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No. 62 "Today's Lessons for Tomorrow" Speech of Captain William H. Stayton, July 13, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_62 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 62 "Today's Lessons for Tomorrow" Speech of Captain William H. Stayton, July 13, 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 The Labor Relations Bill The Bituminous Coal Bill 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 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 Jouett 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 Roosevelt Fabian Socialism in the New Deal Speech by Demarest 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 Legislation By Coercion or Constitution Speech by Jouett Shouse Recovery by Statute Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers Expanding Bureaucracy The Imperilment of Democracy Speech by Fitzgerald Hall The Test of Citizenship Speech by Dean Carl W. Ackerman AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. Today's Lessons for Tomorrow â˜… â˜… â˜… Speech of CAPTAIN WILLIAM H. STAYTON Secretary of the American Liberty League in Round Table Discussion of "The Constitution and the New Deal" Institute of Public Affairs University of Virginia July 13, 1935 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D.C. Document No. 62 Today's Lessons for Tomorrow â˜… I REGRET to have to tell you that Judge Dawson, who was to have spoken to you this morning, is kept away by serious illness in his family, and that at the last minute I am detailed as pinch hitter. I did not have sufficient notice to enable me to prepare even notes from which to talk, but perhaps that is just as well, for the speaker who has preceded me has not spoken on what I thought was to be the subject for the day. I had supposed that there would be a calm discussion of what the New Dealers expected to accomplish and of why the Liberty League opposes the New Deal policies. It has been a disappointment to me to find our time taken up in abuse of the Liberty League. It was a surprise to me also to hear in these halls that Jefferson is out of date and that it would be a stupidity to quote from him. We have just been told that Jefferson lived in an agricultural age and that this is an era of machines and industry and that Jefferson should be forgotten. I HAVE not felt that Truth is ephemeral. The Ten Commandments were handed down in a pastoral age, and yet we of the Liberty League believe that their truths endure today as they have through the centuries. And so we think, where Jefferson uttered truths, they endure. On a subject that seems to me pertinent to American conditions of today, Jefferson said: "It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights. Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism ; free government is founded in jealousy; not in confidence. It is jealousy and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power. Our Constitution has, accordingly, fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." That fundamental verity is just as true today as it was when uttered. Unhappily, many of us now in the League forgot Jefferson's warning and gave our confidence to Mr. Roosevelt. Soon we learned that he justified Jefferson's fears and that once entrusted with authority he seized almost limitless power; and he seized it unconstitutionally, for the Supreme Court has so said. I AM told that two days ago in this room my friend, Mr. Sisson, said that the Supreme Court had no right to declare an act unconstitutional; that that doctrine was a somewhat devilish invention of John Marshall to subvert the Government. I hope Mr. Sisson did not say that sort of thing, for I admire him greatly and do not think that as a lawyer he made so reckless and misleading a statement. The facts are that as, prior to the settlement of America, England had no written constitution the English courts could not declare legislative acts unconstitutional. But the colonies operated under charters which were in effect written constitutions, and the colonists were not permitted to pass laws outside of the charter limits. When they attempted such action the laws were declared void. So, our forefathers became acquainted with the doctrine of judicial repudiation of unconstitutional legislative enactments. While the Constitutional Convention was sitting in Philadelphia in 1787 the Rhode Island courts declared a state law unconstitutional and the North Carolina courts did the same thing. These cases were both discussed in the Philadelphia papers while the Convention was in session and Madison himself brought up the Rhode Island case in the Convention. He pointed out that under the new Constitution, 4 if adopted, unconstitutional acts would be declared void by the courts. Then Hamilton wrote his articles for the Federalist in order to secure the adoption of the proposed new Constitution, and he definitely laid down the doctrine that the Supreme Court would have to pass on the constitutionality of laws. It is a mistake, therefore, to say that this doctrine was invented by Marshall. One of Washington's early acts as President years before the Marshall decision was to veto an act because of its unconstitutionality. Indeed if one will consider constitutional provisions he must, I think, be brought to the conclusion that the doctrine is essential to the existence of our form of government. For example: let me suppose that a Congress should pass an act providing that the President might be impeached by say the Ways and Means Committee of