Archive for September 16th, 2010

The New Deal and the Constitution

September 16, 2010

For Constitution Day – – –

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 — Today being Constitution day, it is natural that the articles and clauses of the historic charter by which America is governed should, in the light of recent events, undergo scrutiny by those who cherish its great usefulness to our social and economic life.

Unfortunately, the discussion has become partisan. Republican speakers have emphasized the acts of the New Deal as in violation of the constitution. This gives disinterested criticism an atmosphere of political combat, when, as a matter of fact, judicial questions should not become in any way involved in politics.

But the occasion for inquiry as to the origin of the powers being exercised by the President nowadays is not the less important because it has regrettably, tho inevitably, become a part of the political scene. Several queries project themselves today. Where, for example, is there a “breathing spell” clause in the constitution?

Just a few days ago, the chief executive announced to the country that his “legislative program” had reached “substantial completion.” Business men, glad of any promise of a let-up in the era of encroachment by government upon private rights, looked upon this assurance with mixed feelings. They welcomed the promise of a “breathing spell.”

But quite generally overlooked was the fact that so changed has become the exercise of executive and legislative power in the United States under the Roosevelt administration that, because the executive and legislative branches have become, for all practical purposes, consolidated into one, it is from the White House that the announcement of the “substantial completion” of a legislative program comes nowadays.

When Mr. Roosevelt speaks of “substantial completion,” he implies, of course, that he will not ask for further powers from congress. But, it will be asked, what further powers can the chief executive possibly need? Not many. The President, by abdication of the legislative body, called congress, already has the following powers today that have been delegated to him:

1. More than $4,800,000,000 has been appropriated for the use of the executive in his own discretion. Congress surrendered its privilege of specifying the uses to which the money should be put, as has been customary for more than 145 years.

2. The President has the power to order farmers to plant only those quantities of wheat, cotton, corn, potatoes and other crops that he sees fit, and to punish those who disobey his decrees.

3. The President can appoint the members of a board responsible only to him and such board is to regulate the hours of work, rates of wages, quantity of output and other conditions for the conduct of coal mining and distribution.

4. The President has the power to appoint a board, responsible to him, which shall determine employer and employe relations in all businesses and industries “affecting interstate commerce.”

5. The President, thru a federal communications commission, controls the radio and other forms of communication.

6. The President, thru the securities commission, controls the electric power and light and gas industries and may order his commissioners to eliminate or retain such corporations as he and his associates in their discretion thing are “necessary” or “economically integrated.”

7. The President, thru the federal reserve board, whose members he appoints, can control the flow of credit and its operations thruout the country.

8. The President may proclaim changes in the tariff within certain upper and lower schedules.

9. The President, thru a federal coordinator, controls the operations of the railroads of the United States.
10. The President, thru a commission of his own choosing, controls the uses of capital in industry. The commission approves or disapproves registration statements at will, and, without these licenses, new capital cannot be obtained by industry.

There are, of course, many other delegations of power. Some of those mentioned above are plainly unconstitutional in themselves; that is to say, even the congress does not possess the powers it has tried to delegate to another branch of the government. But nowhere in the constitution is there any clause permitting congress to delegate its lawful powers to the executive.

The supreme court has held that, where the congress turns over to an executive bureau or commission the task of administering a law, the instructions must be so explicitly worded that citizens may clearly know the limits. But where congress delegates to a bureau or executive commission the job of carrying into effect a legislative “objective,” this is too vague, according to the supreme court.

The making by bureaus of so-called “regulations” which have the effect and force of law is really a delegation of the legislative or law-making power itself, and is, therefore, a violation of the constitution.

The supreme court has upheld delegation of power for revision of a tariff, but has insisted that this is merely a matter of calculation of a rate within the limits of a formula mathematically set by congress itself. The court has recognized that administrative bodies must have certain discretion to enforce laws, but has nevertheless maintained that there is a difference between efficient administration and usurping the powers of legislation itself.

Thus, the code-making bodies of the NRA had such wide discretion that they issued rules the violation of which was a crime, just as if congress itself had passed a law to that effect.

