« PředchozíPokračovat »
The common course was to pass only on such written accusations as others might submit to their consideration. These were called bills of indictment. If the grand jury believed that there were sufficient grounds for upholding any of them, their foreman endorsed it as “A true bill,” and it then became an indictment. If, on the other hand, they rejected a bill of indictment as unfounded, the foreman indorsed it as “Not a true bill,” or with the Latin term “Ignoramus," and this was the end of it.
The organization and functions of the American grand jury are similar, except that here we have prosecuting attorneys to procure the presence of the necessary witnesses and direct the course of their examination. In the Federal courts almost all criminal accusations, great or small, are, and by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States all charges of infamous crimes must be, prosecuted by presentment or indictment. In most of the States the intervention of a grand jury is requisite only in case of serious offenses; in some only in capital cases. It is obvious that it is less needed here than in England, since here it is not within the power of any private individual to institute criminal proceedings against another at his own will, but they are brought by a public officer commissioned for that very purpose and acting under the grave sense of responsibility which such authority is quite sure to carry with it. The grand jury, however, has its plain uses wherever political feeling leads to public disorder.— Simeon E. Baldwin, “ The American Judiciary,” p. 235.
tended during recent years. As social conditions become more complex, as industrial organization becomes more intricate and far-reaching, and the stratification of society into economic classes more pronounced, the state is more and more called upon to interfere in what were formerly private activities. The private educational institution of yesterday becomes the public institution of today. The private corporation becomes affected with a public interest and is converted into a quasi-public corporation or gives way to public ownership. Free competition breaks down and state regulation steps in. And thus the functions of the state are gradually enlarged — railways, telephones, telegraphs, waterpowers, packers, breakfast food manufacturers, grocerymen, druggists, plumbers — all become subject to the ever-widening supervision of the state.
For convenience in discussion, these functions of the state have been grouped here in four classes : (1) Those exercised under and in close connection with the police power; (2) those related to crime and its treatment; (3) those connected with public education; and (4) those of an economic character.
The police functions embrace all those activities engaged in by the state to maintain peace and order, to preserve public safety, to promote public health, and to protect public morals.
(1) Peace and Order. The activity of the state in this connection has already been suggested in the preceding pages, and need only be mentioned here. It passes laws regulating public conduct, defines and punishes crime, maintains jails and penitentiaries, suppresses riots and public disturbances, and does all those things necessary to the enforcement of law and the maintenance of peace and order throughout the state. The agencies through which these are performed are the courts and the police forces of the state — policemen in cities, constables in towns, the sheriff in the county, and the state militia ? — and if the extent of the disturbances warrant, the federal troops. These functions are all examples of what would be popularly called the exercise of the police power. But the police power of the state extends to an infinitely broader field.2
(2) Public Safety. Under the police power, the state enacts laws and regulations designed to preserve public safety and comfort. It prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons; it forbids the sale of poisonous drugs unless labeled poison; it prohibits the keeping of explosives in dangerous quantities; it regulates the construction of buildings by limiting their height and prescribing the thickness of walls, number of exits and fire-escapes, and the nature of the plumbing; it forbids the running of animals at large; it orders the muzzling of dogs and the killing of those affected with rabbies and other diseases; it limits the speed of automobiles; it regulates traffic on public highways; it requires safeguards for railroad crossings, safety devices for factories, the examination of steam engineers, and the inspection of boilers and elevators; and in innumerable ways protects life and property from injury and destruction.
(3) Public Health. Many of the functions of the state in the promotion of public health are delegated to the local authorities, but every commonwealth maintains a state health department to supervise their administration, and to enforce the observation of sanitary regulations. It regulates the establishment of quarantine; keeps statistics of births and deaths; prohibits the sale of unwholesome and adulterated foods; forbids the importation of diseased cattle, and inspects and kills those affected with tuberculosis; forbids the use of public drinking cups on trains and in public buildings; prescribes the care of contagious diseases; and enforces many other regulations designed to insure and promote the general health and sanitation of the state. Many states maintain hospitals for the treatment of contagious diseases. During the last few years a great movement has been started to establish tuberculosis sanitoria, and many states now maintain such institutions for the prevention and cure of those affected with the “Great White Plague.” Several states have established state tenement house departments for the supervision of housing conditions within the state, and by law to insure proper lighting and air as well as sanitary facilities. A great many states also regulate the conditions of employment to insure wholesome working conditions, protection from poisonous fumes, and the removal of dust and other substances deleterious to the health of employes.
(4) Public Morals. The state is also interested in the protection of public morals. Nearly all states have laws forbidding the use of profane language, the circulation of obscene literature, indecent exposure and unbecoming conduct on the streets or other public places. All states prohibit prostitution, although the laws are not always strictly enforced. Laws in all states prohibit gambling and other immoral amusements, suppress lotteries, forbid cruelty to animals, and endeavor to prevent practices that tend to lower the general moral tone of the community. Of such a nature are the laws requiring the closing of business houses on Sunday, and regulating the liquor traffic.3 Most states impose a heavy excise tax on the sale of liquor and require a license for saloons. Nine states now prohibit the manufacture and sale of intoxicating