Posts Tagged ‘Political Opinion’

Constitution Critics Show Ignorance

December 13, 2011

Constitution Critics Show Ignorance

By James T. Williams, Jr.

UNDER the leadership of the Representative in Congress from the Twentieth New York Congressional District — Mr. Marcantonio — of New York City, who calls himself a Republican, a demand has been issued for the call of a constitutional convention to make over the Constitution of the United States.

Image of LaGuardia and Marcantonio from Spartacus Educational

Mr. Marcantonio, who rattles around in the Congressional shoes formerly worn by the present Mayor of New York City, Mr. LaGuardia, is serving his first term in Congress. Uniting with him in this demand are Congressmen Schneider and Amlie of Wisconsin and Lundeen of Minnesota. The first two call themselves Progressives and the third is a member of the Farmer-Labor party.

These national legislators evidently think very poorly, both of the Constitution and of the Supreme Court of the United States. They attack the latter in this contemptuous language:

In no uncertain terms it (the Supreme Court) has served notice on Congress that the Constitution is not a flexible document to be interpreted liberally and in the light of present-day conditions, but rather an instrument that must be interpreted with relation to the time, conditions, and ox-cart economy of the days when it was written.

This is not a quotation from any decision of the Supreme Court. It cannot be found in any such decision. It is merely an assertion by a group of politicians who are evidently more concerned with misleading the public than they are with telling the truth.

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THE Supreme Court took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States as written. It did not take an oath to support the Constitution only in so far as its provisions are approved by Mr. Marcantonio and other political sappers who are dissatisfied with the Constitution as written and seek to supplant it with a new one.

“The Great Tribunal” in a decision handed down in 1905 said in the words of Mr. Justice Brewer:

The Constitution is a written instrument. As such its meaning does not alter. That which is meant when adopted it means now. Being a grant of power to a government, its language is general, and as changes come in social and political life it embraces in its grasp all new conditions which are within the scope of the powers in terms conferred  .  .  .  It must also be remembered that the framers of the Constitutions were not mere visionaries, toying with speculations or theories but practical men, dealing with the facts of political life as they understood them, putting into form the government they were creating, and prescribing in language clear and intelligible the powers that government was to take.

This is the Constitution which the Supreme Court, under its solemn oath, undertakes to interpret.

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ILL-INFORMED politicians sometimes make the mistake of saying that the only difference between the American and British constitutions is that the former is a written document and the latter an unwritten body of law. Their error in this regard, is clearly set forth by Mr. Charles Warren in a book on “Congress, the Constitution and the Supreme Court,” [google preview only] which all political sappers in Congress seeking to undermine the Government of the Constitution would do well to read.

Mr. Warren declares that the real difference between the American and British constitutions is that “the American Constitution (the Constitution of the United States and the Constitutions of the several States) are unalterable and unamendable by a majority of the Legislature itself.”

Mr. Marcantonio is within his rights when he advocates the calling of a Constitutional convention to make over the Constitution of the United States. But when he attacks the Supreme Court, or its refusal to make over the Constitution, he either advertises his abysmal ignorance of the American System of Government or his complete contempt for that system.

Making over the Constitution in not the duty of the Supreme Court. That is the exclusive privilege of the American people. And Mr. Marcantonio insults their intelligence if he pretends otherwise.

Rochester Evening Journal (Rochester, New York) Jun 18, 1935

By the Bullet and the Bowl

October 12, 2011

“By the Bullet and the Bowl.”
From the New York Tribune.

In 1840 the Whig party elected Wm. H. Harrison President. He was inaugurated in 1841, March 4th. One month afterward he died, and his office fell to John Tyler.

How “Tyler too” carried out the principles under which he was chosen, the world too well remembers. He added a new and disgraceful verb to the language — to Tylerize has ever since been synonymous with partisan treachery.

In 1844, through the efforts of the Birney Abolitionists, Henry Clay was defeated — Polk elected, with Dallas for his Vice; Texas was annexed, the area of slavery was extended by nearly 300,000 square miles, and all was lovely.

In 1848, Zachary Taylor, a moderate Whig, and Millard Fillmore, not much of anything, were chosen President and Vice. Taylor did not suit the Southern drivers; he had a stupid way of acting honestly and straightforward — and so, within a brief period, he fell under the malarious vapors of Washington, and died, Fillmore succeeding, and duly Tylerized.

Next we had the Herald’s “poor Pierce,” who has not, to this day ceased from expressing his boundless servility to the slave whips of his southern masters. He was “sound” and served out his term in peace — the water was good.

In 1856, Mr. Buchanan, fully as sound as Pierce, was raised to the Executive chair, and under his administration — as in that of his predecessor — Washington was free from malaria — that is, Democrats; but when the new Republican party began to gain strength, and it was possible that they might become the ruling power of Congress, the water of Washington suddenly grew dangerous, the hotels (particularly the National) became pest houses, and dozens of heretics from the Democratic faith grew sick almost unto death. This singular phenomenon re-appeared from time to time until the great outbreak after the election of Lincoln. Then the wells and springs of the capital came into the care of loyal soldiers, and the water persistently remained healthy. This continued, in spite of the prayers of the faithless, for four years; there was not a “sick” congressman after Davis and his followers left.

But when the struggle of 1864 was over, and the water of the capital flowed clearly, there came a change in the tactics of the poisoners; a single bullet sufficed to restore their hopes. Abraham Lincoln passed away; Andrew Johnson supervened, and — like every other President elevated to the main office, from Aaron Burr to himself — he too, Tylerized, swallowed himself with the dexterity of an East India juggler, and came out from his contortions the branded property of Howell Cobb and his crowd of unregenerated rebels. Urged by the sentiment of a betrayed people, the House of Representatives recently put the recreant Executive on trial.

The trial was over, the hour for voting approached, when we had a return of that bad water, and two or three senators — Republicans, mind you — are prostrated with sudden illness.

What does it mean?

Why does it happen that whenever the current sets against the monster demon of slavery (and never at any other time) we find the air, water, and the whisky of Washington full of poison?

Why does it happen that when some great deed for freedom is on the point of accomplishment (and never on any other occasion), we find Presidents, previously in rugged health, instantaneously sent to their graves, and traitors always on hand to take their places?

Why is it now, just as we should have the vote upon the great question of impeachment, and when — up to the latest moment — it had been universally believed that Johnson would be convicted, why, we ask, do we hear at this critical moment of the dangerous illness of some of the most firm and conspicuous advocates of impeachment?

Is there any thing of chances that can explain these remarkable Ku-klux coincidences?

Alton Daily Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) Jun 3, 1868