You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
No. 118 "Abuses Of Power" Speech of Jouett Shouse broadcast over the National Broadcasting Company network on April 8, 1936. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_118 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 118 "Abuses Of Power" Speech of Jouett Shouse broadcast over the National Broadcasting Company network on April 8, 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 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 League 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.** 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 Date............ I desire to be enrolled as a member of the American Liberty League. Signature ................................ Name ................................. Street .................................. Town .................................. County .......................... State. Enclosed find my contribution of $....... to help support the activities of the League. (118) â˜… â˜… ABUSES OF POWER â˜… â˜… â˜… Speech of JOUETT SHOUSE President of the American Liberty League over the network of the National Broadcasting Company April 8, 1936 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. Document No. 118 Abuses of Power 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 12. â˜… SeNATOR Lewis B. Schwellenbach continued his defense of the unlawful dragnet subpoenas of the Black Lobby Committee in a radio address on Thursday night, April 2. The Senator is a member of that committee, whose search and seizure of private telegrams was denounced and enjoined on March 11 by the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. The court held that the committee's raid upon telegraph offices in Washington went far beyond the legal powers of an investigating committee. The decision was based upon the guarantee in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The Black Committee was found guilty of an assault upon that pillar of popular rights and liberties. The restraint of the Federal Court was placed upon the hands of the committee. Now it would seem that if Senator Schwellenbach, as spokesman for the Black Committee, has any quarrel, it is with the Constitution and the Courts. But instead of meeting that clear issue the Senator's address was devoted to denunciation of individuals, associations, alleged lobbyists, the World War, vague and unnamed opponents of neutrality and enemies of "honest Government." So wide was the range that I shall have to confess that I should not have been surprised if Mr. Schwellenbach had brought up the question as to why the Washington baseball team has not yet hired a first-string catcher to pair up with its excellent pitching staff. 3 T HE SENATOR'S defense purported to be a reply to two radio speeches which I made in March with respect to the illegal methods of the Black Committee. I shall take time to very briefly repeat a statement which has so disturbed Senator Schwellenbach. I said on March 6th, and now reiterate, that the foUowing facts had been established: "Every telegram sent by any citizen of the United States to anyone in Washington between February 1 and December 1, 1935, has been subject to examination by the Federal Communications Commission or the Black Committee. Every telegram sent out of Washington during those ten months has been subject to such examination. ... I mean that if you, wherever you live, sent any telegram, however private, to anyone in Washington or if you sent any telegram, however private, out of Washington to anyone in the world upon any subject, during the period in question, your telegram has come under the prying eyes of the New Inquisition." Those assertions are still true in every detail. Let us see how Senator Schwellenbach answered them. He said: "A check by our committee as reported to the Senate of the United States showed that if the foregoing statement was correct fourteen million telegrams had come under what Mr. Shouse calls the "prying eyes' of our committee. Last Friday night, speaking from this network, Mr. Shouse revised his figures and stated, quoting, 'That more than 22 thousand telegrams sent from or received at the Washington office between February 1 and December 1, 1935, were copied and turned over to the Black Committee.' In other words, Mr. Shouse now admits that his statement of March 6th was incorrect to the tnne of 13.978,000 telegrams." The Black Lobby Committee spokesman in that comment betrayed a really profound lack of faith in the inteUigence of his listeners. He asks the people to overlook the fact that I did not say all the telegrams referred to were examined. I said that for a ten month period they had been "subject to examination." It does not matter whether the number of telegrams in the Washington offices was 14,000,000 or 20,000,000, I repeat that every one of them was made subject to "prying eyes" through unlawful manoeuvers of the New Inquisition. NOW note ONE of my statements that was quoted by the Senator, but, significantly, not denied by him. I refer to the assertion that 22,000 telegrams were copied and turned over to the Black Committee. Will the Senator or any other member of his committee or anyone in my hearing tonight explain to me how 22,000 telegrams could have been selected from the files of the telegraph companies without the necessity of pawing over countless other messages? It was a fishing expedition and I am not so credulous as to believe that even the trained fingers