You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
No. 95 "The President Has Made the Issue" Speech of Charles I. Dawson, Chairman of the Kentucky Division and Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League, at the American Liberty League Dinner, January 25, 1936.
No. 95 "The President Has Made the Issue" Speech of Charles I. Dawson, Chairman of the Kentucky Division and Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League, at the American Liberty League Dinner, January 25, 1936. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_95 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 95 "The President Has Made the Issue" Speech of Charles I. Dawson, Chairman of the Kentucky Division and Member of the National Lawyers Committee of the American Liberty League, at the American Liberty League Dinner, January 25, 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. AN INVITATION TO JOIN THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE â˜… â˜… The President We extend to every American citizen who believes in Has Made the fundamental principles which gave birth to the Constitution of the United States an invitation to be- come a member of the American Liberty League. the Issue You may indicate your acceptance of this invitation by filling in the necessary information as to your name and address on the enrollment blank below and mailing it to American Liberty League, National Press Building, â˜… â˜… â˜… Washington, D. C. There are no fees or dues. If you are willing and able to give monetary help for the League's support Speech of your contribution will be appreciated, as our activities are supported entirely by the voluntary gifts of our CHARLES I. DAWSON members. Of Louisville, Kentucky ENROLLMENT BLANK Chairman of the Kentucky Division and Member of the National Lawyers Date Committee of the American Liberty League I favor the principles and purposes of the American Liberty League and request that I be enrolled as a regular 1 _emb_- â˜… [ 'contributing J Signature American Liberty League Dinner Washington, D. C. Name (Mr. Mrs. Miss) January 25, 1936 | Street 1 Town \V' County State *As a contributing member I desire to give $_ AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE to help support the activities of the League: Cash here- National Headquarters with Installments as follows: NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. â˜… â˜… (95) Document No. 95 The President Has Made the Issue â˜… TrllS assemblage of earnest and thoughtful men and women, who have come from all quarters of the Nation to give voice and substance to their opposition to the un-American and destructive program of the present National Administration, confirms me in the belief that the American people cannot be bullied, boycotted or bribed into exchanging their ordered liberty under the Constitution of the United States for the "more abundant life," "planned economy" and regimentation of Franklin D. Roosevelt and of the motley crew of socialists, parlor pinks and silly sentimentalists with whom he has surrounded himself. Such gatherings as this encourage me to hope that at last the American people have come to realize that our form of government is in peril at the hands of him who only three years ago took a solemn oath to support and defend it. If there are any of you so gullible as to still believe that the President and his advisers have, or ever have had, any real attachment for our form of government, or any intention or desire to faithfully observe the limitations which the Federal Constitution has set upon their powers, I ask you to review with me their record for the past three years. when Mr. Roosevelt, as President, took the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, he could look back upon nearly one hundred and fifty years of National existence under that instrument. He is a lawyer, and we have the right to assume that he was thoroughly familiar with its provisions and with the interpretation and meaning given to those provisions by the Supreme Court of the United States. He knew that the purpose of that instrument was not to record a grant of rights and privileges to its citizens by the National Govern- ment, but that on the contrary its purpose was to create a new National Government, and to specifically record the powers conferred upon that government by its creators the people of the United States. He knew, by the terms of the instrument itself and from an unbroken line of opinions of the Supreme Court, that the only powers possessed by the National Government are those expressly or impliedly conferred upon it by that Constitution. He knew that the Constitution was framed and adopted by men who were proudly conscious of the fact that they were citizens of independent sovereign states, and that in creating the National Government, they had no intention of surrendering into the keeping of the new government those inalienable rights which the Declaration of Independence declares are the heritage of all free men; that among these inalienable rights are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the right to labor in lawful occupations of their own choosing, free of governmental interference, and to enjoy the fruits of that labor; to acquire and hold property and to be assured of its protection, not only against spoliation by the Government, but against the avarice and designs of their fellow-men. He KNEW that those who framed the Consti-tution had no intention of destroying their respective state governments, or of surrendering any of the powers of the state governments to the National Government, except to the extent and in the manner set out in the Constitution itself. He knew that there was conferred upon the National