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If Congress, however, may in addition entirely suspend the operation of the inter-State-commerce clause upon a lawful subject of inter-State commerce and turn the regulation of inter-State commerce over to the States in respect to it, it is difficult to see how it may not suspend inter-State commerce in respect to every subject of commerce wherever the police power of the State can be exercised to hinder or obstruct that commerce. I can not think that the framers of the Constitution, or that the people who adopted it, had in mind for a moment that Congress could thus nullify the operation of a clause whose useful effect was deemed so important and which in fact has contributed so much to the solidarity of the Nation and the prosperity that has followed unhampered, nation-wide trade.
But it is said that this is a question with which the Executive or Members of Congress should not burden themselves to consider or decide. It is said that it should be left to the Supreme Court to say whether this proposed act violates the Constitution. I dissent utterly from this proposition. The oath which the chief Executive takes, and which each Member of Congress takes, does not bind him any less sacredly to observe the Constitution than the oaths which the Justices of the Supreme Court take. It is questionable whether the doubtful constitutionality of a bill ought not to furnish a greater reason for voting against the bill, or vetoing it, than for the court to hold it to be invalid. The court will only declare a law invalid where its unconstitutionality is clear, while the lawmaker may very well hesitate to vote for a bill if of doubtful constitutionality, because of the wisdom of keeping clearly within the fundamental law. The custom of legslators and executives having any legislative functions to remit to the courts entire and ultimate responsibility as to the constitutionality of the measures which they take part in passing is an abuse which tends to put the court constantly in opposition to the Legislature and Executive, and, indeed, to the popular supporters of unconstitutional laws. If, however, the legislators and the executives had attempted to do their duty, this burden of popular disapproval would have been lifted from the courts, or at least considerably lessened.
For these reasons, and in spite of the popular approval of this bill, I have not felt justified in signing it, because I feel that under principles of proper constitutional construction it violates the inter-State commerce clause of our fundamental law.
I am sustained in the view I have taken by the judgment and opinion of Attorney-General Wickersham, which contains an elaborate discussion of the question and considers in detail the issues which have been raised in the congressional debates and elsewhere. WM. H. TAFT.
THE WHITE HOUSE, February 28, 1913.
EX-SECRETARY NAGEL'S OPINION.
In an article in the American Leader upon the Webb Liquor Law, passed over President Taft's veto at the last session of Congress, Charles Nagel, ex-Secretary of Commerec and Labor, says in part:
"Broadly speaking, this law provides that when liquors or
other beverages are shipped from one State into another they shall immediately upon crossing the border of the second State become subject to the laws and regulations of that State. The constitutional question which is here presented has been the subject of legislation and judicial decision for many years, and it is safe to assume that but for the sentiment which has been aroused against traffic in liquor, Congress would not have been willing to commit itself to so doubtful a proposition of constitutional principle as has found expression in this law.
"The Webb law is significant chiefly as a pioneer for further legislation upon similar lines. If national authority proposes to give effect to the police power of a State, even when the statutes of the State are in conflict with the police of the nation in case of liquors and beverages, why not in respect to other articles?
"The Webb bill was enacted as a liquor law, and unfortunately has been so regarded. In fact, it is a regulation of inter-State commerce of the widest application. If this law stands, the possibilities of its extension are without limit. The power of Congress to regulate inter-State commerce may be resolved into an abject surrender of that authority. The failure to exercise that power may result in a virtual delegation of national authority to the several State jurisdictions. The consequence would be commercial chaos."
Since the convening of the Sixty-Third Congress in Special Session, on the 7th day of April, 1913; the following bills have been introduced and are now pending before the various Committees:
S. 471.-Mr. Gronna, North Dakota; Committee on Pacific Islands & Porto Rico: "To prohibit selling of intoxicating liquors in the Territory of Hawaii."
S. 1,028.—Mr. Crawford, South Dakota; Inter-State Commerce Committee: "Prohibiting issuance of special tax receipts, etc."
S. 1,620.-Mr. Sheppard, Texas; Foreign Relations Committee: "Providing for representation of the United States in the Fourteenth International Congress on Alcoholism." Passed Senate May 22nd; House August 26th.
S. J. Res. 50.—Mr. Works, California; Judiciary Committee: "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and importation of distilled liquor containing alcohol except for mechanical, scientific and medicinal purposes, under proper regulation by Congress."
H. R. 181.
Mr. Humphreys, Mississippi; Ways and Means Committee: "To prevent payment of special tax on retail liquor dealers under assumed or fictitious names, etc."
H. R. 182. Mr. Humphreys, Mississippi; Ways and Means Committee: "To increase the tax on beer and playing cards."
H. R. 1,992.-Mr. Barkley; Judiciary Committee: "Prohibiting the issuance of permits, license, or receipts for special tax authorizing sale of intoxicating liquors, etc."
