Page images
PDF
EPUB

the following provision had been added: “Provided, however, that apon application to the high priest or ecclesiastical commissioner appointed under the provisions of this act persons so designated may be authorized to cheat, steal, bear false witness, or covet, and said commission may from time to time prescribe the extent to which said persons may be relieved from any or all of said commandments." Under such circumstances would not the world have been without moral law from Moses to CULLOM and from Mount Sinai to Pike's Peak? (Great laughter.]

A distinguished gentleman (Senator FRYE] discussing this bill said, in another place:

I should like to know what the fourth section means from this discussion. I should like to know how I or my constituents are to determine what it means from this discussion. I should like to know what lights have been thrown upon it. The conferees disagree in relation to it; almost every Senator who has discussed it disagrees with the other Senators in relation to it. Boards of trade in Boston and Indianapolis, the Chamber of Commerce in New York, Legislatures of the different States, all absolutely disagree diametrically as to what this fourth section is.

And another Senator, in another place not mentionable here, characterized the bill as follows:

But there are matters in which, in my opinion, the bill is even more fatally defective, if that were possible, than in the particulars to which attention has been called. I regret that I have to vote for it, and I think there are a great many others in the same condition. This is a bill which practically nobody wants and which everybody intends to vote for, a bill which nobody is satisfied with and which everybody intends to accept, a bill whicb nobody knows what it means and yet we have all agreed it ought to pass.

But the distinguished gentleman is too broad and sweeping when he says the bill is in the condition he describes. It is only those portions of the measure which refer to the rights of the people which are obscure and shrouded in mystery. The things which are certain in this bill are precisely the things which the people do not want, and the things which are uncertain are precisely those about which the people demand the greatest possible certainty. All the safeguards thrown around the corporations are plain and unmistakable. There is no uncertainty whatever here. We will examine them in their order.

THREE THINGS THAT ARE CERTAIN. The con mission clause is certain. Does this House know that perforce of the very provision creating this commission it is provided that the terms of four of the commissioners will expire during the next Presidential term? The commissioners hold their office for two, three, four, five, six years from the 1st of January, 1887.

And only one of the five appointed can be reappointed by the present administration; four out of five of the commissioners must be appointed by the next incumbent of the Presidential office.

Mr. STEELE. Do you object to that because we are going to have a Republican? (Laughter.]

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. This is to be a political board, and it is expressiy made so by section 11, which provides that not more than three of the commissioners shall be appointed from the same political party. Why is that provision in the bill? Why is politics expressly legislated into this bill?

Mr. ROWELL. Does not that give permission to appoint men who do not belong to either party?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Oh, yes; but does anybody believe they will do it?

The construction which these men place upon the law will be of the highest possible political consequence, and does anybody doubt that, if the next President of the United States should be a Republican, and having the appointment of the new members of the commission, that three of the members appointed by the present administration will go out, and three Republicans be placed on the board? I say that the functions of this board will make their decisions of the highest political significance, and unless the commissioners are stronger than human nature has generally been found to be when tempted, they will have the strongest possible temptation to make their decisions such as to gain the greatest amount of political power. Have we not seen that manifested upon the highest bench in the world ? Have we not seen it in the subordinate courts of the country, political bias everywhere? Why, it is foolish to suppose that these men will be above political bias, political preference, and political leanings.

Another point with regard to this commission. It will be absolutely impotent to do anything for the people. Why, my colleagues, we have in this country 135,000 miles of railway, rapidly increasing, existing in thirty-eight States and nine Territories, with depots every 6 or 8 miles along the whole 135,000 miles, doing business every hour of every day with sixty millions of people ; how will it be possible for a little court of five men, holding their sessions here in Washington, 1,200 miles away from my constituents and much farther from those who live nearer the setting sun-how will it be possible, I ask, for such a little court to determine the matters in controversy arising between sixty millions of people and this vast net-work of corporations covering the whole country? They can not do it. It is impossible. Five commissioners can not properly attend to the business of any one of the great trunk lines of this country, much less to all the interstate com merce of America. It is utterly impossible.

Why, sir, we have in this country in every State circuit courts and district courts, mayors of cities, superior courts, two justices of the peace in every township, circuit courts of the United States, district courts of the United States, supreme courts of the States and of the nation, and yet so great is the business arising from the multiplied transactions of our sixty millions of people that delay, delay, delay, is the rule now, even with all these courts constantly in operation throughout all the States and Territories. Yet you are going to relegate those sixty millions of people to one little court of five men, holding its sessions here at the capital of the nation, the most inconvenient point that could possibly be designated. This commission, sir, is useless, if it is not vicious.