Government no power of control over the internal affairs of the state; no power to regulate the farm, the factory, the mill or the mine. He knew that the National Government has no power to take the property of any citizen, or group of citizens, whether under the guise of taxation or through condemnation, for the ben- efit of any other citizen or group of citizens. He knew that the Constitution confers upon the National Government no police power within the respective states, under which Congress may legislate for what it conceives to be the general welfare, it matters not how grave the emergency nor how great the demand for such legislation may be. He also knew that the framers of the Constitution were not content with merely limiting the powers of the National Government. He knew that the history of the past, and of the days in which the framers of the Constitution lived, had taught them that the concentration of all governmental power in the hands of one man, or group of men, is the beginning of tyranny, and that they had therefore deliberately provided in the Constitution for a separation of the three great divisions of governmental power the executive, the legislative and the judicial. He KNEW that the executive and legislative departments are without power to pass upon the validity of their own acts. He knew that the executive department, under the Constitution, is not permitted to legislate, and the legislative department can not confer upon the executive department power so to do. If he had the slightest conception of the purpose and spirit of the Constitution, he knew that the judicial department, headed by the Supreme Court, was intended by the framers of the Constitution to hold the National Government to its delegated powers, with authority, in a proper case, to declare invalid any attempt on the part of either the legislative or executive department to override or disregard the limitations imposed upon them; and he knew that this power had been exercised from the very beginning of the Republic. He knew that, notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution in its original form unmistakably limited the National Government to the exercise of those powers expressly or impliedly 4 enumerated therein, many of the states, of which the great States of New York and South Carolina are outstanding examples, conditioned their ratification upon the express declaration that every governmental power not expressly conferred upon the National Government by the Constitution is reserved to the respective state governments. He knew that the Constitution would never have been adopted but for the clear understanding that the Congress, in the manner provided by the Constitution, would promptly submit to the respective states amendments, expressly excepting from national power those human rights and privileges which are enumerated in the first ten amendments, and that in compliance with this understanding these amendments were submitted by the first Congress that met under the new Constitution, and were promptly adopted. He KNEW that any attempt on the part of the National Government to regulate any business not committed to its control by the Constitution amounts not only to usurpation of power, but to a direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, which protects the citizen against deprivation of his life, liberty or property without due process of law. He must have known when he assumed office that the Ninth and Tenth Amendments express the whole philosophy of the limited government created under the Constitution; that the Ninth declares: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." and that the Tenth declares: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people." He knew that the framers of the Constitution did not intend that the National Government 5 created under it should endure for only a limited time, hut that they believed they were building for the ages, and realized that changing conditions would suggest the necessity and wisdom of changes in the original grant of power. He also knew that those who framed and adopted the Constitution were determined that the people themselves should be the sole judges of the wisdom and necessity of such changes, and to that end they specifically provided in the Constitution that such changes can be made only by the people themselves, in the manner provided by that instrument; and he knew that that method gives neither the President nor Congress, nor the two combined, the power to effect such changes by usurpation, nor the judicial department to do so by a perverted interpretation of its provisions. TO ASSUME that the President did not know and understand all of these things is to assume that he knew nothing of the spirit and genius of our form of government, and took his oath to support and defend it in ignorance of the real meaning of that oath. Yet, in disregard of that oath, he has demanded, and a servile Congress has enacted, during the past three years, law after law violating these fundamental principles of the Federal Constitution. Under the claim of a great National emergency, and at his demand, Congress enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act, which took from the people the constitutional right to control their ordinary every-day affairs, and delivered this power into the keeping of the President, without limitation as to how he should exercise it, and he in turn conferred this power upon underlings, in the selection of whom the voters of this country had no voice whatever, and whose only qualifications in most cases was the fact that for years they had publicly proclaimed either their contempt for, or impatience with, our form of constitutional government. Under