You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
No. 74 "The National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League: Some Answers to Attempts to Impair the Right of Free Speech and to Impugn the Integrity of the Legal Profession" Address by Ethan A.H. Shepley, Chairman of the Missouri Division of the American Liberty League, November 6, 1935.
No. 74 "The National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League: Some Answers to Attempts to Impair the Right of Free Speech and to Impugn the Integrity of the Legal Profession" Address by Ethan A.H. Shepley, Chairman of the Missouri Division of the American Liberty League, November 6, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_74 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 74 "The National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League: Some Answers to Attempts to Impair the Right of Free Speech and to Impugn the Integrity of the Legal Profession" Address by Ethan A.H. Shepley, Chairman of the Missouri Division of the American Liberty League, November 6, 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 Bill The Holding Company Bill Price Control The Labor Relations Bill The Farmers* Home Bill The TVA Amendments The Supreme Court and the New Deal The Revised AAA Amendments The President's Tax Program Expanding Bureaucracy Lawmaking by Executive Order New Deal Laws in Federal Courts Potato Control Consumers and the AAA Budget Prospects Dangerous Experimentation An Open Letter to the President By Dr. Neil Carothers The National Labor Relations Act Summary of Conclusions from report of the National Lawyers Committee Straws Which Tell The New Deal, Its Unsound Theories and Irreconcilable Policies Speech by Ralph M. Shaw How to Meet the Issue Speech by W. E. Borah The American Bar The Trustee of American Institutions Speech by Albert C. Ritchie Fabian Socialism in the New Deal Speech by Demarest Lloyd The People's Money Speech by Dr. W. E. Spahr Legislation By Coercion or Constitution Speech by Jouett Shouse Recovery by Statute Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers The Imperilment of Democracy Speech by Fitzgerald Hall The Test of Citizenship Speech by Dean Carl W. Acker man Today's Lessons for Tomorrow Speech by Captain William H. Stayton "Breathing Spells" Speech by Jouett Shouse The Duty of the Lawyer in the Present Crisis Speech by James M. Beck The Constitution and the Supreme Court Speech by Borden Burr The Economic Necessity in the Southern States for a Return to the Constitution Speech by Forney Johnston â˜… AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. â˜… â˜… The National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League â˜… â˜… â˜… Some Answers to Attempts to Impair the Right of Free Speech and to Impugn the Integrity of the Legal Profession â˜… Address by ETHAN A. H. SHEPLEY Chairman of the Missouri Division of the American Liberty League Broadcast over Station KM OX St. Louis November 6, 1935 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. â˜… â˜… Document No. 74 The National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League â˜… TlIK American Liberty League contends that the Constitution of the United States is something more than a scrap of paper to be memorized by the schoolboy and forgotten by the politician. It is not merely a campaign slogan. It has been and is a vital guaranty for the preservation of individual liberty against the whims and fancies of those temporarily in power. Its solemn mandate is that the people of this country, and they alone, have the power to change the Constitution; and that unless and until they see fit to do so that Constitution must be respected and adhered to in its present form. The American Liberty League was formed to provide the means by which citizens of this country may express prompt and effective protest against any and every encroachment by the Federal Government upon the personal liberty which is guaranteed by the Constitution. The average citizen, conscious of his isolation, and of the hopelessness of individual effort, remains silent, because his attempt to resist would be little more than an idle gesture. The League plana to relieve that embarrassment, by providing the means for collective expression of public opinion. Some time after the League was formed it became apparent that it would be wise to have the advice of persons who by their training and experience were competent to pass upon the constitutionality of the various and sundry bills that were being introduced in the Congress from time to time. As a result the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League was organized made up of lawyers from various parts of the United States and from both of the major political parties. Its I function was not to pass judgment on the economic or social wisdom of proposed legislation but simply to consider and pass upon its constitutionality. The members are not paid for their work nor are they asked or expected to write a brief either for or against any law. Some months ago the League requested its Lawyers Committee to study and analyze a recent act of Congress known as the National Labor Relations Act (sometimes referred to as the Wagner bill), and having done so to report its findings and conclusions. That was done, and on September 18th the Committee made a comprehensive and full written report and expressed the opinion that the law in question was unconstitutional. XrlE ink had scarcely dried before the League and its Committee of lawyers were attacked and bitterly criticized, and among their critics were to be found representatives and spokesmen of the administration in Washington. We were not particularly surprised at this attack. We realized that the conclusion reached in our report would not be to the liking of the President and his group of advisors and that to oppose or cross them or their wishes in any way was to invite trouble. Their unwillingness to be criticized had become more and more apparent. So I say there was nothing particularly surprising in our being attacked by the administration and by the newspapers and other periodicals that had been supporting its policies. That was to be expected. But it was a surprise to find that these attacks were directed not at the report itself, but at the men who had prepared it. This fact spoke eloquently for the quality of the report and for the soundness of the conclusions reached which obviously was gratifying. But at the same time it was disappointing to find the representatives of our government and some of our leading newspapers attempting to conceal and dodge the real issue an issue of grave importance to every citizen of this country by 3 launching a personal and, we believe, unwarranted attack upon the persons making the report. Our critics tell you first that we are nothing short of impertinent in undertaking to express an opinion as to the validity of an act of Congress before it has been submitted to and passed upon by the Supreme Court. Ever since we have had laws and lawyers it