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vations through or within the States, to protect forts, arsenals, custom-houses, post-offices, but not to protect private property or the property of corporations. The government of the United States cannot run railroads or steamboats engaged in ordinary traffic. The government may select post-roads, but, if railroad routes, it cannot constitutionally order United States troops to protect trains belonging to corporations, but must hold the corporations carrying the mails responsible for non-delivery during strikes originating in quarrels between employees and employers. To do otherwise is to attack the fundamental principles of the society of sovereign States.
What about troops to sustain “inter-State commerce" ?
The government of the United States has nothing to do with private traffic. That is the business of the several States. It is the duty of the government of the United States to send forward the mails and troops to their reservations, and it is the duty of the States to see that the mails and troops go through the several States without hindrance or molestation. No act of Congress, no pretence whatever, can set aside the plain language of the Constitution as to the rights of Governors and legislatures in case of “ domestic violence.”
The government of the United States has contracted with owners of elevated, cable, and electric corporations in New York, and other cities, to affix to their cars postal departments, dominated by receiving, assorting, and distributing clerks, on their entire routes. In time this contract will give new employment to United States troops. The satrapy of the ancient days may find a parallel in our era. The history of the Roman Pretorian Band and the Swiss Guards of the Bourbons may be repeated here. Ours is virgin soil for usurpations.
United States troops protecting the mail service is one thing, but protecting property of a chartered State corporation is quite another. Corporations, when they bring danger upon themselves, and trouble and impecuniosity to their employees, will not scruple to make every car a mail-car, and thus cause citizens to be shot for presumed interference with postal matters and also with inter-State commerce.
Is the opinion of Justice Brewer Law ?
In the Debs habeas corpus case a full bench of justices decided that he was in contempt of the Circuit Court, sitting at Chicago during the labor difficulties, in not obeying an injunction of Judge Wood, presiding, and therefore not entitled to the benefit of the liberty-giving writ. Justice Brewer delivered for the court a decision so remarkable that it may be reversed in the future. It declares that the United States have the right to intervene without regard to the reserved powers of a State and of State laws, and to set aside all obstacles to the transportation of the mails and the conduct of inter-State commerce.
The hundred arms of Briareus were as nothing to the tentacles of the general government. True, said Justice Brewer, the government is one of enumerated powers, but behind every enumeration is absolute sovereignty. It can reach the citizen anywhere, and in the exercise of that sovereignty the intermediate agency of the State must be disregarded. The “national government can use its authority to call out the army and the militia in every quarter to sustain the Washington rulers.” The one conclusive answer to the Brewer opinion is : Delegated power is not sovereign power.
The threat of an august tribunal to use force is not republican save when war darkens the land. “ John Marshall has made his decision,” said President Jackson ; “ now let him execute it !” It requires the executive department to do that. The people of the States will always be slow to enforce an opinion which is unconstitutional. And the opinion of Justice Brewer is not constitutional, and will not obtain. Hamilton himself would not advocate such centralization. It is of a piece with the reported centralizing language of a late Attorney-General when he filed in the Supreme Court his petition for a rehearing of the Income Tax decision: “ The United States respectfully represents," instead of represent ; "the United States was expected to rely for its customary revenues upon duties, imposts, and excises," instead of were ; and “it [the United States] ought to refund,” etc.
What of the future of United States troops ? When all the Territories are States, this arm of force, borrowed from Europe, should cease. There should always be a navy, but not a regular army.
How often is “the Union” and “this Union” mentioned ?
“ The Union,” twice. “This Union, " three times. The foregoing quoted words are definitions of the purpose of the framers of the Constitution. The States united or formed into “ this Union” of sovereigns shall guarantee to every sovereign member of “the Union ” what ? A “republican form of government.” Mr. Randolph's “national government” and Hamilton's monarchical ideas were carefully avoided.
How can the Constitution be amended ?
Two-thirds of both houses of Congress can propose amendments, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, Congress shall call a convention for proposing amendments. Such amendments must be ratified between three-fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress. States amend, not individuals; and for that reason Rhode Island, Delaware, and Nevada are equal to the more populous States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio in the ratification or non-ratification of a proposed amendment. Men vote as corporators; States vote as sovereign and perpetually living corporations. States severally count the votes of men; the United States count the votes of the several States.
Why three-fourths of the States ?
Because three-fourths are a working quorum of the United States. Ratification is an act of State legislation. It is the highest exercise of supervising sovereignty.