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tive rate, to confine it to those imports of which labor forms the larger part of the value, and to exempt from duties those raw materials for manufacturing which we do not produce.
The system is liable to great abuse. If the correct theory should be adopted, the utmost vigilance would be needed to guard against abuse in its application.
It would be fortunate if the whole matter could be withdrawn from Congress, and committed to a tribunal as impartial and able as the Supreme Court of the United States, with power to alter and modify the tariff, as the evidence submitted by the government and every party interested might require.
Closely connected with the tariff is the question of federal taxation. The states resort to direct taxation, the nation to indirect. In the states property is made the subject of taxation ; the theory being that every one should be taxed in proportion to the amount of his property. In the nation every one pays a tax in proportion to the amount of his ultimate consumption of dutiable articles. Unless care is taken in laying the imposts, the man who has the most children pays the most tax. The tariff therefore ought to be as light as possible upon the food and clothing and other necessaries of the poor man, and more onerous upon the articles which the wealthy consume. In this way the national tax may be levied in great part upon those who ought to pay it. In a republic where universal suffrage has so great power, and may if exasperated make reprisals and repay in vengeance, it is folly for wealth to seek to escape from its just contribution to the support of the government even if it has the power.
We may fairly hope that benceforth our history will prove to be monotonous. We have reached the era of great commercial and industrial enterprises. Whether we have one President or another, one party in power or another, is of little moment so long as our Constitution is paramount and wise laws prevail. Let us hope that the record will be that of a people advancing in that civilization which inspires men to treat one another fairly, and to help one another in all reasonable ways.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE SUPREME COURT UPON OUR CON.
STITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH.
It is impossible to comprehend the development and growth of our constitutional system without taking into consideration the position and influence of the Supreme Court of the United States. This body is the final expounder of the Constitution in all cases which can be presented in the form of a suit at law. The expounders of the Constitution hold an office under it of little less importance than that of its framers. The framers discharged their office and rested from their labors. The expounders are constant in their office and are seldom at rest. Judges die, but the Court is immortal. The Constitution speaks as of the age in which it was written, more than a century ago. The Court expounds it in the language of its own age, holding fast to the old words and powers, but expanding them to keep pace with the expansion of our country, our people, our enterprises, industries, and civilization, Great controversies arise over questions and conditions impossible for the framers of the Constitution to have anticipated. Wbat would they have thought, if one had asked them the question whether a state law regulating the transmission or taxation of telegraphic messages between Kansas and Nevada would be unconstitutional, because encroaching upon the power of Congress to regulate commerce among the states ? Plainly, a constitution made a century ago might well be expected to prove inadequate to the wants of the ever increasing population of the United States. That such is not the case is remarkable evidence of its wisdom, and also of the wisdom of its exposition. It will be instructive to glance, even hastily and imperfectly, at the history of the Court, and its function and influence in shaping our constitutional development and growth.
THE SUPREME COURT.
In the beginning, the judicial was apparently the least important of the three departments of the government, and in the opinion of many has always remained so. But the Court has made our dual system of government possible, and in the end harmonious and valuable. It was inevitable when the functions of sovereignty were parcelled between two jurisdictions, and, in so far as they were reserved to the people, denied to either jurisdiction, that controversies and jealousies would arise ; that there would be conflicting interpretations of the Constitution, rival partisans of national and state supremacy, encroachments by one jurisdiction upon the other, and sometimes open and undisguised contempt of rightful authority.
The framers of the Constitution would have been justly subject to the reproach of devising a system fraught with the causes of its own destruction, if they had not also devised a tribunal to settle the contentions which the system was sure to generate.
