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No. 55 "Legislation - By Coercion or Constitution" Speech of Jouett Shouse, July 15, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_55 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 55 "Legislation - By Coercion or Constitution" Speech of Jouett Shouse, July 15, 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: Statement of Principles and Purposes American Liberty League Its Platform An Analysis of the President's Budget Message Economic Security Inflation The Thirty Hour Week The Pending Banking Bill The Holding Company Bill Price Control Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow The Labor Relations Bill How Inflation Affects the Average Family Speech by Dr. Ray Bert Westerfield The Bituminous Coal Bill Regimenting the Farmers Speech by Dr. G. W. Dyer Extension of the NRA 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 Utley An Open Letter to the President By Dr. Neil Carothers The Revised AAA Amendments The Return to Democracy Speech by Joitett Shouse The President's Tax Program The American Bar The Trustee of American Institutions Speech by Albert C. Ritchie Two Amazing Years Speech by Nicholas Roose- Fabian Socialism in the New Deal Speech by Demurest Lloyd The People's Money Speech by Dr. Walter E. Spahr The Principles of Constitutional Democracy and the New Deal Speech by R. E. Desvernine Which Road to Take? Speech by J. Howard Pew The Blessings of Stability Speech by James W. Wadsworth Recovery by Statute Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers â˜… AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. Legislation By Coercion or Constitution Speech of JOUETT SHOUSE President of the American Liberty League over the Columbia Broadcasting System July 15, 1935 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. Document No. 55 Legislation By Coercion or Constitution â˜… TrlE Seventy-fourth Congress has been in continuous session for more than six months. It has passed the supply bills for the ordinary or regular expenditures of the government for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 1936. Following the recommendations of the President as outlined in his budget message of January 7, 1935, it has increased these so-called regular expenditures, without reference to relief or recovery appropriations, by the gigantic sum of one thousand, two hundred and ninety-seven million dollars over the amount expended for similar purposes in the first year for which the Roosevelt administration made appropriations. Understand the fact over and above all of the thousands of millions that are being expended for relief purposes, the ordinary housekeeping expenses of our government have been increased by $1,297,000,000. Thus there is wiped out the last vestige of the economy program put into effect in the first year of the Roosevelt administration and thus cynical ridicule is cast at the promise of the Democratic platform to reduce governmental expenses a full 25%. All of this in spite of the most solemn pre-election promises made by Mr. Roosevelt as a candidate. The Seventy-fourth Congress also appropriated under Presidential orders the gigantic sum of $4,880,000,000 for work relief a sum greater than the total expenses of the Federal government in any year from 1922 to 1931. Every cent of this huge amount has been placed in the hands of the President to use in any way he may see fit, practically without restriction or restraint. Apart from appropriations, the major legislation which the Seventy-fourth Congress has considered is as follows: The Wagner Labor Disputes Bill creating a permanent National Labor Relations Board and 2 prohibiting unions dominated by the companies which they serve. The Social Security, Old Age Pension and Unemployment Bill. The Utility Holding Company Bill which would destroy holding companies, entailing a loss of hundreds of millions to investors in utility securities. The Banking Bill centralizing in a political board control over the money of all the people on deposit in the banks. Amendments to broaden the autocratic powers of the Secretary of Agriculture under the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. A Bill similarly broadening the bureaucratic powers of the Tennessee Valley Authority in its socialistic experiment over a large section of the South. A Bill to create a billion dollar corporation backed by the government to finance farm tenants in the purchase and equipment of land. The Bituminous Coal Bill which would socialize one of our major national resources. A Tax Bill thrust in by the President at the fag end of a long and arduous session with the apparent political purpose of attempting to steal the thunder of those who have been advocating in various forms the idea of sharing the wealth of the Nation. ^V^ITH the exception of the Tax Bill now under consideration, every measure here listed is open to serious question on the basis of constitutionality. The President himself in criticizing the decision of the Supreme Court which outlawed the NRA said that by the terms of that decision both the AAA and the TVA were condemned. And yet the President has used and is using all the power of his office to compel Congress to pass amendments to these acts which will broaden administrative authority and extend the bureaucratic control exercised under them. It should be noted also that, in the case of the AAA, under the guise of conformity to the 3 Supreme Court decision a dishonest subterfuge is being attempted. The language of the original Act is so amended that decisions of the courts which ban the proposal as illegal are rendered moot and protestants must start again at the bottom in their tests of constitutionality. The Bills enumerated form the so-called "must" list of the President Acts which he says must be passed before he will permit Congress to adjourn. What consideration has been given by him to their constitutionality? The Bituminous Coal Control Bill is before the Ways and Means Committee of the House. The Attorney General of the United States, called to testify, refused to express the opinion that it is constitutional. On the other hand, there is good reason to believe that he has pronounced it unconstitutional. But, despite that fact, despite his Presidential oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution, Mr. Roosevelt ten days ago did a thing that seems