It may be asked, what is the difference between government by commission today and the same thing as practiced under preceding administrations? The truth is encroachment on the power of the legislative by means of the governmental commission on a limited scale actually started under Republican administrations and now has reached its climax under the Democrats. Also, in the old days, congress was insistent that each commission should be bi-partisan; that is, it should represent opposite political beliefs.

But Mr. Roosevelt, by his appointments, gets around the basic purpose of the majority and minority viewpoint idea by finding persons previously affiliated with the opposite political party but sharing at the moment his economic and social philosophy.

Thus, practically every federal commission today is dominated by appointees of Mr. Roosevelt who are partisans of his own philosophy and trends toward state socialism or the centralization of power in the federal government. In this way, the congress, having abdicated its powers to the executive, has, in effect, turned over to a small group of men, directed and controlled by the President himself, vast and almost unlimited powers of expenditure of public funds and administration over the affairs of industry and agriculture from production to distribution.

On this Constitution day, even the New Dealers themselves might reflect on the Manner in which, some day, these same powers may be utilized for another purpose, perhaps not so beneficent, when the “wicked Republicans” or a President of dictatorial inclination belonging to another political party happens to get into the White House.

(Copyright, 1935)

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Sep 17, 1935

The U.S. Constitution: Wet or Dry

September 16, 2010


Bill Requiring Wisconsin Pupils To Be Taught Document Is Voted Down in House.

By Universal Service.

MADISON, Wis., May 7. — Enforced teaching of the United States Constitution in public schools of Wisconsin is “verboten,” the Lower House of the Legislature decided Monday.

Assemblyman A.E. Matheson, dry leader, introduced a bill requiring teachers to explain the Federal Constitution to students.

Assemblyman Herman Sachtjen, wet leader, objected.

“There are wet and dry interpretations of the Constitution that might lead to controversies between teachers and pupils,” he said.

The bill was voted down.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) May 8, 1923


The Massachusetts W.C.T.U. has entered the schools of that fair state with Mother Goose rhymes designed to acquaint the children with the desirability of prohibition.

Assuming that it is the purpose and desire of our educators to give youth both sides of all controversial subjects, we offer the other side of prohibition through the same medium.


“Purple clusters from the vine;
Pluck and eat them, they are fine.
Press the juice if you incline,
Into glasses, yours and mine.
If we drink it when we should,
While it’s fresh and sweet and good
Health and strength and joy combine
In the juice but not in wine.”

We propose:

Though ripened by the bright sunshine,
And nipped by frost while on the vine,
To luscious grapes we don’t incline
Unless they’re turned to sparkling wine.

The Massachusetts schools can take it for what it’s worth. They’re perfectly welcome. No charge.

— The Manitowoc Times.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Nov 4, 1930

Constitution Day

TODAY will be observed more or less and probably chiefly less throughout the nation as Constitution Day. It is the anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution, which took place September 17, 1787, the government under the constitution being declared in effect the first Wednesday of March 1789.

Constitution Day was inaugurated in 1917 through efforts of the national society of the Sons of the American Revolution. That organization declares that the annual observance has

“produced a better understanding of the Constitution as the anchor and guide of the people, created a deeper individual consecration in its safeguarding, the enactment of laws by a number of states providing for the teaching of the Constitution as a part of the curriculum in the public schools and the participation by innumerable organizations in this annual patriotic remembrance.”

Purpose of Constitution Day is laudable. More than ever it is essential at a time when regard for law and our institutions — which after all is regard for the Constitution upon which our laws and our institutions are founded — is at a low ebb.

The Eighteenth amendment is not the only amendment to the Constitution which has caused turmoil and unrest and dissatisfaction. But the Eighteenth amendment, in the circumstances of its adoption, in the turmoil of its enforcement and in the nature of attacks designed to bring about alteration or repeal have created a situation which rapidly is becoming unbearable in its incessant sapping at the foundation of our national authority.

The Constitution should be taught in the public schools. It should be given more attention there than it is today. It is well that Constitution Day be set aside each year for various forms of observance — notably in the public schools for respect, loyalty and regard taught in the adolescent years carries its influence through adulthood.

