that Commission, employees of the Black Committee for several months, beginning in the fall of 1935 and ending in January, 1936, continuously examined telegrams in the offices of the telegraph companies in Washington; that they demanded access, and were given access, to 7 all telegrams sent out of or received in Washington, without specifying the names of the senders or the receivers. Second. That the description of the telegrams which the Black Committee called for was so worded that it was utterly impossible to select those telegrams without having access to all telegrams. Third. That in one of the telegraph offices a Federal Communications Commission employee was assisted part of the time by four and most of the time by seven employees of the Black Committee. Fourth. That more than 22,000 telegrams sent from or received at Washington offices between February 1 and December 1, 1935, were copied, under the demand of the Federal Communications Commission, and turned over to the Black Committee. And I pause here to emphasize the fact that the Commission reported to the Senate that it only copied 65 telegrams. Fifth. That in addition to the Washington office seizures, there were served on each of the two telegraph companies over a thousand subpoenas relating to other cities caUing, in general terms, for all messages sent or received by persons, firms or corporations named in the subpoenas, which subpoenas by their plain terms required that telegrams of the most private and confidential nature should be turned over to the Black Committee. Sixth. That thousands of the telegrams delivered to the Black Committee under blanket subpoenas, before the Court halted such actions, which were plainly of a private nature having no relation to any subject the Committee was authorized to investigate, were placed in sealed envelopes on which was endorsed their private and personal character, and that those envelopes, in case after case, were opened by the investigators of the Black Committee and the telegrams inspected. And lastly, I assert that these wholesale 8 searches into and seizures of telegrams of the citizens of this country were carried on from September, 1935, to March, 1936, there being no let-up in it until its crass unconstitutional character caused it to be checked by the Supreme Court of the Nation's Capital. I submit that these assertions are serious enough to require the investigation which I ask the Senate to promptly order and I assure you, my listeners, that everv one of these assertions will be proved to a demonstration if the Senate orders such an investigation. I CALL UPON the Federal Communications Commission to supplement its report to Senator Borah of March 17th by furnishing him with copies of the alleged subpoenas of the Black Committee upon which the Commission now attempts to justify its illegal action and to further furnish to Senator Borah copies of all memoranda of the Commission and its employees concerning or relating to the right of the Black Committee to use the Commission in this unreasonable and unlawful search. Likewise, I ask the Federal Communications Commission to furnish to Senator Borah copies of all of its minutes that in any way relate to its action in this matter and particularly copies of the opinions rendered by its former General Counsel, Paul D. P. Spearman, during the month of March or April, 1935, holding that such a search would be illegal and in violation of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures, as weU as any other opinions rendered by the Legal Division to the Commission on this general question. So FAR THE ONLY effective check upon the unrestrained inquisitorial activities of the Black Committee has been that found in the Federal Courts. Once more we have reason for thanking God that the founders of this Nation saw fit to create a judicial branch coordinate with the legislative and executive 9 branches and paramount in its own field. In calling a halt upon the effort of the Black Committee to inspect the private telegraphic files of a prominent law firm files including confidential messages between attorney and client and between members of the firm and their wives the Court merely fulfilled its constitutional function of protecting one of the basic constitutional rights of all citizens. It may be well to recall here that this same safeguard is the one and only bulwark which protects all other constitutional rights. It protects your right to worship God as you please. It protects your right to speak your mind freely on public questions. It protects your right to vote. It protects your right to a trial by jury, if you are accused of crime, or are plaintiff or defendant in a civil suit. Were it not for the Judicial Branch of the Government the Federal Courts with the Supreme Court at the top you, my fellow citizens, would be subject to any laws or acts which the temporary whim of the Legislative or Executive Branches might dictate, no matter how oppressive or tyrannous in their effect. And unless I am wholly mistaken as to public sentiment, the people are awakening to this condition and to the crying need for the unimpaired maintenance of the safeguard and protection of the Courts. Further, I confidently assert that if any administration or any political party goes before the American electorate with an announced intention to limit or destroy the existing powers of the Judicial Branch, that party or that administration will be overwhelmingly defeated. It WILL BE recalled that prior to the injunction granted to the Chicago law firm of Winston, Strawn & Shaw by Chief Justice Wheat of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia Senator Black made the following statement on the floor of the Senate on March 5th: 10 "I will state very frankly that in my judgment if any judge ever issued an injunction to prevent the delivery of papers that were sought through this body by subpoena the Congress should immediately enact legislation taking away that jurisdiction from the courts. Congress creates the jurisdiction of those courts." The injunction was granted March 12th. No bill has been introduced by Senator Black to limit the jurisdiction of the Courts. If such a bill should be presented it is predicted by Mr. Arthur Krock of the New York Times, one of the administration's friendly newspaper commentators, that there would be no chance of its passage. but THE Black Committtee has done other things. It has, as the Washington Post editorially states, "permitted a confidential telegram obtained through its fishing expedition to be read in the House of Representatives, in defiance of legal effort to forbid such action." Also through one of its investigators on February 12, 1936, it warned the telegraph companies not to notify their customers that the telegrams of such customers