« AnteriorContinuar »
between the jurisdiction of the federal courts and of the state courts, so that they will keep the country in hot water. It has been said that the impropriety of this was mentioned by some in the Convention. I cannot see the reasons of giving the federal courts jurisdiction in these cases; but I am sure it will occasion great expense unnecessarily. The state judiciaries will have very little to do. It will be almost useless to keep them up. As all officers are to take an oath to support the general government, it will carry every thing before it. This will produce that consolidation through the United States which is apprehended. I am sure that I do not see that it is possible to avoid it. I can see no power that can keep up the little remains of the power of the states. Our rights are not guarded. There is no declaration of rights, to secure to every member of the society those unalienable rights which ought not to be given up to any government. Such a bill of rights would be a check upon men in power. Instead of such a bill of rights, this Constitution has a clause which may warrant encroachments on the power of the respective state legislatures. I know it is said that what is not given up to the United States will be retained by the individual states. I know it ought to be so, and should be so understood; but, sir, it is not declared to
In the Confederation it is expressly declared that all rights and powers, of any kind whatever, of the several states, which are not given up to the United States, are expressly and absolutely retained, to be enjoyed by the states. There ought to be a bill of rights, in order that those in power may not step over the boundary between
of government and the rights of the people, which they may do when there is nothing to prevent them. They may do so without a bill of rights; notice will not be readily taken of the encroachments of rulers, and they may go a great length before the people are alarmed. Oppression may therefore take place by degrees; but if there were express terms and bounds laid down, when these were passed by, the people would take notice of them, and oppressions would not be carried on to such a length. I look upon it, therefore, that there ought to be something to confine the power of this government within its proper boundaries. I know that several writers have said that a bill of rights is not necessary in this country; that some states had them
not, and that others had. To these I answer, that those states that have them not as bills of rights, strictly so called, have them in the frame of their constitution, which is nearly the same.
There has been a comparison made of our situation with Great Britain. We have no crown, or prerogative of a king, like the British constitution. I take it, that the subject has been misunderstood. In Great Britain, when the king attempts to usurp the rights of the people, the declaration and bill of rights are a guard against him. A bill of rights would be necessary here to guard against our rulers. I wish to have a bill of rights, to secure those unalienable rights, which are called by some respectable writers the residuum of human rights, which are never to be given up. At the same time that it would give security to individuals, it would add to the general strength. It might not be so necessary to have a bill of rights in the government of the United States, if such means had not been made use of as endanger a consolidation of all the states ; but at any event, it would be proper to have one, because, though it might not be of any other service, it would at least satisfy the minds of the people. It would keep the states from being swallowed up by a consolidated government. For the reasons I before gave, I think that the jurisdiction of the federal court, with respect to all cases in law and equity, and the laws of Congress, and the appeals in all cases between citizens of different states, &c., is inadmissible. I do not see the necessity that it should be vested with the cognizance of all these matters. I am desirous, and have no objection to their having one Supreme Federal Court for general matters; but if the federal courts have cognizance of those subjects which I mentioned, very great oppressions may arise. Nothing can be more oppressive than the cognizance with respect to controversies between citizens of different states. In all cases of appeal, those persons who are able to pay had better pay down in the first instance, though it be unjust, than be at such a dreadful expense by going such a distance to the Supreme Federal Court. Some of the most respectable states have proposed, by way of amendments, to strike out a great part of these two clauses. If they be admitted as they are, it will render the country entirely unhappy.
On the contrary, I see no inconvenience from reducing the power as has been proposed. I am of opinion that it is inconsistent with the happiness of the people to admit these two clauses. The state courts are sufficient to decide the common controversies of the people, without distressing them by carrying them to such far-distant tribunals. If I did not consider these two clauses to be dangerous, I should not object to them. I mean not to object to any thing that is not absolutely necessary. I wish to be candid, and not be prejudiced or warped.