inconceivable in a President of this Republic. Advised that the Committee having the legislation under consideration might refuse to sanction it because of the belief that it was unconstitutional, he addressed a letter to the Chairman of that Committee. I quote from his letter this astounding sentence: "I hope your Committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation." All past Presidents of the United States, with possibly one exception, from Washington down to the present Roosevelt, whatever their faults or shortcomings, have by word expressed and by act shown reverence for the Constitution. Most of them have been vocal in their expressions. Let us see what some of them have said. George Washington, himself one of the f ramers of the Constitution, in his farewell address made the point that it is of vital importance "for those intrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them." Abraham Lincoln once said that when he took the oath to support and defend the Constitution he meant just that and not to take the oath as a means to get into power to fight and defeat the Constitution. Grover Cleveland, in his inaugural address on March 4, 1893, made this forthright statement: "The oath I now take to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States not only impressively defines the great responsibility I assume, but suggests obedience to constitutional commands as the rule by which my official conduct must be guided. I shall to the best of my ability and within my sphere of duty preserve the Constitution by loyally protecting every grant of Federal power it contains, by defending all its restraints when attacked by impatience and restlessness, and by enforcing its limitations and reservations in favor of the States and the people." William Howard Taft, the only man who ever served our country both as President and as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in a veto message to Congress as follows: "The oath that the Chief Executive takes, and which each member of Congress takes, does not bind him any less sacredly to observe the Constitution than the oaths which the Justices of the Supreme Court take. It is questionable whether the doubtful constitutionality of a bill ought not to furnish a greater reason for voting against the bill, or vetoing it, than for the Court to hold it invalid. "The Court will only declare a law invalid where its unconstitutionality is clear, while the lawmaker may very well hesitate to vote for a bill of doubtful constitutionality because of the wisdom of keeping clearly within the fundamental law. "The custom of legislators, or executives having any legislative functions, to remit to the courts the entire and ultimate responsibility as to the constitutionality of the measures which they take part in passing is an abuse which tends to put the Courts constantly in opposition to the Legislature and Executive, and, indeed, to the popular supporters of unconstitutional laws." Did time permit I could quote similar expressions from practically all of our Presidents. These appear sufficient. But let me deal for a moment with another aspect of the case. The Democratic party since its foundation by Jefferson has been a strong national force for maintaining the sanctity of the Constitution. The present administration is being constantly referred to as an unconstitutional administration. That is occasioned by the fact that four decisions handed down by the Supreme Court within the space of a few months have declared that acts of Congress or acts of the Executive are unconstitutional. In consideration of the Bituminous Coal Bill important officials of the government and leading members of Congress question its constitutionality. The President 6 says to Congress, pass it anyway. No member of Congress and no President can be true to his oath of office if he assumes the attitude of leaving it up to the courts to decide as to the constitutionality of a legislative act, thereby ducking personal and individual responsibility. When the President attacked the Supreme Court decisions in his carefully prepared speech to newspaper men on May 31st last it was the practically unanimous opinion of those present that he purposed asking for an Amendment to the Constitution that would prevent the Supreme Court from upsetting an act of Congress. In the case with which he dealt it would have allowed him to assume the wide unconstitutional powers which Congress had granted him without the possibility of interference. The reaction of the country to this astounding suggestion of the President was so definite and so unfavorable that, for the time being, he did not carry the issue further. It is a notable fact, however, that members of his Cabinet in speeches subsequent to his statement of May 31st have bitterly attacked the Supreme Court and have concurred in the Presidential suggestion that the powers of the Court should be limited. Moreover, only last week, the two Congressional spokesmen sent from Washington to participate in the round table discussions of public affairs at the University of Virginia devoted their entire arguments to the theory that the Supreme Court was never intended to be given the power of declaring acts of Congress unconstitutional and that this power had been seized by the Court and should be withdrawn. The fallacy of such contentions are, of course, wholly upset by the copious notes and comments by James Madison during the period that the Constitution was under consideration. But the expressions from these gentlemen and others who, apparently, have gone forth from the Presidential presence to voice the Presidential intention would indicate that we shall face within a short 7 time the question of whether the Supreme Court shall be allowed to continue to exercise its proper functions or whether the system of checks and balances and the division of power as between the three coordinate branches of the government which is the greatest protection for the citizens of this Republic shall be disturbed and the Judiciary become merely a creature of the Executive. Students of history tell us and tell us truly that the reason the Republics of Greece and Rome did not survive was because they did not have an independent, fearless Judiciary, clothed with ample power to protect the citizen in his rights. If the issue shall arise in this country as to whether the power