Across the Path of Popular Impatience

Image from Mission to Learn

VANDENBERG ON CONSTITUTION
(Lansing State Journal)

If one will take a fairly complete history of the United States and therein trace the history of the United States supreme court, from the beginning to the present time, one will find that the decisions of the court, from first to last, have stirred a good deal of political impatience.

Numerous times there has arisen expression of impatience and vexation because the public might not all at once, on impulse, do what it thought it wanted to do. On these occasions, uniformly, there arose a hue and cry against the high court because it applied the agreed rules.

As one glimpses back over the occasions of impatience one will look in vain to find an instance in our history where the results of impatience would have been better than the results of less hurried and more thoughtful procedure. Wherein would we change our past, if we could?

Watch a documentary about Arthur H. Vandenberg at the GVSU website

The other night in Chicago, Senator Vandenberg of this state, was the chief speaker at the observances held the evening of Constitution Day. His chief thesis was that we should venerate the constitution not because it is old, not because it was made by the founding fathers, not because it has been much lauded, but because it is useful, highly useful to us now.

We think that exceedingly well put. It is little wonder that Senator Vandenberg looms large as a guiding figure in the affairs of the nation, these days. He puts leading contention so clearly, so forcefully. The constitution is not a relic of horse and buggy days, it is the guiding and saving principle among us now, was his way of expressing his thought.

The new dealers are of course saying many a time and often these days that they too are for the constitution. Yes, perhaps in the main, though Professor Tugwell does not appear to be for retention of any of it. But how about the vast impatience that arose a year or two back when the constitution prevented the public from rushing pell mell to a larger extension of federal powers over the nation? In those days the new dealers in congress uniformly always spoke of the supreme court as “those nine old men.” Measures were introduced to nullify their power. Even the president advised that a certain measure be passed even if it were not constitutional.

In those instances, the issue was not the whole constitution. Few wanted to discard it altogether. The issue, the point of impatience, was because the constitution prevented us from rushing all at once to a vast enlargement of federal power. We think the time will come, as it has always come in the past, when pretty much every sound American will be deeply glad that the constitution prevented us from rushing headlong to greater extension of federal power at this time.

The American people can have greater extension of power if they so desire. But if they follow the constitution and respect it the American people will achieve larger application of federal power through calm deliberation and understanding.

The constitution of the United States stands across the path of popular impatience, not of considered popular decision.

This is no long the horse and buggy age but the principle of the wheel on each four corners of a conveyance is still sound.

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Sep 23, 1936

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