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under this section, members of State Legislatures who should vote for laws conflicting with the provisions of the bill; that judges of the State courts who should render judgments in antagonism with its terms; and that marshals and sheriffs, who should, as ministerial officers, execute processes, sanctioned by State laws and issued by State judges, in execution of their judgments, could be brought before other tribunals, and there subjected to fine and imprisonment for the performance of the duties which such State laws might impose.
“ The legislation thus proposed invades the judicial power of the State. It says to every State court or judge, If you decide that this act is unconstitutional; if you refuse, under the prohibition of a State law, to allow a negro to testify; if you hold that over such a subject-matter the State law is paramount, and 'under color of a State law refuse the exercise of the right to the negro, your error of judgment, however conscientious, shall subject you to fine and imprisonment. I do not apprehend that the conflicting legislation which the bill seems to contemplate is so likely to occur as to render it necessary at this time to adopt a measure of such doubtful constitutionality
"In the next place, this provision of the bill seems to be unnecessary, as adequate judicial remedies could be adopted to secure the desired end without invading the immunities of legislators, always important to be preserved in the interest of public liberty; without assailing the independence of the judiciary, always essential to the preservation of individual rights ; and without impairing the efficiency of ministerial officers, always necessary for the maintenance of public peace and order. The remedy proposed by this section seems to be, in this respect, not only anomalous, but unconstitutional; for the Constitution guarantees nothing with certainty, if it does not insure to the several States the right of making and executing laws in regard to all matters arising within their jurisdiction, subject only to the restriction that, in cases of conflict with the Constitution and constitutional laws of the United States, the latter should be held to be the supreme law of the land.
"The third section gives the district courts of the United States exclusive 'cognizance of all crimes and offenses committed against the provisions of this act,' and concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts of the United States of all civil and criminal cases affecting persons who are denied or can not enforce in the courts or judicial tribunals of the State or locality where they may be any of the rights secured to them by the first section.' The construction which I have given to the second section is strengthened by this third section, for it makes clear what kind of denial or deprivation of the rights secured by the first section was in contemplation. It is a denial or deprivation of such rights in the courts or judicial tribunals of the State.' It stands, therefore, clear of doubt, that the offense and the penalties provided in the second section are intended for the State judge, who, in the clear exercise of his function as a judge, not acting ministerially, but judicially, shall decide contrary to this Federal law. In other words, when a State judge, acting upon a question involving a conflict between a State law and a Federal law, and bound, according to his own judgment and responsibility, to give an impartial decision between the two, comes to the conclusion that the State law is valid and the Federal law is invalid, he must not follow the dictates of his own judgment, at the peril of fine and imprisonment. The legislative department of the Government of the United States thus takes from the judicial department of the States the sacred and exclusive duty of judicial decision, and converts the State judge into a mere ministerial officer, bound to decree according to the will of Congress.
"It is clear that, in States which deny to persons whose rights are secured by the first section of the bill any one of those rights, all criminal and civil cases affecting them will, by the provisions of the third section, come under the exclusive cognizance of the Federal tribunals. It follows that if, in any State which denies to a colored person any one of all those rights, that person should commit a crime against the laws of the Statemurder, arson, rape, or any other crime—all protection and punishment through the courts of the State are taken away, and he can only be tried and punished in the Federal courts. How is the criminal to be tried? If the offense is provided for and punished by Federal law, that law, and not the State law, is to govern.
“It is only when the offense does not happen to be within the purview of the Federal law that the Federal courts are to try and punish him under any other law; then resort is to be had to the common law, as modified and changed' by State legislation, so far as the same is not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States.' So that over this vast domain of criminal jurisprudence, provided by each State for the protection of its own citizens, and for the punishment of all persons who violate its criminal laws, Federal law, wherever it can be made to apply, displaces State law.
“The question here naturally arises, from what source Congress derives the power to transfer to Federal tribunals certain classes of cases embraced in this section. The Constitution expressly declares that the judicial power of the United States 'shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting embassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more States, between a State and citizens of another State, between citizens of different States, between citizens of the same State claiming land under grants of different States, and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens, or subjects.'
"Here the judicial power of the United States is expressly set forth and defined; and the act of September 24, 1789, establishing the judicial courts of the United States, in conferring upon the Federal courts jurisdiction over cases originating in State tribunals, is careful to confine them to the classes enumerated in the above recited clause of the Constitution. This section of the bill undoubtedly comprehends case, and authorizes the exercise of powers that are not, by the Constitution, within the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States. To transfer them to those courts would be an exercise of authority well calculated to excite distrust and alarm on the part of all the States; for the bill applies alike to all of them as well to those that have as to those that have not been engaged in rebellion.
“It may be assumed that this authority is incident to the power granted to Congress by the Constitution, as recently amended, to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the article declaring that 'neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.' It can not, however, be justly claimed that, with à view to the enforcement of this article of the Constitution, there is, at present, any necessity for the exercise of all the powers which this bill confers.
Slavery has been abolished, and, at present, nowhere exists within the jurisdiction of the United States; nor has there been, nor is it likely there will be, any attempt to revive it by the people of the States. If, however, any such attempt shall be made, it will then become the duty of the General Government to exercise any and all incidental powers necessary and proper to maintain inviolate this great constitutional law of freedom.
" The fourth section of the bill provides that officers and agents of the Freedmen's Bureau shall be empowered to make arrests, and also that other officers may be specially commissioned for that purpose by the President of the United States. It also authorizes circuit courts of the United States and the superior courts of the Territories to appoint, without limitation, commissioners, who are to be charged with the performance of quasi judicial duties. The fifth section empowers the commissioners so to be selected by the courts to appoint, in writing, under their hands, one or more suitable persons, from time to time, to execute warrants and other processes described by the bill. These numerous official agents are made to constitute a sort of police, in addition to the military, and are authorized to summon a posse comitatus and even to call to their aid such portion of the land and naval forces of the United States, or of the militia, “as may be necessary to the performance of the duty with which they are charged.'