the House and that he might be tried before a Committee of the Senate and that one-half of that committee would be enough to convict. Is it possible that the President would have to stand such an outrage as that? Is it not clear that some court must protect him in his constitutional rights and declare such a law unconstitutional? BUT let me return now to the matter of Jefferson's warning to the effect that history shows that men entrusted with power are likely to seek more of it. The story of Franklin D. Roosevelt shockingly illustrates the truth of Jefferson's conclusion. Let us divide Mr. Roosevelt's recent career into three periods; first, his service as Governor of New York; second, as a presidential candidate; and, third, as President. During the first period Mr. Roosevelt sought to enhance his own power by advocating the curtailment of federal authority and the corresponding augmentation of State functions. During the period of his candidacy he repeatedly promised to reduce federal activities and expenditure; and, in many speeches, showed 5 how fully aware he was of the danger of expansion of the federal bureaus and the enlargement of the federal budget. Since taking the Presidency, however, Mr. Roosevelt has steadily sought to increase his power and, in so doing has lost sight of the Constitution and of his oath of office. He seems to have reached the state of mind in which he is convinced that his intentions are the purest ever held by mere man and his ability superior to that of all prior rulers. He is, therefore, obsessed with the firm and honest belief that he should enhance his personal power for the benefit of humanity. I SHOULD not make use of these generalities without citing some of the specific incidents on which I base them. Take the NIRA for example. It was unconstitutional, yet by Mr. Roosevelt's orders it was pushed through the House of Representatives under the gag rule. The Chairman of the Rules Committee, a prominent Democrat, specifically said (as is shown by the Congressional Record) that that Act when passed would make Mr. Roosevelt "a dictator over industry" but he added that it was to be a "benign dictatorship." Now a "dictator" whether "benign" or not is one who seeks personal power. The American Liberty League believes that Mr. Roosevelt is seeking personal power and is thereby endangering the institutions of this country and our very form of government, especially as he is seeking the power unconstitutionally. We do not say that his motives are evil we constantly seek to avoid statements or even thoughts as to motives, for no man can know the heart of another but we do condemn his methods. If he wants to do things that are forbidden by our present constitution, then the road by amendment is open to him. And when the State Legislatures were in session he could probably within six months have secured an amendment to the Constitution authorizing the NIRA and conferring the other powers which he and the Administration generally usurped in disregard of their oaths of office and in violation of their promises. Now let me cite other cases. First: there was the "Hot Oil" law. Jt was an effort to put into the hands of Mr. Roosevelt, individually, power over even intrastate commerce in oil. It was unconstitutional and great damage was done by the illegal enforcement of this vicious measure. Second: we have the Humphrey case where an unconstitutional effort was made to oust a man from office merely because his mind did not go along with that of Mr. Roosevelt. He, it would seem, did not want independent judgment of members of commissions. He wanted to exercise the power himself or through rubber stamps. He did just what Jefferson said such a man as Mr. Roosevelt would do. Then we have the case of the NIRA which I have already mentioned. Again a feverish grasping for arbitrary power. Then you know there are several cases where the federal courts have declared acts unconstitutional. Judge Dawson so declared in a Kentucky case when he was then a Federal judge, and were he here today he would, I believe, repeat to you what he said in that case, namely: "The citizens of this country have the right to conduct their business without unconstitutional interference or regulation by governmental authority. ... If that interference takes the form of exacting payment of wages in excess of what the citizen is willing to pay, to the extent of the increased wages this citizen has been injured." Again, you will recall that the President asked for and obtained a grant of nearly five billions of dollars to be wrung from a suffering and overburdened people in time of financial distress and depression. And he refused to share authority for the expenditure of that sum with anybody and had it practically turned over to him so that his financial power might be greater than ever before exercised by even a "benign dictator." You will remember, too, his petulance when the Supreme Court, performing its sworn duty, said that the Congress had exceeded its authority in granting powers to him. Unless he had wanted power, excessive power, he would not have been petulant with the Court under such circumstances. A.ND although there are many other cases I might mention I will confine myself to one which seems to me to illustrate an insatiable thirst for power even when the President knows that such power does not belong to him and even though he knows also that he took an oath that he would not violate the Constitution but would defend and preserve it. The case to which I refer is his recent letter urging the passage of an act