Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

a

the original states in all respects whatsoever," specifically required that its constitution should not be repugnant to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, that perfect religious toleration should be secured, and that the land belonging to non-resident citizens of the United States should not be taxed higher than the lands of residents.

The Supreme Court has declared, in a case involvirg limitations on Illinois, that “whatever the limitation upon her powers as a government whilst in a territorial condition, whether from the Ordinance of 1787, or the legislation of Congress, it ceased to have any operative force except as voluntarily adopted by her after she became a state of the Union. On her admission she at once became entitled to and possessed of all the rights of dominion and sovereignty which belonged to the original states. She was admitted and could be admitted only on the same footing with them."Beard, op. cit., p. 443.

8 State Obligations.— The most important duty of the state is to remain in the Union. Long before the Civil War, the socalled “ doctrine of state rights” was worked out to its logical consequence,- that the sovereign rights of the state have never been surrendered, and may legally be protected by forcible withdrawal from the Union. The basis of state rights and secession is the same,, namely, the assumption that the states are and always have been sovereign, independent, and free to dissolve a voluntary union.

To settle a question of that nature on theoretical ground is difficult; but in practice no state in the Union has ever been sovereign, except Texas. No one of the thirteen original states ever made a treaty for itself, or a foreign war on its own account; throughout the Revolution all the states acknowledged a responsibility for the common national funded debt and paper money; they all united in making a national army and navy, and in appointing national officers to command; during the weak Confederation the states admitted the sole authority of Congress to negotiate treaties, to coin money, and to do many other important acts. Even during the secession era of 1861-1865, no one of the seceding states ever really acted independently: at the earliest moment they went into a confederation which directed

a

9

their joint affairs during the war. In the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in passing on the Reconstruction acts, no one of the states was ever outside the territory or jurisdiction of the federal government after admission within the Union. Chief Justice Chase called it “ an indestructible union, composed of indestructible states."

Practically, the result of the Civil War was to make it plain that a large proportion of the American people disbelieved the doctrine of state sovereignty, and that any body of states which in the future may attempt to assert that doctrine by actual secession will have to fight the rest of the states. Henceforth nobody can for a moment suppose that there can be such a thing as peaceful secession. Yet the states do retain a large number of absolute and undoubted rights. Consolidation of the Union would be almost as great a misfortune as disunion.— Hart, op. cit., p. 123.

9 Scope of State Powers.— A moment's thought suffices to reveal how very great a field of activity, how preponderant a part remains under our system to the states. The powers of the federal government seem great by enumeration. Besides being intrinsically powers of the greatest importance, they are made the more imposing in the Constitution by the fact of their being set forth in an exhaustive list. The residuum of powers that remains to the states, consisting as it does of unenumerated items, is vague, and because vague seems unimportant by comparison. A moment's examination of this residuum, however, a moment's consideration of its contents, puts a very different face on the matter. It is worth while for the sake of an adequate understanding of the real division of powers under our government to give to the powers remaining with the states something like the same setting forth that is given to those granted to the Union.

All the civil and religious rights of our citizens depend upon state legislation; the education of the people is in the care of the states; with them rests the regulation of the suffrage; they prescribe the rules of marriage, and the legal relations of husband and wife, of parent and child; they determine the powers of masters over servants and the whole law of principal and agent, which is so vital a matter in all business transactions; they regulate partnership, debt and credit, and insurance; they constitute all corporations, both private and municipal, except such as specially fulfill the financial or other specific functions of the federal government; they control the possession, distribution, and use of property, the exercise of trades, and all contract relations ; and they formulate and administer all criminal law, except only that which concerns crimes committed against the United States, on the high seas, or against the law of nations. Space would fail in which to enumerate the particular items of this vast range of power; to detail its parts would be to catalogue all social and business relationships, to set forth all the foundations of law and order.— Il'oodrow Wilson, The State," p. 471, 473.

A striking illustration of the preponderant part played by state law under our system is supplied in the surprising fact that only one out of the dozen greatest subjects of legislation which have engaged the public mind in England during the present century would have come within the powers of the federal government under the Constitution as it stood before the war, only two under the Constitution as it stands since the addition of the war amendments. I suppose that I am justified in singling out as these twelve greatest subjects of legislation the following: Catholic emancipation, parliamentary reform, the abolition of slavery, the amendment of the poor-laws, the reform of municipal corporations, the repeal of the corn laws, the admission of the Jews to Parliament, the disestablishment of the Irish church, the alteration of the Irish land laws, the establishment of national education, the introduction of the ballot, and the reform of the criminal law. Of these every one except the corn laws and the abolition of slavery would have been under our system, so far as they could be dealt with at all, subjects for state regulation entirely; and it was only by constitutional amendment made in recognition of the accomplished facts of the war that slavery, which was formerly a question reserved for state action, and for state action alone, was brought within the field of the federal authority.- Woodrow Wilson, The State," P. 473.

CHAPTER VI

THE ORGANIZATION OF STATE GOVERNMENT

TH HE organization of state government in general is the same in every state.

It consists of three separate and theoretically independent departments, the executive, legislative, and judicial, each of which is supposed to act as a check upon the others, thereby guaranteeing to the citizens freedom from tyranny and oppression. As a matter of fact, the departments never have been entirely independent of each other, being bound together by party ties and overlapping in function; but the freedom of the American people has never been seriously threatened by this shortcoming. The kind of protection needed having changed from protection against a tyrannical government to governmental protection against industrial combinations which threaten the economic freedom of the people, this departmental independence has turned out to be too effective in tying the hands of the government. What is needed now is more opportunity for action, rather than more effective checks and balances, more coöperation between the branches of government.

But although the theory upon which our state gove ernments were founded has long since been discarded, and the old theory of the separation of powers has given way to a theory of official responsibility, the actual organization of the machinery has been modified but little. The organization of each of these three departments will be noted in turn.

I. The State Executive In all states there is a chief executive officer called the governor, who in all states except Mississippi is elected by popular vote. To be eligible to the office of governor, most states require that the candidate be at least thirty years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the state for a certain length of time, usually five years.

In about half of the states he is elected for a term of four years, and in most other states for a term of two years. In New Jersey, however, the term is three years, and in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, one year. The present tendency is favorable to the longer term, and even in those states having a short term it is the practice to reëlect the incumbent to a second term. In a few states reëlection is forbidden by the constitution, the fear being that a governor eligible to reëlection might be able to build up a political machine and thereby perpetuate himself in office. The salary of the governor ranges from $2,500 to $10,000 per year, the average salary being $5,000. New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California pay $10,000, and Illinois pays $12,000. In addition to the annual salary many states provide

« PředchozíPokračovat »