« PředchozíPokračovat »
of the majority of both Houses of Congress, from being extended. Congress dissented from the policy of President Tyler, and rejected his measures ; but he found the means of carrying on his government, in spite of their opposition to his general policy. We see, therefore, in this silent reception of the Mes. sage, another illustration of the fact that, under a democratic Government, the head of the State, wielding the powers of that Government, can for a period of four years counteract and effectually resist the popular opinion as expressed in its two Houses of Legislature. Supposing it possible, which it is not, that a parallel case should exist in this country, the ministry of the Earl of Derby would have remained in office until the 27th of February, 1856, and the question of protection would have been still agitating the public mind in England.
A common, though superficial, criticism upon the speeches delivered at the opening of each session of Parliament by the Crown, on
the responsibility of the ministry, is, that they are too short and too indefinite.
If they are sufficiently definite to convey the announcement of the general principles of the ministerial policy, and of the measures it purposes submitting to the Legislature, they convey all that is required to enable either House, if it considers that the public interests require it, at once to declare itself hostile to or disposed towards that policy. To commit the Crown to details in any such announcement is obviously undesirable, inasmuch as the details of measures belong more particularly to the deliberative bodies by whom these measures will be fully considered. And it is equally obvious that the ministerial exposition, when the measure is presented to either House, can and does go much further into detail than any “ message" can possibly do, however lengthy; and at a time when it is most convenient for the purposes of discussion that those details should be laid before the House and the public.
POWERS OF CONGRESS.
With two or three exceptions, the matters falling within the jurisdiction of Congress are the same as those that are within the province of the Legislature of this country. The first exception to be noticed respects the important article of taxation. In this the powers of Congress are limited. They extend only to the specific objects of “paying the debts and providing for the common defence and welfare of the United States” (sect. 8, clause 1). “A tax, therefore, laid by Congress for neither of these objects would be unconstitutional, and in excess of its legislative authority.”* The power of taxation for all other purposes except nose mentioned remains in the several State
Legislatures. In the adjustment of these powers between the general Government and that of the different States many questions arose, which are discussed at length by Mr. Justice Story, but they have little practical bearing beyond the limits of that country.
The more important exception in a general point of view relates to the power of declaring war. This power, which with us is the exclusive prerogative of the Crown, is placed by the Constitution of the United States in the hands of Congress. By the article above quoted Congress is empowered “to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.”
The object in view, according to Mr. Justice Story, in placing the power of making war in the hands of the two Houses of Congress, instead of intrusting it to the President, was “ to make it more difficult to declare war.” “ War being in its nature and effects so critical and calamitous, it requires the utmost deliberation, and the successive review of all
the councils of the nation.”* It was proposed at the time of the framing of the Constitution, that as promptitude of action, as well as wisdom, were required on such critical occasions as may justify war, it would be more expedient to place the power of declaring it in the Senate alone ; a body composed of men of great “weight, sagacity, and experience.”* But the argument prevailed that it would be desirable to interpose delay, by requiring the consent of the bodies more directly representing the mass of the people, who would have to pay the taxes incident to war.
Mr. Justice Story is of opinion that the restriction might have been usefully extended still further; that “the Executive who is to carry it on" ought to have a voice in deter. mining whether it ought to be entered upon at all. And he adds, that “there might be a propriety in enforcing still greater restrictions, as, by requiring a concurrence of twothirds of both Houses ;"* for in his opinion the history of republics has but too fatally
* § 1171.