H. R. 2,121.-Mr. Clark, Florida; Ways and Means Committee: "To prohibit receipt of money by internal revenue officials of United States in payment of special taxes by dealers in intoxicating liquors, except in certain cases, etc."
H. R. 2,875.-Mr. Goodwin, Arkansas; Ways and Means Committee: "Concerning issuance of special-tax stamps for sale of intoxicating liquors in prohibition territory."
H. J. Res. 12.—Mr. Hobson, Alabama; Judiciary Committee: "Proposing amendment to Constitution prohibiting sale, manufacture for sale, and importation for sale of beverages containing alcohol."
H. R. 4,385.-Mr. Vaughan, Texas; Ways and Means Committee: "To increase tax on distilled spirits and tax on beer, lager beer, ale, porter, etc., produced in United States to equal the customs tax levied on such liquors imported, to produce revenue for the Government, and for other purposes.'
H. R. 6,216.—Mr. Candler, Mississippi; Alcoholic Liquor Traffic Committee: "To prevent sale of intoxicating liquor in any ship, naval station, or building used, controlled or owned by United States."
H. J. Res. 117.-Mr. Hobson, Alabama; August 5th, 1913; Judiciary Committee: "Proposing an amendment to Constitution prohibiting the sale or the manufacture for sale and importation for sale of beverage or foods containing alcohol."
During the past two years the brewers in many localities have joined with the forces that are working for civic betterment in an effort to close disorderly and disreputable places where alcoholic beverages are retailed. That the movement has met with a great deal of progress is attested by such organizations as the Committee of Fourteen of New York, the National Municipal League, and by many men in positions of authority who speak from knowledge of results. We are not, however, satisfied with the progress that has been made. It is checked in some places by political corruption or misgovernment, and in others by the lack of harmony, or thorough organization among brewers and retailers, and in yet other places by hasty legislation to prevent brewers from interesting themselves directly or indirectly in the retail trade. We believe that this is a mistaken public policy, and that the more the brewer is
concerned in the retail trade, the more clearly he will feel his responsibility for it, and take aggressive action to rid it of all objectionable features. We urge our members to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the character of their customers, and with the places they operate, and to work together to eliminate saloons from the residence districts, and to reduce their number as speedily as possible to correspond with the reasonable convenience of the public, so that the evils which are attendant upon over-competition may cease to exist.
The active work of this Association is indicated in the reports of our Standing Committees, for which your special consideration is desired. They represent a large amount of fruitful work most faithfully performed.
The Advisory Committee has had an unusually large correspondence with reference to labels and new Federal and State laws relating to weights and measures, and other technical matters. We desire to express our appreciation of the courteous manner in which Dr. Alsberg and his associates of the United States Bureau of Chemistry have assisted our members in their efforts to conform to the spirit as well as the letter of the Food and Drugs Act. Alsberg's attitude has been rigidly exact, but he has been perfectly frank and fair, and has spared no trouble in the matter. We have submitted a large number of labels to him for his opinion, and they have received prompt and thorough consideration.
The report of the Vigilance Committee gives the history of State legislation relating to the brewing trade during the past year, together with the general trend of "wet" and "dry" elections. In all well-settled communities the sentiment for licensed regulation rather than prohibition, appears to be increasing. It is perhaps too early to venture conclusions in regard to the influence of women's votes, but so far the women have shown good judgment in standing for the well-regulated retail sale of alcoholic beverages under proper conditions of control; while their attitude with regard to disorderly
places has proved beneficial to the community, and incidentally to the brewing trade.
We call special attention to the report of the Publication Committee and its recommendation which we trust will receive your most careful attention. The work upon which it is engaged must have the support of brewers in their several localities, if it is to be effective.
The Labor Committee has had an unusually busy year, owing to the fact that a large number of labor contracts expired between January and June. Slowly, but surely, employers and employees in the brewing industry at least, are coming to understand each other better, and are finding that the best way to reconcile any differences that come up is to get together through their representatives, and talk the matter over, and then if necessary hold an arbitration. The new conciliation board in St. Louis is a most hopeful sign, and we trust that both the brewers and the unions will study it with sympathetic interest.
The Membership Committee has done a great deal of active work in endeavoring to secure every brewer in the United States as a member of this Association. It is hard to see how any man who really knows what our trade problems are, and what is being done to solve them by the United States Brewers' Association, can fail to avail himself of the privilege of membership. We venture to say that there is no other great industry or branch of commerce in the United States that is more efficiently served by a national trade organization than is the brewing industry. The work of this Association is being carefully watched and studied by the leaders in commerce and industry, because of its record and achievements.
CROP IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE.
The Crop Improvement Committee has made marked progress during the past year, and is laying its work upon a sure foundation with a view to bringing our raw materials up to the highest possible