of the agents of an overzealous and politically organized Senate Committee could or did have a magic touch enabling them to pounce upon thousands of particular telegrams without unlawfully reading private messages. The Black Committee confesses it has read and taken possession of such private telegrams. It makes this confession when it seeks to reassure the people by declaring that it has not and wiU not use such private communications or make them public. As a matter of fact it did cause to be made public a telegram from a newspaper publisher to one of his writers, which in no way whatsoever concerned the activities of the Black Committee. Aside from that the Committee utterly ignores the fact that no committeeman, and much less one of the small army of hired agents of the Committee, has any right to read a private message, or even to take it into his possession. Senator schwellenbach, entangling himself still further in a net of loose and sweeping assertions, tells us that every one of the 22,000 telegrams admittedly copied was from or to a lobbyist. He said in his speech of last Thursday night: "Neither the Committee or its agents examined a single solitary telegram sent to or by any person, association or corporation that was not engaged in the business of lobbying." In answer to the Senator's assertion I repeat the charge made in my speech March 27th 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. Furthermore let us look at the record of the offense which led to the judicial denunciation of the Committee. In that case the Committee was seeking to seize all the telegrams of a prominent Chicago law firm, Winston, Strawn and Shaw. Those telegrams did not relate to lobbying. Nobody concerned in the sending or receiving of those messages was in the business of lobbying. I believe it is a justifiable suspicion that the Black Committee was eager and willing to override the Constitution in order to purloin those private communications because one member of that law firm is the head of the Illinois State Division of the American Liberty League. IN THE TWO SPEECHES to which Senator SchweUenbach sought to reply I devoted considerable attention to the activities of the Federal Communications Commission. The Senator makes only the briefest passing reference to that subject. He says: "Despite what Mr. Shouse has said, our Committee did not in any instance use the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to secure information or telegrams." I assert that the facts are as follows and will leave to my listeners to judge whether the Senator's statement is true. After the managers of the Washington telegraph offices had refused to respond to blanket subpoenas issued by the Black Committee, agents of the Federal Communications Commission, accompanied by agents of the Black Committee, demanded under authority of the Communications Commission access to all copies of messages in the said offices. These agents went through the files of the Washington telegraph offices and required the telegraph companies to make copies of such messages as these agents desired. More than 22,000 telegrams were thus copied and turned over to the Black Committee. I assert, further, that these facts will be disclosed if an impartial special investigating committee of the Senate will call before it the member of the Federal Communications Commission and its employees who dealt with the matter and the Washington superintendents and attorneys of the two telegraph companies. I HAVE CHARGED before and I repeat the charge that in thus permitting itself to be used by the Black Committee the Federal Communications Commission was guilty of an illegal act. Further I assert that the illegality of the act was known to the members of the Commission at the time the act was performed. In March of 1935 the Department of Justice had requested the aid of the Federal Communications Commission in checking telephone records in St. Paul, Minnesota, to assist in catching criminals. About the same time the Securities Exchange Commission asked the Federal Communications Commission to aid in detecting persons carrying on a brokerage business of questionable nature. I have before me a copy of the Minutes of a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission dated April 18, 1935, 2:30 P.M. At that time the Commission adopted a letter to be mailed to the Attorney General of the United States in which the Commission held that it had no power under the law to cooperate with either the Department of Justice or the Securities Exchange Commission as requested. Despite this clear and definite decision by the Commission of its lack of authority to examine telegrams except for the purposes named in the Act creating it, namely, improvement of wire and radio communication service, it improperly and illegally lent itself to the demand of the Black Senatorial Committee, of which Senator Schwellenbach is a member, to make subject to inspection all telegrams in the local offices of the two telegraph companies between February 1st and December 1st, 1935, and under its assumed authority actually compeBed the telegraph companies to copy some 22,000 of these messages and turn them over to the Black Committee. The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency. It is not under any of the various executive departments. It is answerable only to the President. It is the President's representative in dealing with the branches of public service over which it has authority. A startling