Again, by the fourth section of the bill the commission are given power to suspend the operation of the law, and their action is final. This bill undertakes in the fourth section to prohibit certain things being done; in another section it prescribes a penalty of $5,000 for the violation of that provision; and then in the last part of the fourth section it authorizes these five men, who are not responsible to any body on earth, to take final action, suspending both the prohibition and the penal sections of the act.

I come now to another important feature of the bill, the exclusive jurisdiction which it gives to the Federal courts to hear causes arising under the provisions of the act. Why not the State courts? We have the power, and I appeal to Democratic members of this House, is it according to the traditions of your party, is it Democratic, to build up the jurisdiction and the power of the Federal courts of this country? Is it not Democratic rather to open the State courts and keep them open

[ocr errors]

those courts created by the people for their own protection—is it not Democratic to enlarge their powers rather than to increase the powers of the Federal courts? I have said that we have the power to confer jurisdiction on the State courts. The gentleman from Georgia [Mr. CRISP) yesterday said that, “waiving the question” as to the power of the Government to confer jurisdietion on State courts, he had simply this to say, that if the House conferees had insisted upon retaining the State-court clause of the Reagan bill, we would have had no bill to pass this session. Aye, aye, a clear confession of surrender on the part of the conferees of this House to the clamor of the Senate conferees and to the theory contained in the Senate bill. It can be nothing else.

Mr. CRISP. Did the gentleman hope or expect that all the surrendering was to be done on the part of the Senate and none on the part of the House?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Not at all. In matters involving no great question of principle, in matters of trivial importance, I would expect the conferees of the House to be conciliatory and yielding; but in matters that are fundamental, matters that go to the very marrow of this question, I for one did expect, and my constituents expected, and this country expected, that the House conferees would stand like a wall of iron and a tower of adamant against the encroachments of the corporate influences of this country. [Applause.]

Mr. CRISP. If the gentleman will allow me, I think that the corporate influences of this country were very much in hope that the conference would result in just such a failure as the gentleman says he expected.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Not at all, Mr. Speaker. No railroad mau has ever risen, no man who is suspected of being in the interest of the railroads has ever risen in the discussion of this compromise bill, either in the Senate or in this House, to denounce the features of the bill that I am denouncing here now. It is true these railroad men have clamored against this bill, but they have clamored against the provisions which were in the Cullom bill when it passed the Senate, and we have repeatedly declared that to be a railroad bill. They have also clamored for the very provisions which the people from the start have said ought never to be incorporated in any interstate-commerce bill. No railroad man has ever objected to the commission; no railroad man has ever objected to the Federal court clause; no railroad man has ever objected to the power on the part of the commission to suspend the operation of the fourth section of this bill. They have at all times insisted that these sections should go into the bill if any bill was to pass.

Mr. HEPBURN. The gentleman will allow me to ask whether he was satisfied with the provision of the Reagan bill with reference to court jurisdiction ?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Not entirely. I thought the jurisdiction ought to be exclusively in the State courts. But the Reagan bill did clothe the State courts with jurisdiction of the questions arising under it.

Mr. WARNER, of Ohio. The gentleman will allow me to ask wbether he is in favor of the long and short haul provision ?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Yes, of the Reagan bill, but I am now discussiog another provision, and I prefer not to be diverted from my line of argument.

Mr. HEPBURN. Before the gentleman leaves this point will he

1

allow me to call his attention to the exact language of the Reagan bill on this subject?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Certainly. Mr. HEPBURN. (Reading) – Which attorney's fee shall be taxed and collected as costs in the case, to be recovered by the person or persons so damaged by suit in any State or United States court of competent jurisdiction.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Certainly.

Mr. HEPBURN. Does that language confer jurisdiction, or does it simply permit suit to be brought where jurisdiction now exists?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Oh, it was intended to confer jurisdiction as to damages as well as to costs, and that is what it did. I was discussing the power of Congress to confer jurisdiction on the State courts. Upon this point I desire to quote from 24 Howarl, 108. I shall read very briefly from the language of Chief-Justice Taney in that case:

It is true that in the early days of the Government, Congress relied with confidence upon the co-operation and support of the States when exercising the legitimate powers of the General Government, and were accustomed to receive it upon principles of comity, and from a sense of mutual and common interest, where no such duty was imposed by the Constitution. And laws were passed authorizing State courts to entertain jurisdiction in proceedings by the United States to recover penalties and forfeitures incurred by breaches of their revenue laws and giving to the State courts the same authority with the district court of the United States to enforce such penalties and forfeitures, and also the power to hear the allegations of parties and to take proofs if an application for a remission of the penalty or forfeiture should be made according to the provisions of the acts of Congress.