that Act the bootblack in the street, the merchant in his store, the clothes presser, the blacksmith at his forge, the factory, the mine, the mill, and every conceivable form of industrial activity, were all brought under the domination of the National Government. To indulge the presumption that the President had no doubts of the constitutionality of this Act is to impugn his intelligence. Every other well-informed citizen in the country was convinced of its unconstitutionality; yet, before the ink was hardly dry on his signature approving the Act, the President, with unseemly haste, promulgated more than five hundred codes, having the force and effect of laws, under which that many businesses were regimented and regulated, to an extent known in no country outside of Russia. Prosecutions and threats of prosecutions, every conceivable form of propaganda and even illegal boycotts, sponsored and organized by Government officials, were resorted to in order to browbeat, intimidate and coerce members of those businesses into meek submission. Those hardy souls who dared to assert their rights in court were met with every imaginable form of petty, technical obstructions, designed to delay and, if possible, prevent a judicial determination of their rights. Those Federal Judges who had an opportunity, as I did, to observe these delay tactics, could reasonably come to no other conclusion than that they were a part of a deliberate conspiracy on the part of those in power to continue their usurpation of power without judicial rebuke as long as possible. I have seen it repeatedly asserted in the press that one of the High Priests of the New Deal advised the Administration that, in view of the doubtful constitutionality of this and other measures constituting the ground work of the New Deal, a judicial determination of their constitutionality should be delayed as long as possible. Whether true or not, I know that is exactly what was done. In its attempt to evade an authoritative judicial determination of the validity of this Act, we were treated to the spectacle of the Department of Justice dismissing in the Supreme Court an appeal taken to that Court by the Department itself, in a case involving the constitutionality of that Act; and then, under the guidance of Mr. Donald Rich-berg, deliberately selecting the Schechter case as the one in which to have the test made, because of his belief that it offered the best chance for a favorable decision. We all know the result. To the consternation of the Administration, the Supreme Court declared the entire Act unconstitutional. A President with a proper respect for the Constitution would have accepted the result; but not Mr. Roosevelt. On the heels of the opinion, in a setting deliberately arranged so as to give the widest publicity to his remarks, the President indulged in an intemperate, bitter denunciation of the Supreme Court for its courageous action in upholding the Constitution against executive and legislative usurpation, and made it plain that, notwithstanding this opinion, he intended to go forward with his program of usurpation of power and violation of private rights. THE Agricultural Adjustment Act was but the application of the principles of the National Industrial Recovery Act to the farming industry of the country. We have aU come to consider the farmers of the Nation as the great repository of the traditional independence and rugged individuality of the typical American citizen. Most farmers are farmers because their roots are deep in the soil. To them it is a way of life as well as a means of livelihood. The very nature of their business fosters independence of thought and courage of action qualities so essential to a perpetuation of free institutions. The Agricultural Adjustment Act, however, was so designed and administered as to destroy these fundamental characteristics of our farming population. The farmer was told by the Secretary of Agriculture how much he should pro- duce, and to induce compliance he offered bounties in the nature of rental and benefit payments, the money for which was obtained by a tax on processors, which, after nearly two years of litigation, has just been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Bankhead Cotton Control Act, the Kerr-Smith Tobacco Control Act and the recent Potato Control Act, under which the growers of cotton, tobacco and potatoes are penalized by a prohibitive tax if they refuse to bow to the judgment of the Secretary of Agriculture as to the amount of these crops they shall produce, are but the legitimate offspring of the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act. I think I but utter the judgment of every lawyer and every layman who has ever read the Constitution when I state that when these measures finally come before the Supreme Court, as they surely will, in spite of the opposition of the executive department of the Government, they will go the way of the N.R.A. and the A.A.A., because they each invade a field clearly denied to the National Government. I would not want what I say on farm legislation to he interpreted as displaying a lack of sympathy with the problems of farmers. My ancestors were farmers, and all of my living kin, with but few exceptions, foUow that occupation. I myself own, live on and cultivate a farm, without Government help. Farmers, in common with the rest of our people, have suffered much during this depression; but any expedient to restore prosperity to the farms at the price of the independence of their owners comes at too great a cost. If efforts to solve the farming problem are directed toward actually solving it, instead of toward building up a gigantic bureaucracy, manned by politicians, I believe a solution can be found within