in spite of reasonable doubts as to its constitutionality. That has not been the course of the Presidents heretofore. Washington, as I have said, vetoed measures when he entertained doubts as to their constitutionality. I, as a lifelong Democrat, have certainly felt that Grover Cleveland knew his Constitution and knew Democratic doctrine. I well remember that he vetoed laws on the ground that they were unconstitutional. Yet here we have a Democratic President urging and even securing the passage of laws which he must know to be unconstitutional for he is a lawyer and has thousands of advisers paid from public funds for knowing the Constitution. There was a time when Mr. Roosevelt actually felt that the accumulation of mighty powers in the hands of a President was a dangerous thing; but I believe that when in office he craved power and brought himself exactly within Jefferson's assertion concerning men who are willing to sacrifice their old principles and the rights of the people in order to rule arbitrarily over other men. Again let me cite a specific instance to illus- trate my meaning. When Mr. Roosevelt was a candidate he said at Sioux City in September, 1932: "We are not getting an adequate return for the money we are spending in Washington; or to put it another way, we are spending altogether too much money for government services. ... In addition to this we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal Government is giving the people." Now that statement was an acknowledgment of some of the declarations of the Democratic platform to which Mr. Roosevelt had asserted that he adhered 100 per cent. And yet, in spite of the platform and in spite of his own statement just quoted, he, in an effort to get greater power, has already increased the number of civil officials he appoints by 148,000 and he has raised the ordinary annual housekeeping expenses of the Government please notice that I am not speaking at all about relief but just ordinary housekeeping one and one-quarter billions of dollars; and during his brief period in office he has created 31 new bureaus and filled them with his own political appointees. These facts must be my justification for saying on behalf of the League that we believe that Mr. Roosevelt is craving power and using it dangerously and in defiance of the rights of the people, and in violation of his promises and his oath. FOR seven hundred years the Anglo-Saxons have carried on their struggle for the rights of the people against wrongs done by rulers. In that period they have on 17 occasions (or more than twice per century) resorted to the tactics of bloodshed either by arms or the executioner. We Americans have resorted to governmental bloodshed only twice first when the colonies revolted and second when the Southern States fought for what they believed to be their rights. On various other occasions, when officials have wronged the people, we have resorted to im- peachment, and so, thanks to our written Constitution, have been saved from the shedding of blood. In all of these cases there have been courtiers and sycophants adhering to the officials against the great body of the people. Today, many people believe they are oppressed but they are not unanimous. Courtiers and tories still exist. But the resentful ones are sufficiently numerous to cause me to rejoice that we still have the power of impeachment. I KNOW that there are people who will say that Mr. Roosevelt has merely changed his mind with the change of circumstances and that it is not only a man's right but his duty to change his mind when a situation has been altered. That, however, is not quite true. If you hire a man to do a particular piece of work for you and he tells you how he is going to do it and promises to do it in that fashion, he has no right to subsequently change his mind and do it in a different fashion without your permission, and then take pay as though he had carried out his agreement. Generally speaking, of course no man has a right to change his mind if other people have relied on his prior promise and if they are injured by his change of attitude. A change of mind is one thing, but the breach of a promise is quite different. Now Mr. Roosevelt made promises when he was a candidate, and he has not kept them; and the failure to keep them has robbed me and mine of individual rights, yet Mr. Roosevelt continues to draw a salary and to tax me and mine to help pay him. evil intentions, lead a people toward despotism and its inevitable poverty and misery. The subject assigned for this morning's discussion was "Today's Lessons for Tomorrow." I have reviewed as I see them some of the happenings and facts of today's situation. I believe that the best lesson we can draw from them for tomorrow is a stern realization that many men, when entrusted with great power, change their very natures. That against such we must ever be on guard. And that liberty will be safe in this country only if we take seriously to heart Jefferson's words: "It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights. Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy, not in confidence. It is jealousy and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power. Our Constitution has, accordingly, fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." To ME, it is an unhappy state of affairs when Americans have come to believe that good intentions justify the violation of an oath. I regret to see the people bestowing their precious adulation so unthinkingly. I wish we might all realize that even the best of men may, without 10 11