Will Maupin's weekly. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1911-1912, June 02, 1911, Image 12

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Courts Hold Property More Sa
cred Than Life.
Former President Says That Judicial
Decisions Always Favor the Master
Against the Man Do Not Interpret
Law, but Make Law.
Writing in the Outlook on the recent
decision of the New York court of ap
peals declaring unconstitutional the
law passed last year providing a gen
eral scheme for the compensation of
Injured workmen, ex-President Roose
velt says:
"I have received from one of the
most eminent Jurists and one of the
most genuinely conservative and there
fore genuinely progressive men in the
United States a comment on this New
York decision which puts the case so
admirably that I quote it almost in
"It Is a remarkable example of spe
cial pleading, another illustration that
In many American courts property is
more sacred than life. The point in
the decision that 'due process' means
the procedure which was enforced
when the federal constitution was
adopted has been repudiated again and
again by the supreme court of the
United States. The decision is indi
vidualistic. It sees in the enforced
payment simply the taking of the mon
ey of the defendant and giving it to
the plaintiff. The law could have been
sustained as a proper exercise of the
police power upon either of two
grounds first, society has the right to
require any business which directly
produces orphans, widows and cripples
to provide for their support; second,
the most effective method of compel
ling dangerous employments to safe
guard their employees Is to make them
financially responsible, for injuries. In
Germany within five years after an ab
solute liability was imposed the num
ber of accidents was reduced 42 per
"If one wants an argument to prove
that in American courts property has
been more sacred than life he needs
only to point to the existing deplor
able law of master and servant. They
made that law. They have modified it
from time to time, and always in the
interest of the master.
"The New York court, admitting that
the existing law -is cruelly unjust, still
says that the remedy which all the
rest of the civilized world has found
to be best is unavailable to the Amer
ican people without an amendment of
the constitution. That is a fair exam
ple of the uses which have been made
of American constitutions. I have
made a careful study of constitutional
decisions since 1890 in the courts of
New York, Illinois and California. As
a rule, laws which they have declared
unconstitutional were adopted to cor
rect admitted industrial or social evils,
such evils as every other civilized
country in the world has been correct
ing by legislation. This study raises
the question, Are the American people
less free than other civilized people?
Our constitutions were intended to
protect us against tyranny, and they
are now most frequently used to pro
tect those who oppress women and
children and laborers. When society
attempts to redress its wrongs it is
told that its measures are unconstitu
tional. The battle of society is not
with wrong, but with the constitution.
In our legislatures the debate is not
about the wisdom of measures, but
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ten oBScure ' an3"Tiinrei-t-'ln' order to
'get round' the constitution. Every
enemy of the common good takes his
stand on the constitution and is safe.
"Either American courts will make a
different use of constitutions or con
stitutions will become so odious that
they will be thrown out of the back
window. That will be a serious mis
fortune to the United States. We need
the steadying power of written con
stitutions. But we will not submit to
being perpetually frustrated in the
accomplishment of those industrial and
social reforms which every other free
people of the world is free to accom
plish." Continuing, Mr. Roosevelt "earnestly
calls the attention of the representa
tives of the great capitalists to the
final words of this statement," and
"I fail to see how any thoughtful
man can read what I have above quot
ed aud not see ' that this decision of
the court of appeals of the state of
New York Is a case not really of in
terpretation of the law, but of the en
actment of judge-made law in defiance
of legislative enactment and In de
fiance of the Interpretation of other
legislative enactments by the highest
courts of this country. Whatever the
form, the substance of the action of
the court of appeals is not the inter
pretation of law, but the making of
law, and the making of it in a way op
pressive, well nigh ruinous to the in
terests of the wageworkers and, In
deed, to society as a whole. Such
decisions are profoundly anti-social,
are against the interests of humanity
and tell for the degradation of a very
large portion of our community, and,
above aU, they seek to establish as an
immutable principle the doctrine that
the rights of property are supreme
over the rights of humanity and that
this tree people, this American people,
is not only forbidden to better the con
ditions of mankind, but cannot even
strive to do the elementary justice
that "among even the monarchies of the
old world has already been done by
other great industrial nations."
The Organization That Stands and
Works For Some Vital Truth.
When all men speak well of your
organization watch out. It means that
you have developed into a flabby, in
vertebrate, forceless institution, says
the Rev. Dr. Charles Stelzle. One of
the glories of organized labor is that
it has strofig enemiea as Wf 11 .as strong
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friends! 'Tnereis danger In tooTmucTi
commendation. There is a letting go
of the vital things when prosperity
and flattery enter. The man or the
movement that lives and moves is
bound to make mistakes. He who nev
er makes mistakes never makes any
thing else. The best men and the
greatest movements make stepping
stones of past failures. But criticisms
and mistakes avail for very little un
less the organization has bark of it
a great purpose. The perfunctory
meeting and the platitudinous address
never win out. This is true of the la
bor union as it is true of the church
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The social aspects of an organiza
tion'3 J-is Jmportantr But .vaude
ville slows anil sir.o".:ofs and all such
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to such feature's in ,rder to hoid.its
men it is an iudit-aiiou that somewhere
there is a failing down either in lead
ership or in purpose, and it is destined
to fail.
Project a big idea. Make men see
that your organization stands for some
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identified with it must respond to the
call, "Come and suffer." This will ap
peal to all true men. Such men have
given power to the greatest movements
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