The Judiciary Department was intended to furnish such a tribunal. In the beginning, its opportunity and influence were slight; its place in the government feeble and inconsequent. Darkness and uncertainty enveloped its powers and jurisdiction, invited challenge, and promoted hesitancy. The Court had to await its opportunity, and then to ascertain its jurisdiction and the scope of its powers. The problem was whether it would ascertain aright; whether it would clearly see, and clearly define, and clearly and rightly use its It had not only to wait for the opportunity to develop and assert its own power and jurisdiction, but also to wait for the recognition of them by the people. It was overshadowed in the early years of the government by the immediate, active, and dominant influence of the other departments. It gave, during many years, but feeble promise of its ultimate influence in shaping our constitutional growth. But it is plain now that we are largely indebted to the Court for our continued existence as a nation, and for the harmony, stability, excellence, and success of our federal system.
It is true that it has not had the command of armies and navies, it has not had the power of the purse ; it could not
make laws or repeal them. As has been well said: “It is a power which has no guards, palaces, or treasuries, no arms but truth and wisdom, and no splendor but its justice and the publicity of its judgments.” The supremacy of the Court is the result of a natural growth, of a constant accumulation of influence, with little loss and no decay. True constitutional principles, when once correctly ascertained and interpreted, remain forever. We have not only the wisdom and learning of the magistrates who sit in the judgment seat today, but we bave the vast store of the decisions of their predecessors. We are, no less than the Court itself, the heirs of the wisdom embodied in the recorded opinions of those who have gone before. The Court has all the influence due to itself, and all that is due to the wisdom stored up from the beginning. No other department has so rich an inheritance. Decisions and opinions, which, in the day of their delivery, may not bave received the respect due to their merit, in the end are sure to receive it. Truth and wisdom are the more clearly perceived and recognized, after time has dissipated the mists of passion and prejudice which at first obscured them. The affairs of administration and legislation, however imposing and commanding in their day, are often as ephemeral as the day itself. The influence of the Court bides its time; the later generation quietly accepts the wise rule which the prejudice of the earlier repudiated.
The Court is happily constituted. A body of learned, able, and virtuous men are selected for judges. They realize their duties and responsibilities, and rise, if need be, to the occasion. It is their life-work. The traditions and habits of their order become their guides and guards. If they are fit for their place, they have no ambition for other places. They constitute the nation's official reserve of dispassionate wisdom and virtue, for use in seasons of passionate heat and controversy.
The influence of the Court upon the other departments of the government, and upon the nation, states, and people, is usually only indirect, but that fact, strange as it may seem, has rendered its influence more commanding. Its direct power and influence are only exercised upon the persons and
INDIRECT INFLUENCE OF THE SUPREME COURT. 229
property affected by the cases before it. The Court sits to decide cases and controversies between litigants, that is, lawsuits. The Court declares the law for the sole purpose of applying it to the case before it, in order to decide it correctly. Strictly speaking, when the case is decided, nothing more is decided or settled than the suit between the parties to it; as, for example, that the plaintiff can or cannot recover a certain sum of money from the defendant. No parties are before the Court besides the litigants, and no other parties are directly bound by the judgment or decision. Such being the case, it would seem that the decision could have but little influence upon any other persons or matters. This is so with respect to the greater part of the cases and controversies brought before the Court. But we need to look further. The Constitution, Art. 3, sec. 2, declares that the judicial power of the United States “shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made or which shall be made under their authority,” etc. Now, although it may be true that the decision of a case is only the decision of the dispute or contention between the parties, yet in order to decide it, it may be necessary to determine what a certain clause or expression in the Constitution means. If it means what either of the parties contends, that party will probably win his case.
Although the Court only interprets the clause or expression of the Constitution in order to determine which party shall prevail, the interpretation declared by the Court is not made without full examination and deliberation, nor until after argument upon both sides has been heard. These arguments are usually made with all the ability and learning which the private interests at stake can stimulate and command. The interpretation of the Constitution, when thus made by the Court, is probably a true one. When such true interpretation is once made and declared, there is no need of making it otherwise or different in any other case. Indeed, there can rarely be any excuse for unsettling it. The practical result is, and as it inevitably must be among sensible people, that the constitutional interpretation once deliberately made and adjudged by the Court remains adjudged and settled. If any case sub