Schools of Constitutional Study should be inaugurated for many otherwise fair minded, intelligent and educated citizens and leaders who seek to nullify a Constitutional amendment by denying its observance or to seek change through means not provided by basic law or to attempt to influence great numbers of people toward both a fallacious idea as to Constitutional facts and legal means of amendatory enactment or repeal.

Morning Herald (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) Sep 17, 1930

Our Answer To The Government

The editor of The Sheboygan Press received a letter from the Bureau of Prohibition, Department of Justice, accompanied by a questionnaire listed as confidential.
Our position is not confidential and for that reason we are herewith printing the entire questionnaire as it was answered and sent out by the editor.

1. Is your paper in favor of prohibition? No.

2. Is your paper against prohibition? Yes.

3. Is your paper neutral on the subject of prohibition? No.

4. Will you state briefly your reason for adopting the policy you are advocating?

We have consistently opposed prohibition for the following reasons:

First: Because it sets up a form of government contrary to the ideas and customs of the American people. It attempts by force that which we resented when this nation was born.

Second: It is an attempt to regulate the habits of our people by law, which always fails.

Third: Attempts at enforcement have produced evils and abuses, including disrespect for law, corruption of public officials, abuse of legal process; and violations of other constitutional rights of our people, such as immunity from double jeopardy and illegal search and seizure.

Fourth: Enforcement of the Eighteenth amendment violates the underlying spirit of our whole constitution.

Fifth: Prohibition has failed because it has substituted for a legal and lawful sale and distribution of intoxicating beverages an unlawful and illicit manufacture, sale and distribution, which is now beyond the power of government to control.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Oct 18, 1930

Progressive Economics: Dealt from a Pack Thumbed by Kings, Despots and Tyrants

September 16, 2010

1934 or 2010?


Former Head of Treasury Makes Sharp Attack in Constitution Day Address Before Women.

NEW YORK, Sept. 17. — (UP) — The New Deal’s economic planning, though labeled progressive, actually is reversion to a system discarded in 1787 — “an old, old deal dealt from a pack thumbed by the fingers of countless kings, despots and tyrants” — Ogden Mills, former secretary of the treasury, said today.

In a Constitution Day address before the Women’s National Republican club, Mills said planned economy means the end of economic liberalism and calls for an authoritarian government, of which the dictatorships of Italy, Germany and Russia are the supreme expression.

The United States Constitution, Mills said, got its authority from the people themselves and set up certain limitations designed “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity.”

“During the last year and a half under the guise of emergency legislation, practically all of these limitations have been broken down or ignored,” Mills said.

“As a result, the federal government is no longer one of limited powers, but has almost unlimited authority over the life of the individual citizens. Today the federal government in effect tells the wage earner what he may earn and how long he may work; the farmer what and how much he may produce on his own farm; the merchant at what price he may sell his goods; the manufacturer what addition he may make to his plant and how much he may produce; the well owner how much oil he may flow.

“It controls the flow of capital and savings. It has entered into business in competition with its citizens.

“Nowhere in the constitution are these immense powers even suggested.”

New government codes have obliterated state lines and the states themselves have “abjectly surrendered their sovereignty,” Mills said. Congress has passed laws which did little more than express a pious wish “leaving it to the president to fill in the blank spaces as he sees fit,” he added.

“We are sacrificing our birthright without even getting the mess of pottage,” Mills declared. “Planned economy is not working in this country any more than it has worked anywhere.

“The clumsy hands of government — the right frequently not knowing what the left is doing — are halting the existing mechanism and throttling the normal forces that should be working for recovery.

“To move ahead, there must be a sense of direction. This country is being reformed in every direction. It isn’t moving in any. Nature has made a grim mockery of the agricultural policy. Industrial production is proceeding at a lower rate than a year ago, and not much above what it was in September, 1933. Instead of re-employment the number of those on the stupendous relief roll grows steadily day by day.”

The Vidette Messenger (Valparaiso, Indiana) Sep 1, 1934