Mr. BRUMM. That is not exclusive jurisdiction ?
Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Oh, no.

Mr. BRUMM. Has the gentleman any authority on the point of giving the State courts exclusive jurisdiction ?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. No, sir; that question is not involved here. Now, I wish to read from the decision of the Supreme Court delivered by Mr. Justice Field in the case of the United States vs. Jones, United States Reports 109, page 519:

Whether the tribunal shall be created directly by an act of Congress, or one already established by the States shall be adopted for the occasion, is a mere matter of legislative discretion.

Thus it is clearly established that it is a “mere matter of legislative discretion” whether we shall create a tribunal to carry out the provisions of an act of Congress, or whether we shall confer authority upon State tribunals to do it. Pursuing this same subject Justice Field on page 520 uses this language:

At different times various duties have been imposed by acts of Congress upon State tribunals; they have been invested with jurisdiction in civil suits and over complaints and prosecutions for fines, penalties, and forfeitures arising under laws of the United States.

Mr. CRISP. Will the gentleman allow me to call his attention to a passage from the decision in 24 Howard to which he has already referred ?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Certainly. Mr. CRISP (reading). And in these cases the co-operation of the States was a matter of comity, which the several sovereignties extended to one another for their mutual benefit. It was not regarded by either party as an obligation imposed by the Constitution. And the acts of Congress conferring the jurisdiction merely give the power to the State tribunals, but do not purport to regard it as a duty, and they leave it to the States to exercise it or not, as might best comport with their own sense of justice, and their own interest and convenience.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Undoubtedly that is correct.

Mr. CRISP. The gentleman will allow me to say that this was a case where the State authority was required to do a certain thing; and the Supreme Court held it had not the right to do it under the circumstances.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. I know what that case is; I think the gentleman is not familiar with it.

Mr. CRISP. Here it is in this volume; it speaks for itself.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. I will state that case. It is the case of the Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. Governor Dennison, of Ohio. There was a mandamus proceeding commenced to compel Governor Dennison to surrender a fugitive from justice from the State of Kentucky. The act of 1793 provided that when the requisition was made, it should be the duty of the governor to surrender the fugitive. The Supreme Court held that the State officer could not be compelled in that way. Now, of course, I do not take the position that we can compel a State court or any State officer to discharge a duty under United States law. The court, in the very language which I have read, declared that the action of the State authorities in such cases is a matter of comity. But does anybody suppose for a moment that the State courts would refuse to exercise jurisdiction under a law to prohibit wrongful discriminations on the part of railroad companies ?

Those decisions go on to say the State Legislatures may give consent—that is, that they may pass an act consenting to give jurisdiction to the State courts under the Federal law. That would make their jurisdiction complete, and, furthermore, make it compulsory on the part of State courts to entertain that jurisdiction. There is no fear in that regard, for they will be responsible to the people for the manner in which they exercise their authority; but when you come to the Federal court you have no such safeguard thrown around that tribunal.

Mr. OATES. That question first came before the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Prigg against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in 16 Peters, and ever since then it has been settled and accepted by all the State tribunals whose decisions I have ever seen. That statute conferring jurisdiction on State courts did not oblige them to exercise it, but they could exercise it if they saw proper unless prohibited by some State statute.

Mr. WEAVER, of lowa. Yes; a State could accept the burden.

Mr. OATES. They can accept it unless there is a prohibitory State statute.

Mr. CRISP. There is no issue on that point.
The SPEAKER. The gentleman's time has expired.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. I should like to go on for twenty minutes.

The SPEAKER. Is there objection to the gentleman continuing his remarks beyond the hour?

There was no objection.

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. I do not desire to detain the House much longer. But, Mr. Speaker, it is conceded here that there is power on the part of the Government to confer jurisdiction on the State courts.

Mr. CRISP. Let me call the gentleman's attention to another fact, and I will pot interrupt him again. I thank him for his courtesy in yielding to me.

If any remedy exists in State courts, it exists at common law, does it not?

Mr. WEAVER, of Iowa. Certainly.

Mr. CRISP. For any violation of the common-law rule—we concede most of these provisions are the same as the common-law rule—this act

« PreviousContinue »