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83. Empowering President to veto items in appropriation bills.
86. Six-year term for President.
89. Requiring popular vote before declaration of war.
94. Giving Congress right to fix terms of office of judges of inferior courts of the United States.
97. Authorizing taxation of income derived from State, municipal, etc., securities. 133. Suffrage for citizens of District of Columbia.
151. Election of President by direct vote.
155. Use of money in elections.
200, 224, and 232. Child labor.
253. Time for convening of Congress, abolishment of electoral college, term of President, etc.
254. Authorizing taxation of income derived from State, municipal, etc., securities. 256 and 262. Child labor.
Method of amending Constitution.
Apportionment of Representatives..
Term of President; election of President by direct vote; abolishment of electoral college; apportionment of Representatives, etc...
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTIONS PROPOSING AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
[Introduced during the Sixty-seventh Congress from March 4, 1921, to January 15, 1923.]
12, 21, and 29. Providing that proposed amendments shall be submitted for a referendum vote of the people.
35. Child labor.
69. Proposing method for amending Constitution.
102. Authorizing Congress to tax salaries of public officials and income derived from State, municipal, etc., securities.
110. Providing for initiative and referendum on constitutional amendments and
118. Proposing method for amending Constitution.
131 and 137. Prohibiting polygamy.
139. Filling vacancies in membership of House of Representatives.
162. Proposing method for amending Constitution.
176. Empowering President to veto items in appropriation bills.
188. Elections to Federal office.
197. Defining treason.
211. Authorizing taxation of income derived from State, municipal, etc., securities. 220. Four-year term for Representatives.
226. Apportionment of Representatives.
231 and 232. Authorizing taxation of income derived from State, municipal, etc., securities.
250. Defining treason.
252. Filling vacancies in House of Representatives.
290. Six-year term for President and four-year term for Representatives.
314. Authorization taxation of income derived from State, municipal, etc., securities. 320 and 321. To permit beer and light wines.
327, 332, and 334. Child labor.
335. Giving Congress power to regulate expenditures for elections.
340 and 341. Child labor.
346. To prohibit levy by Congress of income and other direct taxes.
355. Child labor.
356. Referendum on war declarations.
365. Nomination and election of Senators and Representatives. 367, 368, 370, 374, and 376. Child labor.
380. To create tariff court.
381. To regulate production of and commerce in coal, oil, and gas.
384. Conscription of citizens, money, and industries for war.
385. Child labor.
386. Permitting manufacture and sale of beer.
390. Four-year term for Representatives.
407 and 410. Child labor.
413. Presidential term.
421. Child labor.
Methods of amending Constitution.
Taxation (majority having to do with taxing income from State, municipal, etc.,
Beer or light wines and beer..
To create tariff court..
Regulation commerce in coal, oil, and gas..
Term of President, Representatives; election of President, Senators, Representatives, and public officers; filling vacancies in House; apportionment, etc. Veto of items in appropriation bills..
Mr. COOLIDGE. I suppose the committee is also familiar with an address by former Senator Thomas before the New York State Bar Association in January, 1920, a very able address, brief and strong, as everything he does is strong, indicating amendment proposed up to that time.
Senator COLT You refer to Senator Thomas, of Colorado?
Mr. COOLIDGE. I refer to Senator Thomas, of Colorado. I had some difficulty in obtaining a copy and I had to have it typewritten, and if the committee is willing I would like to have that incorporated.
Senator OVERMAN. Let it go in. I would like to have it go in the Congressional Record.
Mr. COOLIDGE. I would, too.
Senator COLT. Let it be inserted in the record of our hearing.
(The matter referred to will be found printed at the end of this hearing.)
Mr. COOLIDGE. The reason I am here, Mr. Chairman, is because I happen to be the head of the Sentinels of the Republic, the purposes of which are to maintain the fundamental principles of the American Constitution; to oppose further Federal encroachment upon the reserved rights of the States; to stop the growth of socialism; to prevent concentration of power in Washington through the multiplication of administrative bureaus under a perverted interpretation of the general welfare clause, and to help preserve a free republican form of government in the United States.