eonstitutional limits, and without destroying the independence and self-respect of this most important element of our citizenship. NOT content with minding the business of its citizens under the National Industrial Recovery Act, the business of the farmers under the Agricultural Adjustment Act and related legislation, and in imposing unconstitutional taxation on part of the people to bring greater profits to other parts of the people, this Administration, under legislative enactments passed at the behest of the President, has gone into competition with private business to an extent never before practiced by the government of any free people, and, in my judgment, wholly unjustified under the Constitution. When the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the other equally revolutionary legislation, were enacted in the first half of the term of the present Administration, we were told by the President and those under him, and the laws themselves so proclaimed, that the legislation was intended only for the period of the emergency; but just as soon as the Federal bureaucrats tasted the sweets of place and power, all pose that these regulations were intended to be temporary in character was abandoned. The Administration and its spokesmen then boldly proclaimed that they were intended to be a permanent part of our social system; and the opinion of the Supreme Court in the Schechter case, and the other record-making decisions rendered about the same time, holding that this program has no place under our form of government, has not deterred the President in the slightest from driving ahead with his unconstitutional and un-American schemes. THE last session of Congress marked a departure from the time-honored and constitutional practice of the Executive recommending legislation to Congress. For the first time in the history of the Nation, Congress was told by the President what legislation it must pass; and that body, servilely submitting to the executive lash, and pandering to his power of patronage and 10 control of five billion dollars of public funds, enacted the Wagner Labor Bill, the Social Security Bill, the Utilities Control Bill and the Guffey Coal Bill, each of which involves the invasion of a field of legislation which the Supreme Court time and again has declared beyond the reach of Congress, and each of which is designed to give the National Government a firmer grip upon every business in this country. No good purpose can be served by an extended discussion of these bills before this assemblage. It is sufficient to say, however, that in no unmistakable way they indicate a determination on the part of the President and his advisers, in spite of the Supreme Court and in contempt of the Constitution, to move forward ruthlessly in their determination to project the National Government into every conceivable activity of its citizens. If carried to a successful conclusion, the plan inevitably means a destruction of the reserved powers of the states and of the people, and the erection of a super-government at Washington, authorized to deal with every matter which a majority of Congress, or its master, may conceive to be for the general welfare. This, of course, means the destruction of the power of the several states to shape their internal policies according to their own peculiar local needs. It means a complete revolution in the constitutional conception of the relation of the National Government to the states and to their citizens. Such a revolution would be terrible enough to contemplate if brought about in an orderly way through amendment to the Constitution; but when attempted to be accomplished through usurpation, it is unthinkable, and amounts to nothing less than a betrayal of our country and its institutions. We are not left to read the deliberate purpose of the President and his advisers to change our form of government in the laws which he has sponsored and forced through Congress. That purpose can be traced as well in the public 11 speeches and statements of the President and his closest advisers. Who can read the recent speeches of the President, or the outgivings of Tugwell, of Ickes, Wallace and Richberg, without being convinced that they dream of and plan an autocracy at Washington, with every right of the citizen subject to the will of those who sit in the seats of the mighty? The President and his advisers, however, have realized from the beginning that the one great obstacle to the accomplishment of their purposes is the Supreme Court of the United States. Do not all of you recall in the early part of the Administration, when murmurings were heard against the unconstitutional legislation being driven through Congress and ruthlessly enforced, that statements were frequently made that the Supreme Court would not dare to undo what these tribunes of the people had decreed; that if it should attempt to do so, its membership would be increased and new judges appointed, holding the same peculiar views of National power as those held by the President? Did not his advisers and supporters then, as now, advance all kinds of fantastic schemes to deprive the Supreme Court of its constitutional power and duty to determine the constitutionality of the acts of the other two coordinate branches of the Federal Government? Are not they now openly advocating the enactment of such legislation as will make it impossible for any citizen to bring before the Supreme Court the question of the constitutionality of their acts? Is not such a purpose implicit in the statement of the President in his very recent remarkable report to Congress on the state of the Union, in which he declared: "The carrying out of the laws of the land as enacted by the Congress requires