part of the whole business is the fact that neither the President nor any one connected with his office seems in the least concerned over this illegal act of a Federal agency. And the Senate has not interested itself in getting at the facts beyond the evasive reply of the Communications Commission in response to a Senate resolution. ONLY MONDAY of this week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision directed at the attempt of government bureaus to use power not given them by law. The case under consideration was a chaUenge of a regulation of the Securities Exchange Com- mission holding that a broker must produce under subpoena his private papers and books. The decision of the Court was a stern warning against governmental invasion of the constitutional rights of citizens. With reference to the action of the Securities Exchange Commission the Court said that this action "finds no support in right principle or in law. It is whoUy unreasonable and arbitrary. It violates the cardinal precept upon which the constitutional safeguards of personal liberty ultimately rest, that this shall be a government of laws, because to the precise extent that the mere wiU of an official or an official body is permitted to * * * supplant the standing law as a rule of human conduct, the government ceases to be one of laws and becomes an autocracy." The Court then went on to say that "arbitrary power and the rule of the Constitution cannot both exist. They are antagonistic and incompatible forces and one or the other must of necessity perish whenever they are brought into conflict. * * * If the various administrative bureaus and commissions * * * are permitted graduaUy to extend their powers by encroachments, * * * upon the fundamental rights, privileges and immunities of the people, we shall in the end, while avoiding the fatal consequences of a supreme autocracy, become submerged by a multitude of minor invasions of personal rights, less destructive but no less violative of constitutional rights." THE APPLICATION of this opinion to Congressional investigations seemed apparent when the Court quoted a decision of Judge Sawyer concerning a fishing expedition as follows: "A general, roving, offensive inquisitorial, compulsory investigation, conducted by a commission, without any allegations, upon no fixed principles, and governed by no rules of law, or of evidence, and no restrictions except its own will, or caprice, is unknown to our Constitution and laws; and such an inquisition would be destructive of the rights of the citizen, and an intolerable tyranny. Let the power once be established, and there is no knowing where the practice under it would end." The Court then went on to say "the fear that some malefactor may go unwhipped of justice weighs as nothing against this just and strong condemnation of a practice so odious. And, indeed, the fear itself has little of substance upon which to rest. The Federal courts are open to the Government and the Grand Jury abides as the appropriate constitutional medium for the preliminary investigation of crime and the presentment of the accused for trial. "The philosophy that constitutional limitations and legal restraints upon official action may be brushed aside upon the plea that good, perchance, may follow, finds no countenance in the American system of government. An investigation not based upon specified grounds is quite as objectionable as a search warrant not based upon specific statements of fact. Such an investigation, or such a search, is unlawful in its inception and cannot be made lawful by what it may bring * * * to light." Committee of the American Liberty League. It recommends that all political parties include in the platforms to be adopted at their Conventions a declaration reading in substance as follows: "We pledge our party unequivocally to oppose any attempt to curtail or abolish any of the powers now exercised by the Judicial Branch of the Government, whether such attempt be made directly through proposals to amend the Federal Constitution, or indirectly through legislative devices intended to accomplish the same result by devious route. "Furthermore, we declare that strict adherence to this pledge both in letter and spirit is an obligation binding in honor upon the candidates who accept the nominations for the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency tendered them by this convention." Never fail to remember that independent and courageous Courts to interpret the guarantees of liberty embodied in our Constitution are the only effective safeguards of such rights as free speech, a free press, religious liberty, trial by jury and protection of homes and possessions against the whim or the malice of autocratic bureaucrats or temporary legislative majorities. THIS COURAGEOUS DECISION of the Supreme Court will hearten all who believe in the protection of constitutional rights, but, like other recent decisions, it will be condemned by the bureaucrats of the New Deal and the spokesmen for the New Inquisition. In prior addresses I have referred to the studied effort of the present administration to break down the confidence of the people in the Courts. It foreshadows an attempt to curtail or abolish some of the powers now exercised by the judiciary. There is an opportunity for the American people this year to put an end to this attempt to establish bureaucratic tyranny in the United States. That opportunity was pointed out in a resolution recently adopted by the Executive