has been the peculiar province of the lawyer to speak frankly and unreservedly on questions of this kind, and the time when he may do so with propriety is before and not after the Court has rendered its decision. If the members of the Bar are to be criticized at all, it is that they have failed to speak soon enough and often enough on matters of this character. To criticize after the Court has acted might well be classified as disrespectful and impertinent, but this is a charge that our President must answer, not the Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League. It will be recalled that not many months ago our Supreme Court was very severely criticized by Mr. Roosevelt in connection with its unanimous decision in the Schechter case, better known perhaps as the "N.R.A. case." It has been intimated by some that we were seeking to influence the Supreme Court and in that respect were impertinent. Had we any such thing in mind when we prepared and published this report we would not only have been impertinent but insane. Whatever else they may be, the members of this Committee are too experienced to believe that the Supreme Court could be influenced in the slightest degree by the fact that our Committee thinks the law in question to be unconstitutional. The Court is not even remotely interested in what you may think, or I may think, or in what the Congress or any one else may think about the constitutionality of this or any other law. If and when this law is brought up for consideration the Court will decide the matter, as it has decided others in the past, on the basis of its own sound 4 judgment. To suggest that we are under any other impression is to charge us not only with impertinence but also with ignorance to a degree heretofore unheard of. But let us pass on now to consider the fairness of the more serious criticism. Our critics tell you that the lawyers on this Committee represent substantial business interests and that by reason of that fact they are not to be trusted. The unsoundness of that reasoning and the unfairness of the charge must be apparent to all save those whose partisanship is so intense as to blind them to the truth and deafen them to reason. In times of depression, when nerves are frayed and feeling runs high, even the most honorable and fair-minded men are apt to be carried away by their prejudices or their partisanship. We become suspicious of one another and question the motive of anyone who dares to oppose or criticize us. Differences of opinion take on the shape of personal feuds and even friendships are strained and in some instances destroyed when social, political or economic subjects are discussed. In these times when we are only too apt to forget that we are all human beings, brothers under the skin, and to think only in terms of class or color or creed or kind, we sometimes say things on the spur of the moment that we really do not believe or mean and would never have said under more normal conditions. I wonder if this particular charge might not fall in this category. There is not so much as a suggestion that any of the lawyers in this group has been dishonest in the practice of his profession no simply that they cannot be trusted because they have substantial clients in other words, have been reasonably successful. Are we to distrust those clergymen who have made a success of their profession the surgeons and physicians whose ability is generally recognized the authors, artists, teachers, bankers or business men who have attained a standing in their respective lines of endeavor? Is the laboring man who has worked 5 his way up to the position of foreman or superintendent to be distrusted because of that fact? The question answers itself obviously no. And there is obviously no reason why the legal profession should be any different than any of the other professions or businesses in this respect. As in any other case, the lawyer in a vast majority of instances is recognized because of his ability and his integrity, and while I would not for one moment say that it is universally true, I have no hesitancy in expressing the opinion that as a general rule it is difficult to find a reasonably successful lawyer who does not represent business interests where there is any business in the community in which he lives. While this proposition seems really too clear for any lengthy discussion or argument and the charge is obviously without merit, its unfairness can, I think, be easily and convincingly demonstrated in the following manner: If our critics really believe in the soundness of this reasoning, namely, that these lawyers cannot be trusted because they represent business interests, how do they account for the fact that when the Presidents of the United States (including Mr. Roosevelt) have had occasion to select members of the Bar for appointment to positions of great trust, they almost invariably selected men of the very type under discussion. A vast majority of the men who have been appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States had, as lawyers, represented business interests; and the same may be said of those who have served as Attorney General, Solicitor General, District Attorneys and Judges of the Federal Courts throughout the country. Are these facts consistent with the theory upon which the criticism is based? To charge or infer that lawyers who represent business are unworthy of trust is not only to deal in a generalization that is wholly unsupported by reason or experience, but also is to cast a very serious, though totally unwarranted, reflection upon the character and honesty of the business men of this country. 6 Are you not yourselves somewhat surprised at the nature of the attack? You are told first that we are impertinent then that we are not to be trusted. These statements you are expected to accept without a question, and, having done so, you are then to conclude that the reasoning and conclusions embodied in our report must be unsound. If that were true, then how do we account for the fact that the report itself seems to be the one thing that has not been attacked and this in spite of the fact that it has been in print and available for nearly two months. After all, the soundness or unsoundness of the conclusions reached in the report is what you are interested in. And yet our critics, after reading the report, have apparently concluded that the safest and easiest course for them is to cast reflections upon the character and integrity of its authors. Their reason seems obvious. Whether or not the Wagner Bill is constitutional whether or not the Congress has undertaken to exercise a power that it does not possess can only be decided when the law in question reaches and is passed upon by the Supreme Court. Until that time it will have to remain a matter of opinion. But in any event the sooner this matter is settled the better it will be for the people of this country, and if our report does nothing other than to hasten that day, we shall have made a contribution for which we need make no apology. 7