protection until final adjudication by the highest tribunal of the land. The Congress has the right and can find the means to protect its own prerogatives." What can this language mean except that the President desires to see enacted a law which 12 will deny to the citizens of the United States prompt access to the courts for the purpose of securing protection against laws cynically passed, without regard to their constitutionality, as was done under his urging in the case of the Guffey Coal Bill? If the President did not mean this, what did he mean? The American people who entrusted him with power are entitled to an explanation. If he and his advisers sincerely believe that the public welfare demands the enactment of such legislation as he advocates; if they believe there is any real demand on the part of the American people for such legislation, why do they hesitate to put the question up to the people in the manner provided by the Constitution, through the submission of a constitutional amendment, clearly and unequivocally conferring upon the National Government the powers they have attempted to exercise, but which the Supreme Court has declared are prohibited by the present Constitution? Of course, the answer is obvious. They know if such an amendment were proposed, it would not receive the approval of the people of a single state of the Union. They know that the people of the respective states will never deliberately consent to any such fundamental change in the relation of the Federal Government to the States and to the people. No patriotic American should object to the submission of such an amendment. I, for one, would welcome it, because I feel as certain as the night follows the day that it would end for all time the agitation which the President and his followers have stirred up. If, however, there are any of you who fear the result of such an issue, calm your fears it will not be presented. Usurpation and perversion of the Constitution by judicial construction is the plan of the present Administration not orderly amendment and it is this fact which makes the coming election, in my judgment, the most momentous in the history of the Republic. Does any man or woman within the sound of my voice 13 doubt that the President hopes, if re-elected, he will have the opportunity within the next four years to place upon the Supreme Court enough judges holding his own constitutional views to change the whole current of constitutional construction in this country? Do any of you doubt that if such an opportunity is presented, that is exactly what he will do? T HE issue in the coming election, therefore, is clear. That issue is not whether the Constitution shall be amended, but whether it shall he destroyed. That issue must be met, and the outcome will determine if we are to continue to enjoy a government of laws and not of men, or shall have foisted upon us an Americanized copy of Old World Dictatorship. It transcends all partisan lines. While I am a Republican and many of you are Democrats, there must be no division among us on this fundamental issue. The National Administration will have at its command in the coming election billions of public funds and the greatest political machine in the history of the nation. An army of more than 700,000 Federal employees will constitute the shock troops which Mr. Farley will throw into the coming struggle. We shall see a repetition in this campaign on a National scale of what took place in Maine, Michigan and Pennsylvania in recent elections. Public funds will be used not only to influence individuals but whole communities through the location of so-called public works projects. With every art known to the demagogue, the avarice of the unsuccessful and the unfortunate will be appealed to through the advocacy of impractical and extravagant and unconstitutional schemes to take from those who have and bestow upon those who have not. Already the effort to arouse class hatreds and antagonisms has commenced and it will he intensified as the campaign progresses. It will take the combined courage and resourcefulness of a united opposition to overcome the entrenched New Deal, hut it can and must be done. 14 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 The Bonus Inflation The Thirty Hour Week Bill The Holding Company Bill Price Control The TV A Amendments The Supreme Court and the New Deal The President's Tax Program Expanding Bureaucracy Lawmaking by Executive Order New Deal Laws in Federal Courts Consumers and the AAA Dangerous Experimentation Economic Planning Mistaken But Not New Work Relief The AAA and Our Form of Government Alternatives to the American Form of Government A Program for Congress The 1937 Budget Professors and the New Deal The President Wants More Power The National Lahor Relations Act Summary of Conclusions from report of the National Lawyers Committee Straws Which Tell How to Meet the Issue Speech by W. E. Borah "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 Our Growing National Debt and Inflation Speech by Dr. E. W. Kemmerer Inflation is Bad Business Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers Arousing Class Prejudices Speech by Jouett Shouse The Fallacies and Dangers of the Townsend Plan Speech by Dr. W. E. Spahr What of 1936? Speech by James P. Warburg Americanism at the Crossroads Speech by R. E. Desvernine The Constitution and the New Deal Speech by James M. Carson The American Constitution Whose Heritage? Speech by Frederick H. Stinchfield The American Form of Government Let Us Preserve It Speech by Albert C. Ritchie The Redistribution of Power Speech by John W. Davis Time to Stop Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers â˜… AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C.