Mr. SPAIGHT. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman insinuates that differences existed in the Federal Convention respecting the clauses which he objects to. Whoever told him so was wrong; for I declare that, in that Convention, a the unanimous desire of all was to keep separate and distinct the objects of the jurisdiction of the federal from that of the v state judiciary. They wished to separate them as judiciously as possible, and to consult the ease and convenience of the people. The gentleman objects to the cognizance of all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution and the laws of the United States. This objection is very astonishing. When any government is established, it ought to have power to enforce its laws, or else it might as well have no power. What but that is the use of a judiciary? The gentleman, from his profession, must know that no government can exist without a judiciary to enforce its laws, by distinguishing the disobedient from the rest of the people, and imposing sanctions for securing the execution of the laws. As to the inconvenience of distant attendance, Congress has power of establishing inferior tribunals in each state, so as to accommodate every citizen. As Congress have it in their power, will they not do it? Are we to elect men who will wantonly and unnecessarily betray us?
Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I hoped that some gentleman more capable than
myself would have obviated the objections to this part. The objections offered by the gentleman appear to me totally without foundation. He told us that these clauses tended to a consolidation of the states. I cannot see how the states are to be consolidated by establishing these two clauses. He enumerated a number of cases which would be involved within the cognizance of the federal courts; customs, excises, duties, stamp duties a stamp on every article, on every contract - in order to bring
all persons into the federal court; and said that there would be necessarily courts in every district and county, which would be attended with enormous and needless expense, for that the state courts could do every thing. He went on further, and said that there would be a necessity of having sheriffs and other officers in these inferior departments. A wonderful picture indeed, drawn up in a wonderful manner! I will venture to say that the gentleman's suggestions are not warranted by any reasonable construction of the Constitution. The laws can, in general, be executed by the officers of the states. State courts and state officers will, for the most part, probably answer the purpose of Congress as well as any other. But the gentleman says that the state courts will be swallowed up by the federal courts. This is only a general assertion, unsupported by any probable reasons or arguments. The objects of each are separate and distinct. I
suppose that whatever courts there may be, they will be established according to the convenience of the people. This we must suppose from the mode of electing and appointing the members of the government. State officers will as much as possible be employed, for one very considerable reason - I mean, to lessen the expense. But he imagines that the oath to be taken by officers will tend to the subversion of our state governments and of our liberty, Can any government exist without fidelity in its officers? Ought not the officers of every government to give some security for the faithful discharge of their trust? The officers are only to be sworn to support the Constitution, and therefore will only be bound by their oath so far as it shall be strictly pursued. No officer will be bound by his oath to support any act that would violate the principles of the Constitution.
The gentleman has wandered out of his way to tell us what has so often been said out of doors — that there is no declaration of rights; that consequently all our rights are taken away. It would be very extraordinary to have a bill of rights, because the powers of Congress are expressly defined; and the very definition of them is as valid and efficacious a check as a bill of rights could be, without the dangerous implication of a bill of rights. The powers of Congress are limited and enumerated. We say we have given them those powers, but we do not say we have given them more.
We retain all those rights which we have not given away to the general government. The gentleman is a professional
If a gentleman had made his last will and testament, and devised or bequeathed to a particular person the sixth part of his property, or any particular specific legacy, could it be said that that person should have the whole estate? If they can assume powers not enumerated, there was no occasion for enumerating any powers. The gentleman is learned. Without recurring to his learning, he may only appeal to his common sense; it will inform him that, if we had all power before, and give away but a part, we still retain the rest. It is as plain a thing as possibly can be, that Congress can have no power but what we expressly give them. There is an express clause which, however disingenuously it has been perverted from its true meaning, clearly demonstrates that they are confined to those powers which are given them. This clause enables them to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or any department or officers thereof." This clause specifies that they shall make laws to carry into execution all the powers vested by this Constitution; consequently, they can make no laws to execute any other power. This clause gives no new power, but declares that those already given are to be executed by proper laws. I hope this will satisfy gentlemen.
Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, the learned member from Anson says that the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction of all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States. The opinion which I have always entertained is, that they will, in these cases, as well as in several others, have concurrent jurisdiction with the state courts, and not exclusive jurisdiction. I see nothing in this Constitution which hinders a man from bringing suit wherever he thinks he can have justice done him. The jurisdiction of these courts is established for some purposes with which the state courts have nothing to do, and the Constitution takes no power from the state courts which they now have. They will have the same business which they have now, and if so, they will have enough to employ their time. We know that the gentlemen who preside in our superior