have been subpoenaed. The Post very properly adds this observation: "Compromise with such an attitude is out of the question. The lobby investigating committee has challenged the right of the people to keep their private communications free from Federal inquisitors. If the guarantees of the fourth amendment are to be upheld this challenge must be courageously met. Instead of yielding to threats, the telegraph companies should stand firmly on their constitutional rights and force a showdown with senatorial investigators inclined to run amuck." Throughout the country newspapers of all sections and all shades of political belief have voiced similar expressions. The press of the nation has become aroused to the menace to its own integrity involved in the methods pursued by the Black Committee. In my radio address of March 6th I pointed out that there are lit-II erally thousands of confidential messages exchanged each year between newspaper publishers and their editors and their employees and that such messages are an integral part of the mechanics of a free press. Since that time we have had conclusive evidence that press messages have been subject to scrutiny at the hands of the Senate inquisitors. It is a notable fact that in each case the newspapers are those which have been critical of the present administration or of members of the Senate Lobby Committee. An illustration of the latter is the seizure of the complete telegraphic file of the five newspapers in the Northwest controlled by W. H. Cowles of Spokane, Washington. The New York Herald-Tribune, in a news story published March 19th recounting that seizure, stated: "It is known that Mr. Cowles* papers have been critical of the policies of Senator Lewis B. Schwel-lenbach, Democrat, of Washington, a committee member." I leave it to my listeners to guess why the messages of these particular papers were singled out for inspection. SUCH TACTICS as I have mentioned are the opening wedge to censorship of the press. They strike at the very foundation of one of the essentials of constitutional self-government a press that is free of all official influence or coercion. The Baltimore Sun, one of the outstanding liberal newspapers of the country, made the following comment in its issue of March 18th: "When telegrams of individuals some of them communications between lawyer and client are seized under blanket subpoena, when telegrams from a publisher to his employes in Washington are taken over by a Senate committee on a specious pretext, it is clear that the decent limits upon governmental power have been exceeded. The conventional reply of Senator Black to all protests has been, in effect: 'These are bad people who insist on "working in 12 the dark." If they were good people that is, supporters of the New Deal their privacy would have been respected.' This view is supported by the fact that the Black Committee has not called before it or seized the telegrams of such lobbying organizations as the American Legion, the Townsend Plan outfit or Father Coughlin's group. The whole performance has been petty and disgraceful. "It is not to be wondered at that the victims of this abuse of the Senate's wide power have sought the protection of the courts. In all probability, however, it will be discovered that the most effective weapon against such abuses is the sense of decency of the American citizen, who must eventually see that it is one thing honestly to investigate 'attempts to influence legislation' and quite another thing to seek by a reckless and ill-considered use of the committee's powerB to terrify and silence opponents of the party in power. That this is what Senator Black has been doing seems clear enough, not only from his acts but from his extraordinary explanations of them. The injunction is a tempting form of relief, but we believe the fate of the Nye investigation, after its fishing activities had passed the high mark of absurdity, provides a sounder precedent for dealing with the Black bugaboo." IT HAS BEEN widely proclaimed by the Black Committee that the American Liberty League is one of the particular targets of the New Inquisition. The protest I voice is not on account of the League. The League is a quasi-public organization. It has voluntarily filed complete financial statements with the Clerk of the House of Representatives. All receipts that have come to it from its 22,433 contributing members have been listed. Every cent that has been paid out for any purpose has been itemized. The position of the League on matters of legislation in every instance has been stated publicly. The effort has been made to let the largest possible number of people know where we stand and why. Instead of trying to hide our views we have proclaimed them from the house tops. The League has nothing to conceal. It will gladly give the Black Committee anything it has that may be desired. The League is not protesting on its own account, even though it is very sure it would never have aroused the an-13 tagonism of the Black Committee if it had favored instead of opposed the unconstitutional acts of the Roosevelt administration. But we maintain that acts of the Black Committee and of the Federal Communications Commission under the direction of the Black Committee have definitely violated the Fourth Article of the Bill of Rights which protects you and me in our "persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures." And we chaUenge the power of a Senatorial Committee to ignore the restrictions of the Constitution. This provision of the Bill of Rights expresses the guarantee of the right of privacy. For centuries its meaning has been summarized in the saying, "Every man's house is his castle." To paraphrase the immortal words of William Pitt, the elder "The poorest man may in his cottage hid defiance to all the force of the Government of the United States. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it, the storms may enter, the rain may enter but the President of the United States cannot enter. All his forces dare not cross the threshold of that ruined tenement." Three WEEKS AGO I suggested that my radio listeners utilize the resources and facilities of the American Liberty League to formulate a national petition of protest against this tyrannical invasion of fundamental rights by the Black Committee and the Communications Commission. In response to that suggestion petitions hearing many thousands of names have been received at League headquarters in Washington. They are stiU coming in increasing numbers. Once more I invite my listeners to take part in this mammoth protest. If you wish to be numbered among those who desire to express themselves, write the American Liberty League, National Press Building, Washington, D. C, and copies of the petition blanks will be sent to you at once. 14