We have got a good many thousand members. I think perhaps the majority of the people in this room are members. You do not happen to be, Senator.
Senator COLT. Perhaps I am not qualified.
Mr. COOLIDGE. I am inclined to think that you would pass the admissions committee. We extend all over the United States. We are a Federal form of government in our own way. We have a national committee of correspondents, we have State committees of correspondents, and local and city committees of correspondents, and we are trying to keep things humming, so far as we can, in opposition to certain tendencies of the day.
Senator OVERMAN. Getting up propaganda of your own?
Mr. COOLIDGE. Of our own. I think you are also eligible, Senator Overman. Senator COLT. I may say as far as a Member of the House or of the Senate being a member of societies of that description, it might be better, since he takes part in legislation, that he should not be connected with any associations of any kind. Mr. COOLIDGE. I can see how you feel about it, Senator.
Senator COLT. I think you are in full sympathy.
Mr. COOLIDGE. And I have not undertaken to conduct a propaganda in the Congress or in the administrative branch of the Government. Perhaps they have made a mistake, but quite a number of Senators and quite a number of Representatives have voluntarily come in.
Senator COLT. I do not see how any good American can object to the constitution of your society. You have stated the fundamentals of American citizenship.
Mr. COOLIDGE. I am glad to have your sympathy, Senator, although I do not get your signature.
Senator WADSWORTH. In view of the statement of the chairman, I will disclose the fact of my membership.
Senator COLT. I think from the clear and concise manner in which Mr. Coolidge has given his testimony, he probably framed that constitution himself.
Mr. WHEELER. Mr. Chairman, I have an editorial from the Baltimore Sun, published in June last, that I would like to put into the hearing. It states the argument very clearly and expresses the popular sentiment.
Also a very able argument written by Mr. George S. Brown, of Brooklyn, N. Y., on this subject, reprinted from the Virginia Law Review, and with your permission I would be glad to have that go into the report.
Senator COLT. Very glad to have it. We would like to get all the data together in one volume.
(The matter referred to will be found printed at the end of this hearing.)
Mr. WHEELER. There are several others here who would be glad to speak, but I hardly know how long the committee feels the hearing ought to continue. It is for you to say, Mr. Chairman.
Senator COLT. Suppose you proceed and call any other witnesses you like.
Mr. WHEELER. Oscar Leser, of Baltimore, is here, and I know the committee would be glad to hear him.
STATEMENT OF MR. OSCAR LESER, REPRESENTING MARYLAND LEAGUE FOR STATE DEFENSE.
Mr. LESER. Mr. Chairman, it may perhaps be that I am produced as a witness to the horrible example of some of the lobbying methods, because I happened to be present in Tennessee at the critical moment.
You have in that incident, the action of Tennessee
Senator COLT. It is rather an unwritten rule of the Senate that nobody is allowed to criticize the action of a sovereign State, but it is not always enforced literally. Mr. LESER. I think I can show you it is not the action of a sovereign State but is the action of certain individuals pretending to act for a sovereign State.
Senator COLT. You may proceed.
Mr. LESER. That is precisely the point.
Tennessee had a constitution enacted shortly after reconstruction days in which they wrote a clause growing out of the bitter experience under the fifteenth amendment, prohibiting the legislature from ratifying any Federal amendment unless that legislature had been elected after the amendment was proposed. A similar provision exists in the constitution of the State of Florida.
When it was found that an additional State was needed to ratify the nineteenth amendment the Governor of Tennessee was prevailed on to call the legislature in special session for that purpose, and the guns were concentrated on the members of that assembly. A great argument was made in favor of the observance of that clause in the State constitution, whether it was not a binding clause; whether or not, in other words, the members of the assembly could ignore it without violating their oaths.
There nevertheless was the strong moral obligation to observe the mandate of their own constitution. They were under no mandate to act; therefore they could observe both Federal and State Constitutions by not acting.
That was the argument, but the argument did not prevail, because under pressure the legislature undertook to act.