“This extraordinary power is to be conferred upon agents irresponsible to the Government and to the people, to whose number the discretion of the commissioners is the only limit, and in whose hands such authority might be made a terrible engine of wrong, oppression, and fraud. The general statutes regulating the land and naval forces of the United States, the militia, and the execution of the laws, are believed to be adequate for every emergency which can occur in time of peace. If it should prove otherwise, Congress can, at any time, amend those laws in such manner as, while subserving the public welfare, not to jeopard the rights, interests, and liberties of the people.
“The seventh section provides that a fee of ten dollars shall be paid to each commissioner in every case brought before him, and a fee of five dollars to his deputy, or deputies, 'for each person he or they may arrest and take before any such commissioner,' 'with such other fees as may be deemed reasonable by such commissioner,' 'in general for performing such other duties as may be required in the premises.' All these fees are to be paid out of the Treasury of the United States,' whether there is a conviction or not; but, in case of conviction, they are to be recoverable from the defendant. It seems to me that, under the influence of such temptations, bad men might convert any law, however beneficent, into an instrument of persecution and fraud.
"By the eighth section of the bill, the United States courts, which sit only in one place for white citizens, must migrate, with the marshal and district attorney (and necessarily with the clerk, although he is not mentioned), to any part of the district, upon the order of the President, and there hold a court 'for the purpose of the more speedy arrest and trial of persons charged with a violation of this act;' and there the judge and the officers of the court must remain, upon the order of the President, 'for the time therein designated.
“The ninth section authorizes the President, or such person as he may empower for that purpose, to employ such part of the land and naval forces of the United States, or of the militia, as shall be necessary to prevent the violation and enforce the due execution of this act.' This language seems to imply a permanent military force, that is to be always at hand, and whose only business is to be the enforcement of this measure over the vast region where it is intended to operate.
"I do not propose to consider the policy of this bill. To me the details of the bill seem fraught with evil. The white race and the black race of the South have hitherto lived together under the relation of master and slave -capital owning labor. Now, suddenly, that relation is changed, and, as to the ownership, capital and labor are divorced. They stand, now, each master of itself. In this new relation, one being necessary to the other, there will be a new adjustment, which both are deeply interested in making harmonious. Each has equal power in settling the terms, and, if left to the laws that regulate capital and labor, it is confidently believed that they will satisfactorily work out the problem. Capital, it is true, has more intelligence; but labor is never so ignorant as not to understand its own interests, not to know its own value, and not to see that capital must pay that value. This bill frustrates this adjustment. It intervenes between capital and labor, and attempts to settle questions of political economy through the agency of numerous officials, whose interest it will be to foment discord between the two races; for, as the breach widens, their employment will continue, and when it is closed, their occupation will terminate.
"In all our history, in all our experience as a people living under Federal and State law, no such system as that contemplated by the details of this bill has ever before been proposed or adopted. They establish, for the security of the colored race, safeguards which go infinitely beyond any that the General Government has ever provided for the white race. In fact, the distinction of race and color is, by the bill, made to operate in favor of the colored and against the white race. They interfere with the municipal legislation of the States, with the relations existing exclusively between a State and its citizens, or between inhabitants of the same State-an absorption and assumption of power by the General Government which, if acquiesced in, must sap and destroy our federative system of limited powers, and break down the barriers which preserve the rights of the States. It is another step, or rather stride, to centralization and the concentration of all legislative power in the National Government. The tendency of the bill must be to resuscitate the spirit of rebellion, and to arrest the progress of those influences which are more closely drawing around the States the bonds, of union
“My lamented predecessor, in his proclamation of the 1st of January, 1863, ordered and declared that all persons held as slaves within certain States and parts of States therein designated, were and thenceforward should be free; and, further, that the Executive Government of the United States, incľuding the military and naval authorities thereof, would recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons. This guarantee has been rendered especially obligatory and sacred by the amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery throughout the United States. I, therefore, fully recognize the obligation to protect and defend that class of our people whenever and wherever it shall become necessary, and to the full extent compatible with .the Constitution of the United States.
Entertaining these sentiments, it only remains for me to say that I will cheerfully coöperate with Congress in any measure that may be necessary for the protection of the civil rights of the freedmen, as well as those of all other classes of persons throughout the United States, by judicial process under equal and impartial laws, in conformity with the provisions of the Federal Constitution.
“I now return the bill to the Senate, and regret that, in considering the bills and joint resolutions--forty-two in number--which have been thus far submitted for my approval, I am compelled to withhold my assent from a second measure that has received the sanction of both houses of Congress.
“WASHINGTON, D. C., March 27, 1866."
The death and funeral obsequies of Senator Foot prevented the Senate from proceeding to the consideration of the President's veto message for more than a week after it was read. On the 4th of April the Civil Rights Bill came up to be recónsidered, the question being, “Shall the bill pass, the objections of the President notwithstanding."
It devolved upon Mr. Trumbull, the author of the bill, to answer the objections of the President. In answer to the President's position that the bill conferred only Federal citizenship, and did not give any status as citizens of States, Mr. Trumbull said: "Is it true that when a person becomes a citizen of the United States he is not also a citizen of every State where he may happen to be? On this point I will refer to a decision pronounced by the Supreme Court of the United States, delivered by Chief-Justice Marshall, the most eminent jurist who ever sat upon an American bench. In the case of Gassies vs.