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No. 48 "The American Bar - The Trustee of American Institutions" Speech by The Hon. Albert C. Ritchie, Former Governor of Maryland, before the Annual Convention of the Maryland Bar Association, June 29, 1935.
No. 48 "The American Bar - The Trustee of American Institutions" Speech by The Hon. Albert C. Ritchie, Former Governor of Maryland, before the Annual Convention of the Maryland Bar Association, June 29, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_48 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 48 "The American Bar - The Trustee of American Institutions" Speech by The Hon. Albert C. Ritchie, Former Governor of Maryland, before the Annual Convention of the Maryland Bar Association, June 29, 1935. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1935. 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. Pamphlets Available â˜… Copies of the following pamphlets and other League literature may be obtained upon application to the League's national headquarters: Why, the American Liberty League? Statement of Principles and Purposes Progress vs. Change Speech by Jouett Shouse American Liberty League Its Platform An Analysis of the President's Budget Message Analysis of the $4,880,000,000 Emergency Relief Appropriation Act Economic Security The Bonus Inflation The Thirty Hour Week The Pending Banking Bill The Holding Company Bill "What is the Constitution Between Friends?" Speech by James M. Beck Where Are We Going? Speech by James W, Wadsworth Price Control Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow The Labor Relations Bill Government by Experiment Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers How Inflation Affects the Average Family Speech by Dr. Ray Bert Westerfield The AAA Amendments Political Banking Speech by Dr. Walter E. Spahr The Bituminous Coal Bill Regimenting the Farmers Speech by Dr. G. W. Dyer Extension of the NRA Human Rights and the Constitution Speech by R. E. Desvernine The Farmers' Home Bill The TVA Amendments The New Deal, Its Unsound Theories and Irreconcilable Policies Speech by Ralph M. Shaw Is the Constitution for Sale? Speech by Capt. William H. Stayton How to Meet the Issue Speech by William E. Borah The Supreme Court and the New Deal The Duty of the Church to the Social Order Speech by S. Wells Vtley An Open Letter to the President By Dr. Neil Carothers The Revised AAA Amendments The Return to Democracy Speech by Jouett Shouse The President's Tax Program â˜… AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. â˜… â˜… The American Bar The Trustee of American Institutions â˜… â˜… â˜… Speech by THE HON. ALBERT C. RITCHIE Former Governor of Maryland, before the Annual Convention of the Maryland Bar Association at Atlantic City, N. J. Saturday, June 29, 1935 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D.C. â˜… â˜… Document No. 48 The American Bar The Trustee of American Institutions â˜… PeRHAPS as much as ever before there is need now for faith in the abiding and guiding value of all that cumulative wisdom and experience we call the law and the Constitution. There is need, too, for faith in the lawyers as the guardians of our institutions, and need for them to merit that faith. New forces are loose in the land, and new difficulties confront us; where else should we look, if not to the lawyer, for authentic standards by which to test and evaluate these new tendencies and policies? At first the collection of Federal statutes which are called the New Deal were declared to be emergency measures, experimental in nature. Many of them contravened principles of the American Constitution which had long been established both in peace and in war, but the emergency was acute, and lawyers and laymen alike accepted these measures in the hope that they would lead us out of the emergency and into normal times again. It was with this hope that I accepted them for the emergency itself. The experimental period is now about over, and we are face to face with the fact that in all likelihood there will be an ultimate breakdown in our form of government, unless from now on we meet our national problems within and not without those American principles and American institutions which are prescribed by the American Constitution and inherent in the American Government. The objectives of the national administration are, I take it, the promotion and the maintenance of economic recovery on all fronts, and the fulfillment by the government of its modern-day social responsibilities to the people. These are also the objectives you and I want to see attained, and so, I am sure, do the overwhelming majority of the American people, regardless altogether of political considerations. The measures taken by the Federal Government to this end have been necessarily controversial, and I dare to wonder that some of those in high authority in Washington should sometimes denounce so readily and so harshly the motives of those who venture to question any of the government's methods for attaining and maintaining recovery. I am one of those who feel that the time is here now when any one is entitled to disagree, if only he is conscientious about it, with much that comes out of Washington these days, and still be a good American; and in this presence I may add, and still be a good lawyer. Forces are even now developing in this country which profess to think that the American system is not worth saving, that it has outlived its usefulness, that it cannot meet the new problems of the new day, and so it should be scrapped. I am not one of these. I believe that a system of government which has bestowed upon ue so richly and so bountifully the blessings of religious freedom and of civic freedom, free speech and a free press, higher standards of living, shorter hours of work, purer health conditions, better education and enlightenment in all lines of endeavor, a system which survived the throes of civil war, and draws its strength from sources deep in the economic experience and in the democratic impulses of mankind I believe that such a system of government is worth saving and worth preserving, and that it has within itself that which can meet the problems of this or any other day. The American lawyer knows that in this land of diversified customs and diversified peoples, self-government is the constitutional