Now, it so happens that the constitution of Tennessee provides that a quorum of the legislature shall consist of two-thirds. Rather an unusual provision. There were, I believe, 99 members of the lower house and two-thirds would be 66. On a test vote and I was present during all of this-on a test vote the vote was, I think, a majority of one in favor of taking this matter up, and there were some very suspicious and irregular goings on in connection with that. There was then a motion to reconsider that vote taken under the rules of the assembly and under the constitution; in fact, taken by the speaker of the house, the effect of which was, of course, to suspend the final effect. And notwithstanding that motion to reconsider, there was, through pressure, an accomplished effort to ignore the motion to reconsider.
The idea of the motion to reconsider was, of course, to give time for the people to consider the effect of this thing, to have a week end when the members of the assembly could go home and find out from their constituents how they felt about it. It was
the belief of well-informed persons that there was an overwhelming sentiment against ratification in Tennessee, and that proved to be the case ultimately.
In the crisis, when this matter was coming up willy-nilly, an expedient was resorted to, not for the first time, but for about the seventh time in the history of Tennessee, namely, the breaking of a quorum. It was decided that any action by a majority of the legislature would not be representative of the will of the people, and hence it was decided that the quorum should be broken; that a sufficient number of the members of the lower house should leave the State so that there would not be two-thirds to make a quorum. They left a few there to stand guard.
I sat up with them all night nearly while they were departing for Alabama, where they were received with great ceremony, and during the interval of their absence, and to the great surprise of the other side, when the house met they found only 59 men in their seats, 7 less than a quorum. They proceeded, however, to do business, and their leader argued that they were not bound, it being a Federal function and the legislature acting as the agent of the Federal Government, that the question of what was a quorum under the constitution of Tennessee did not matter; that they would be governed by Roberts's Rules of Order, or possibly by Jefferson's Manual, rather than by the constitution of Tennessee. He had prepared a written opinion to that effect, and in accordance therewith they went right through the process and declared the amendment ratified by a vote of 49 to 9, 50 being a majority of the entire assembly, but there having been no quorum present at this meeting.
It was then also arranged, incidentally, that this action should be certified by the secretary of state-all this by the consent of the governor-and sent posthaste to Washington where they were eagerly awaiting for the thirty-sixth State.
In the meantime, the quorum having been broken and these delegates being in Alabama, there was this waiting period, this cooling period-time for the folks back home to express their opinion. There was an enormous meeting in the city of Nashville and meetings throughout the State. Suffice it to say, after an interval of about a week or so, when they came back there was a complete reversal of the assembly itself. They absolutely expunged every action they took and affirmatively and definitely rejected the amendment. They went even further and procured from the secretary of state, or rather, from the governor, a certificate and sent to to the Secretary of State of the United States indicating this reversal.
But notwithstanding this, the amendment had already been proclaimed to the country as having been ratified by 36 States, including Tennessee. When that proclamation was issued the amendment had not been ratified by 36 States, and no court has ever yet declared that Tennessee ratified this amendment. The Tennessee court itself had an opportunity to say so. They did not. The Maryland court had an opportunity to say so in a case that arose in Maryland to test the validity of the nineteenth amendment, and that court refrained from saying that Tennessee had ratified, because in the meantime two other States, under the belief this thing was all over, had been forced in, and there was a ratification by Connecticut and Vermont. And finally, the Supreme Court of the United States in passing on the Maryland case did not declare that Tennessee ratified this amendment.
Senator OVERMAN. What became of the governor?
Mr. LESER. What became of the governor who was party to all this fraud? Because it was fraud, monstrous fraud on the people of Tennessee. What became of him? He was a candidate for reelection, nominated by the Democratic Party in a strongly Democratic State, and he was defeated by 40,000 majority. That is how the people of Tennessee felt about it.
If you had been a witness of that as I was, and if you had seen the will of the people flaunted right in their faces, you would feel there ought to be some kind of safeguard whereby the people of a State would be able to enforce their wishes in regard to a Federal amendment.