of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution is to be curtailed, under either this or some other administration, I have no apprehension as to the result. The American people will not subject themselves to the irresponsible rule of temporary legislative majorities or to the whims of bureaucrats in the Executive Department. I WONDER if my listeners tonight realize just what Congress and the President could do if the Supreme Court were deprived of the power which it has exercised since the foundation of this Nation. In these circumstances, Congress could establish a state religion. It could prohibit free speech. It could abolish a free press. It could prohibit citizens from assembling to petition the government. It could prevent a citizen from having arms for his own protection. It could provide for the quartering of soldiers in your household in time of peace. It could authorize the searching of your homes and the seizure of your goods and papers without cause or reason. It could authorize the issuance of a warrant for your arrest at the whim of some official and without any supporting oath or affirmation. It could provide for the seizure of your property without compensation. It could abolish the right of trial by jury and the supreme right to an impartial trial. It could provide for cruel and unjust punishment and 8 for excessive bail and fines. In other words, every protection which the Constitution has thrown about the individual citizen for whose benefit it was adopted would be entirely withdrawn and the people of America would be subject to the autocratic whim of the temporary governing body just as are many of the peoples of Europe today. If the present administration or any subsequent administration wishes to go before the American people with a proposition making possible such results, I, for one, welcome that issue. There are only two possible forms of legislation. One is by the Constitution with the protection which the Constitution affords, the other is through coercion of an Executive desiring to assume, for whatever purpose and actuated by whatever motive, greater and greater power. The President himself, when he wrote to the Ways and Means Committee, "I hope your Committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation" he, himself, unlike his eminent predecessors in that great office, indicated an appalling lack of concern for the constitutional restraints which represent the protection of the people. On the other hand, unfortunately, actions of the President in repeated instances have shown that he will not hesitate to attempt legislation by coercion. Representatives of the Executive Branch of the government recently, for the first time in our history, have gone freely upon the floors of the halls of Congress in their effort to influence legislation in accordance with the President's desire. It is not for the President to decide what legislation shall be passed. Under the Constitution, he is charged with the duty of making suggestion to Congress and Congress is charged with the duty of either accepting or rejecting such suggestion, but particularly is it charged with the duty of writing the legislation that it shall pass. But we have gone to such lengths in this country the last two years that legislation written at the White House is sent to 9 Congress with orders that it be passed without change and without amendment and practically without discussion. Only this morning, metropolitan newspapers gave front page headlines four columns wide to the assertion by the Chairman of a Congressional Committee that the Committee would write its own bill and did not want one sent to it from any source. The Senator in charge of the pending AAA Amendments, when asked on the floor who had written the Amendments, stated that he wished to goodness he knew. X ASSUME there will be no attempted contradiction of fact either by Congress or by the Executive that we have had legislation offered directly from the White House not merely the suggestion but the finished bills themselves. I assume there can be no doubt in the mind of any man who has witnessed what has gone on in Washington that this legislation has in more than one instance been forced through an unwilling Congress. Every influence that an all-powerful administration could exert has been used without hesitancy and without conscience. Even a most friendly commentator, Arthur Krock, in the New York Times of last Friday, in speaking of the administration efforts in connection with the Holding Company Bill said this: "Representatives of the Executive arm, ranging from the bill-drafters of the Brain Trust to strong-arm patronage dispensers, tried every persuasion they knew, and failed." If the American people are willing to upset the form of government which they have developed and in which they have believed, they can follow no more sure course of bringing about its destruction than through permitting legislation by coercion. LAST week the American Liberty League sponsored one of the round tables at the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. In response to the criticisms voiced by League speakers toward the present admin-10 istration some of those in attendance made the point that the League is merely a destructive agency trying to tear down what is being done without a program of its own. I desire to answer that challenge. If the present administration will abide by the platform upon which it was elected and to which it gave unqualified endorsement, if it will adhere to the sacred oath which it swore to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution," I give the promise that it will have the enthusiastic cooperation of the American Liberty League. But if you, my friends of the radio audience, feel as do we that your rights and privileges under the Constitution are in danger, that the American form of government is in the process of being changed or destroyed, we invite you to join with us in the fight that we are making not against a man or a set of men but for the everlasting preservation of a principle. We welcome to membership all of those who accept the Constitution as their banner and their guide. Merely write us addressing American Liberty League, National Press Building, Washington, D. C, and you will be enrolled to help carry on this fight for the preservation of American ideals and the protection of the rights of American citizenship. 11