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be removed from office. But in the appointment and retention of his Cabinet, and in the general administration of the government, he is entirely independent, and is unaffected by hostile majorities in either house of Congress. And, except by impeachment, neither he nor his Cabinet can be turned out of office, until the end of his tenure arrives.
The judicial department, subject in all respects to whatever legislation may be adopted by Congress within the limits of its authority, and liable to impeachment as before pointed out, is paramount only in its power over constitutional questions within the limits that have been stated.
Each department is, therefore, independent and supreme to the just extent of its authority, and cannot be controlled therein by any other. Each, on the other hand, is restrained within the proper limits of its power by the action of the other branches. Around all stand the impassable and clearly defined barriers of the Constitution, “the supreme law of the land.”
In respect to the judicial protection afforded by the Constitution of the United States, not only against private but against legislative or governmental infringement, enough has been said. It will be observed that this protection is not a substitute for legislative provisions, but is supplementary to them, and a check upon them. Congress and the President are as much bound to respect in their action the limits of the Constitution as the courts are, and it is not presumed that either will ever consciously exceed them. It is only in the event that, under pressure of political controversy, or of popular feeling, or some mistaken view of the restrictions of the fundamental law, such an excess of authority should take place, that the additional safeguard of an appeal to the judicial power comes into play. It is not, therefore, the question whether legislature or judiciary should determine whether a law contravenes the Constitution; so far as individual rights are concerned, both must concur, if the action of the legislature is challenged on that ground.
In the prominence thus given to the judicial power, the Constitution of the United States stands alone among systems of government. The result, thus far in its history, has been most satisfactory. The construction and application which the Constitution has received have been wise, just, harmonious, and stable. It has not acquired its significance from party views, varied with the change of administrations, nor under the influence of popular opinion. It has taken shape under the calm light and dispassionate discussion that belong to judicial consideration, where partisan controversy does not intrude, and where all previous precedents are kept in view. A gradual and permanent structure of constitutional law has, therefore, grown up, sound in its principles, clear and exact in its expression.
It is not to be doubted that it is because its construction was intrusted so largely to the judicial department, rather than to the legislative, that the Constitution has survived. Had the disposal of the new and vital questions it presented been submitted to the latter, and decided, as they might have been, by the votes of many who were incompetent to deal with such subjects, and under the influence of political excitement, party warfare and personal ambition, it would have been hardly possible that they should have received the salutary solution they have now attained. Nor would any solution have been final. What one legislature might do, it would have been open for another to undo. And the Constitution would in many material respects have fluctuated in its meaning, in sympathy with the opinion of parties and the exigencies of administration, unstable as the legislation it was designed to control.
It is not intended in these observations to institute any general comparison between the legislative and the judicial powers as the ultimate guardian of the rights of the citizen, but only to illustrate the working of one system in which the two have been combined. It is undoubtedly true that, in the history of free institutions, there has been a gradual advance towards a greater centralization of power in the legislature, which, if subjected to no checks, may be expected to continue. It has been American experience, certainly, that it is the encroachments of that department, rather than of the Executive, which need principally to be guarded against. The common law in all its branches is fast being superseded by statutes, each framed with a view to its own subject only, with no reference to the general harmony of the system of which it forms a part. Legislation is coming to be thought the universal remedy, and it does not appear to be felt that there can be too much of it. Limits that have formerly restrained it are regarded with impatience, and legislatures are reproached if the quantity they turn out is small. Human sorrow and misfortune are deemed to be chiefly due to the want of more law. Even the hungry and the naked are taught that they may be fed and clothed with the east wind of fresh statutes. It may be that all human government tends more or less slowly towards despotism of some kind, either in executive power, in an aristocracy, in legislative authority, in political organizations, or in the supremacy of the multitude. Perhaps the very effort of guarding against one form leads towards another, and so history repeats itself in a slow but perpetual revolution. Power may breed power wherever it resides, and the machinery devised to restrain tyranny may become in time itself tyrannical. If these sombre views are well founded, that system of government is the best which most strongly opposes and longest retards the inevitable process and offers the most hopeful promise of "peace in our time.” Upon a thoughtful review of the Constitution of the United States, it may probably appear that there is no other system that has, on the whole, combined together as many safeguards of that true liberty which is under the law, not beyond it, which supports the law instead of opposing it.
That future amendments of the Constitution of the United States may be found necessary is not improbable. Perfection is not to be claimed for it; nor, were perfection attainable, could it be permanent, because government, like law, must advance with society. As has been seen, its structure consists of two very different elements: the principles upon which it is founded, and the machinery it devises. The former are not likely to change, for, if sound, they must always remain so. No modification of them has been proposed, or even suggested, as yet, save the early additions, already described, by which restrictions on governmental powers were expressed, which were before only understood, and those later great and salutary amendments by which the blot and inconsistency of slavery was finally removed.
In respect to the machinery, the Constitution itself provides the means by which amendments can be obtained. What changes may be found desirable hereafter it is useless to speculate upon, and impossible to predict. It may be safely assumed that none will be adopted in anticipation of their necessity, nor upon the strength of any prognostications, however skilful. Prophecy has small influence on Anglo-Saxon people, and reasoning in advance of the facts almost as little. They readily accept the maxim, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” and stand fast by existing institutions against all arguments to prove that they are going to fail, until experience proves that they have failed. By such experience, once clearly obtained, they rapidly profit. It is the best hope of the race that no fabric will long stand before it when demonstrated by the logic of events to be unavailing, mischievous, or wrong.
Some important topics in governmental administration, though not involving any constitutional amendment, have already begun to attract attention in the United States, and may hereafter be more largely considered. Bills have been introduced in Congress during its present session intended to prevent more effectually the immigration of foreign paupers, and of anarchists and other criminals. The generosity of the nation in receiving all comers without inquiry is felt to have been abused, and the abuse will not probably be permitted to continue. There is a disposition also to pay a stricter regard to the require