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against the people in the choice of President and VicePresident.”
Notwithstanding all this elaboration of reciprocal checks and interlocking vetoes, the National Government has steadily extended its influence as against the State Governments. The State Governments, notwithstanding that they retain the powers not expressly disposed of otherwise, have exhibited no principle of growth. The National Government, of which the powers are enumerated, has steadily grown. The result suggests some reflections on the futility of a discussion with which we in this country are familiar, whether the status of a subordinate Parliament should be limited by the definition of the powers that are granted, or by the definition of those that are withheld. In the American Constitution it is the Parliament of express limitations that has waxed strong ; the Parliament of indefinite powers that has by comparison grown weak. The same conclusion is suggested by the fact that, in the Territorial Governments the grant of power is indefinite, while the sphere of attempted action has shown no tendency to expand. As between the State and the nation the whole secret lies in the possession by the latter of the last word in any possible controversy about the extent of its powers. The “implied powers” of the Constitution have in the hands of the National Courts proved adequate to establishing the supremacy of the National
* Letter of John Adam to John Taylor, quoted by Cooley, Const. Prin., 141.
Government, the moral justification of which is the slowly but surely established predominance of national feeling. The practical issue has been to “bring home to every man's door the Federal Government as no less than his own State Government his immediate over-lord. That is not a foreign, but a familiar and domestic government, whose officer is your next-door neighbour, whose representative you deal with every day at the post-office and the custom-house, whose courts sit in your own State, and send their own marshals into your own county to arrest your own fellow-townsmen, or to call you yourself by writ to their witness-stands." *
While the National Government as a whole has thus established itself as against the States, the Parliamentary portion of it-Congress—has asserted and maintained its own predominance as against the executive and the judiciary, so that its position in the State system has been likened to that of the House of Commons in our own.
But neither as between Congress and the co-ordinate powers, nor as between the National and the State Governments, has the original framework of the Constitution disappeared. While the relative share of each of the elements has proved to be different from the expectations of the founders of the system, not one of them has grown out of the character of its original conception. The House of Commons is wholly transformed from its earlier exemplars, but Congress, how
* Wilson's “ Congressional Government,” p. 26.
ever widely its sphere has been extended, still remains a boly of limited powers, and the State Legislatures, notwithstanding the restrictions devised by the Federal courts, still remain the source of all the ordinary law governng the elementary relations of life and securing the maintenance of social order.
The balance between the two powers is maintained chiefly by the action of the Federal judiciary. No such intervention is possible when supreme power is vested, as it is with us, in the Central Government, or rather no udicial authority can be set up to pass judgment on the decrees of the supreme Parliament. To that extent the American practice has no instruction for us; bu on the broad question of enforcing the restrictions imposed on a limited Legislature, the American practice is a powerful argument for the use of judicial nachinery.
As to the relation between the Executive and the Legislature, the American example is throughout in favour of the independence of the former. Both in State and nition the government is carried on by a Legislature and an Executive which is neither dependent on, nor responsible to the Legislature. But while the Americanpractice on this point is a useful reminder that there is no necessity under a Government of limited powers for the Executive being dependent on the Legislature, it is ful of warning against the possible dangers of executive independence. Both in State and nation the chief conplaint is of the dissipation of official responsibility and the evil is greater in the States thán
in the National Government, and is greatest in those which have most generally adopted the practice of direct popular election to official posts. In some States every officer of importance is chosen by a popular vote, and every officer so chosen is of course responsible only to his electors. The State treasurer or secretary, or other officer, not only has no relations with the Legislature, but has no responsible relations with his own superiors in office. Legislatures meeting for short and fixed periods, which can neither be accelerated nor delayed, are not well fitted for that never-ceasing control of the Executive which is the main element in Parliamentary government; and, so far as one sees, there is no demand in he United States for this sort of Parliamentary contrd. But the opposite extreme, in which there is no control at all, not even by the elected head of the Executive, is the subject of much complaint.
Again, it is obvious from what has teen said in previous pages, that not only in its contol over the Executive, but even in its own proper business of lawmaking, the Legislature, and especially the State Legislature, is far from being intrusted with a full measure of power. Nothing is more remarkable than the extent to which great subjects of legislation are, whether by local or national restrictiors, withdrawn from the consideration of the Legislatures altogether.
If any justification were needed for this attitude of jealousy and distrust on the part of the people, it would be found in the legislative methods which have
somehow established themselves. Despotism and secrecy mark the ways of the Chambers, and add to the facilities for heedless and for unscrupulous legislation.
On the other hand, the limitation of legislative capacity, the reservation of some subjects for the people themselves, and the exclusion of others from the sphere of legislation altogether, result in a certain paralysis of the public will. In the dual system of the United States—each man living under two governments, neither of which is absolutely supreme—some loss of promptitude in governmental action is unavoidable; but it has been greatly increased by restrictions superimposed on the Governments without any necessity arising from the essential nature of the system. There cannot be such an instantaneous response of the powers of Government to the mood of the people as there may be under the British system, which limits the omnipotence of its Parliament only by the possibility that it may at any moment be brought to a summary end.
This account of the legal and constitutional system of the United States might, particularly with reference to its main object, be usefully supplemented by some notice of the political methods observed in its administration. Legal institutions cover only part of the political life of a nation : a large part of it is ordered by principles and habits which have no legal basis. To one or two of these a brief reference may here be made.