rock on which our national unity and our national stability depend. Yet through the prodigious expenditure of prodigious sums of money, and through the conditions the government imposes upon the States before they can receive these funds, American self-government is being destroyed before our very eyes, and if this course is persisted, then in the end what will be left of self-government in America will be measured by the forebearance of the Federal Government to interfere. THE American lawyer knows that back of all American endeavor and American achievement has always been the free spirit of the American people. I do not mean freedom to exploit public resources or to plunder private citizens. To the extent that these are ills in our body politic, by all means eradicate them, although this need not lead us to passing "death sentences" upon corporate undertakings which would destroy the good as well as the bad. The kind of freedom I mean is the freedom to aspire, to achieve, to create, to rise. I mean that free spirit which is the real incentive for hard work and constructive progress and daring, and which is just as essential now in almost every field of modern activity as it was in the pioneer days when we were winning our western empire. This spirit of individual American freedom is being imperiled by a counter spirit of bureaucratic centralization and by a regimented and nationalized economy which is its antithesis and arch enemy. If we surrender the old to the new spirit, then this will mean the defeat of the American theory of democracy. It will 4 mean that the American Government will be autocratic instead of free, and then where will you find your superman or your master mind to guide it, and if you do find him, what will happen after he is gone? Ihe American lawyer knows that government, like the individual, is subject to economic laws, and one of these is that it cannot, without disaster, live beyond its means. Yet no effort is being made towards balancing the national budget, but on the contrary the national deficit is mounting to alarming proportions; new and strange tax policies are being proposed, accompanied at first by suggestions that they be adopted without taking time to see whither they will lead; new and strange movements and isms are the order of the day, and business men are afraid to lend or to borrow, to stock up supplies, to build, to go ahead, because they cannot count on what is going to happen next and do not know what the dollar will be worth next week. These things and others which time does not permit me to detail fall within the knowledge and experience of the American lawyer, and the American lawyer is invested with an obligation, which he has traditionally discharged, to do his part in trying to see that his government holds fast to what has been tried and tested, to what has proved sound and true and in consonance with those ideals and traditions which have made our country what it is. It should be our task as lawyers to fulfill this obligation to the limit of our abilities against the dangers which threaten now. It would be much easier for me not to say these things. It would be easier and perhaps more appropriate if I adhered to the traditional 5 functions of a toastmaster, and simply presented the speakers. Indeed, with fifteen years' experience in the highest executive office a State can bestow on one of its citizens, I would be the last to question lightly the conduct of public affairs by those charged with the duty of conducting them, and if these matters belonged to the general realm of administrative questions, about which the public so often lacks the knowledge and experience necessary to a well-founded opinion, I would not refer to them at all. But a deep, a fundamental principle of American government is at stake. No politics or partisanship are involved in what I say, nothing but underlying and enduring policies. And as I re-enter the great profession which has been entrusted to the lawyers and judges of the land, I think all of us should assume the obligations of that profession as well as its privileges and benefits. And I feel that a bar and a bench whose progenitors checked royal usurpation in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, a bar and a bench which in nineteenth-century America made our government one of law and not of men, cannot now content themselves with questions of pleading and practice, or even with the ministrations of justice. The American bar and the American bench cannot ignore their traditions of governmental as well as juristic leadership. It is true that the aftermath of a World War and a devastating depression have developed weaknesses in our governmental system. For instance, more adequate provision is needed for the enforced idleness of the aged, the disadvantaged and the unemployables, and new relationships are called for between government on the one hand and capital and labor on the other. But surely the world has not suddenly become so wise in this twentieth century of the Christian era that it can scrap all the wisdom of the past, and it is no mere figure of speech to say that the American bar and the American courts should, in a very real sense, regard themselves as trustees and guardians of American institutions. They should fight for true democratic principles and constitutional safeguards, and especially should they preserve the Supreme Court as the free and untrammeled agency which it now is, to uphold American institutions against anything which would impair or break them down to the injury of our Republic. It is to this wider horizon of the functions of law and lawyers that I presume to invite your attention and our responsibility tonight. The American lawyer is not only guardian in the temple of justice. Even more, he is guardian of the foundations of American society, and as such cannot be blind to forces which imperil them. We must show our faith in this great reservoir of human experience we call the Constitution and the law, with their accumulated traditions of stability, of morality, of justice, of government, and of human and spiritual well-being in State and family. We must show our thinking, fighting faith in these, as the pure fountain from which we can draw the strength to convert the unsound into the sound, uncertainty into harmony, and thus move onward and upward.