Ohio undertook to supply such a safeguard through permitting a referendum upon the action of the legislature. The Constitution of the United States does not tell us what is a "legislature.' I have often thought, suppose a State abolishes its legislature. I think the proposition was actually made to run the State of Kansas under a commission form of government. What then? Who would ratify these amendments? Who would determine what is the legislature of a State?
Or, suppose a State chose, which they very readily could, not to have legislatures meet except at long intervals, or never to meet unless on a petition initiated and signed by a certain number of citizens. That is within the State's own province. Of course, it cuts itself out from the opportunity to vote on amendments. But it has the right to vote for an amendment or to vote against an amendment or not to vote at all, just as the gentlemen of the Senate have the same right. They can just sit there and vote "present."
I mentioned the provisions in the Tennessee and the Florida constitutions, which are, briefly, that no legislature has the right to act until it has had a mandate from the people.
Even if it is an issue in the election, there is no real guaranty that the election expresses the will of the people, because there are other issues, and outside of all that are the accidents of legislation. And then you must remember there is the question, what is the "Legislature" of the State. The constitution does not indicate by what vote it shall act, and naturally it acts by a majority of a quorum.
In other words, a little over one-fourth of the average legislatures can ratify an amendment, a majority of a quorum being capable of committing the State.
Then it is mixed up, as I say, with all the other accidents-with the log rolling, with the lobby, and with what has not been mentioned yet at all, but a perfectly possible thing-with corruption. You can not corrupt the people of a State, but you can corrupt a handful of men. And when it comes down to one vote-you all remember the stories of the spectacular situation in West Virginia. The amendment had been defeated in West Virginia, and against the rules of the House itself there was a reconsideration. Then they sent for a man from California and held things for him until he arrived, and that decided the case.
When Lord Bryce was speaking about the difficulty of amending constitutions, he had reference to some of our State constitutions. In New Mexico, for instance, Í think there is a provision that an amendment to the constitution must receive not merely the approval of a majority of the people, but of a majority of the people in three-fourths of the counties.
In Illinois there is a provision, if I recall it correctly, which says there shall only be one amendment every five years. In Indiana there is a provision that there can only be one amendment at a time.
By conditions of that kind these people have deliberately-and foolishly, I think— hamstrung themselves. Still, it is their own affair. We can not regulate that.
I wish that in addition to the other things you are going to read, you would read the perfectly wonderful paper written by Mr. Allen Caperton Braxton, as president of the Virginia State Bar Association, and which is printed in the proceedings of that association for 1903, dealing with the methods by which the fifteenth amendment was ratified. It is an eye opener.
Senator COLT. Have you the article? Can you introduce it?
Mr. LESER. I can not introduce it. I have given you the reference to it. I have tried to get copies of it but it seems to be out of print. It is an extremely scholarly statement and it gives references to the Congressional Globe of the day, and from all the contemporary papers and records, showing by just what means the fifteenth amendment was put over on the people.
Senator OVERMAN. How can we get that?
Mr. LESER. You can get it surely from the Congressional Library.
Senator COLT. I will ask the stenographer to send to the Library and get a copy of that address and insert it in the report of the proceedings.
(The argument referred to will be found at the end of this hearing.)
Mr. LESER. It will be well worth reading. It is a wonderful argument. It describes how the fifteenth amendment was ratified by at least six of the Northern States which shortly before had rejected the proposition to introduce negro suffrage into their State constitutions. In other words, the will of the people was defeated. I think it was in Nevada where the legislature was held in session and then this amendment was telegraphed out there, and ratified, I believe, with an error in the text so that they had to do the thing over again. Perhaps this occurred in another State.
In the State of New York at the very moment when the legislature ratified the fifteenth amendment there was pending before the people of New York a proposition to amend the State constitution to permit negro suffrage. The legislature ratified the Federal amendment, but at the next ensuing November election the people rejected by an enormous vote the State amendment: and then it was that the following legislature attempted to revoke the action of the previous legislature, because nearly all the men who had voted for ratification of the fifteenth amendment were defeated, and yet Congress directed the Secretary of State to proclaim that amendment and to ignore the rejection.
(Whereupon the committee recessed until 2.30 o'clock p. m.)