Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

es !

HOW aid ne become so !

He has told the simple and alfecting story in his own memorial now lying on your table. I was in this city when the news of his unfortunate accident arrived; I witnessed the sanxiety of the public mind about his fate, and let me warn gentlemen how they too rudely pull him down from the bench: for judging from what I then saw, his downfall may excite a tide of popular indignation, deep, powerful and overwhelming.

I have often thought, that there was something strange and unaccountable in the cold indifference, and even absolute neg. lect, of the world toward meritorious and useful civil officers. You decree a triumph to him who captures a city---you crown with laurels the General who achieves for you a victory, whilst the judge who builds up and perfects your jurisprudence and administers justice in its purity to thousands, lives unrespected and dies unhonored. For myself it is not so; for I would today rear as proud a monument to the memory of a Haywood, a Crabb, and a Brown, as to that of the bravest hero that expired on the plains of New Orleans. Holding such sentiments as these, I should be recreant to honor and to justice, were I to join in this crusade against the judges. Yet I desire gentlemen, whilst l acquit them of every improper motive, to understand distinctly the reasons why I cannot go with them.

1st. Because they do not substantially change the systemthey do not even give it a new dress. "It is called, to be sure, a district court, but what signifies names? It is to be held by one judge as at present-to be held at the same places—to have the same jurisdiction, and is, to all intents and purposes, the old circuit court over again. I regard it as a disguised and fraudulent bantling, re-christened by the gentleman from Smith, with the gentlemen from Davidson and from White standing as its reputed God-fathers !

2nd. I cannot go with them, because I do verily believe we shall get worsted in the exchange. We have now eight or nine good judges and only two or three indifferent ones. I had rather stand as we are, than risk the chances of making matters worse by attempting to mend them,

Mr. Chairman, I pass over the proposition in favor of abolishing the Chancery Courts. All the different propositions

render no service adequate to the expense. They now stand as sinecure offices, which ought not to be allowed in a republican country. Such they must continue to be, unless you transfer to them all equity jurisdiction from the circuit courts. This I apprehend the people will not consent to, as they are too few in number and too sparsely scattered over the country.

Nor do I intend now to discuss at length the proposition to transfer all jury cases from the county to the circuit court. I shall ask of this committee hereafter a separate and distinct consideration of that branch of the subject, when I hope to be able to show, that such a transfer will be greatly serviceable to both plaintiffs and defendants, and calculated to lighten the taxes and diminish the expenses of litigation in every county in the State.

I proceed therefore to consider the last proposition to abolish the present Supreme Court and to build up another on its ruins. This is your court of the highest and last resort-the head and the heart of your judicial system. It is the head, because from it all the subordinate members receive their direction, and the heart, because from it proceeds every principle of vitality that pervades and strengthens the whole. You may lop away one member after another, and still the branchless trunk would live, a mutilated monument of the heedless violence of the times; but when you have once laid the axe to the root and prostrated its majestic trunk on the ground, all will be lost that rendered life secure or made liberty valuable.

Let this committee remember that no substantial alteration in the system of this court is proposed. Its name, its jurisdiction, its emoluments are the same. It is the old Supreme Court in disguise, with but little to conceal its identity. Gentlemen have only muttered a few cabalistic words, and the presen court has disappeared and a new one has risen in its place, with nothing to distinguish it but a new set of judges! Is such pretended magic consistent with the constitution of the State ?The 2nd section of the 5th article declares, the General Assembly shall by joint ballot of both houses appoint judges of the several courts of law and equity, who shall hold their respective offices during good behaviour--not so long as they may remain

during their good behaviour. Sir, I throw no peculiar sanctity around our judges, I am no advocate for them as individuals. and would never consent to keep up uscless or unnecessary offices for their benefit; but I maintain that sccording to the spirit and intention of the constitution, we have no right to abolish a necessary and useful office for the purpose of getting clear of obnoxious incumbents. If the Legislature possess this right, then our judiciary can no longer be regarded as independent. The judges continue in office, not during their good behaviour, but during the will and pleasure of the General Assembly. If it were intended that they should hold their offices by so frail a tenure as this, why so much caution in providing for their removal by impeachment? Why so carefully provide, not that a majority, but that two thirds of the Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, should be necessary to conviction ? Now all these safe guards have been erected in vain, if the Legi lature can, in this summary way, remove the judges at its pleasure.

A precedent for doing so has been drawn from the removal of the midnight judges of the elder Adams. There is not the slightest resemblance between the cases. The Federal party had changed the system--they had established a separate Supreme Court to be holden by a distinct set of judges, and to find employment for their favorites, had required the district courts to be holden, not by one, but by a plurality of judges. The Republican party, coming into power the very next day, were of opinion that the change was an improper and unnecessary one, and therefore repealed it at once and restored to the country the former system. They were abolishing useless and unnecessary offices, and the incumbents necessarily fell with them. Besides, sir, if the history of those times were examined, which I have not done for many years, it would very probably be found, that no commissions were ever actually delivered, or any oath of qualification ever administered to those new judges-however this may be, the repeal can be justified on the most correct principles without referring it to the party exci:einents of the day. The repeal of the old district court, in 1809, and the establishment of the present Circuit and Supreme Court system

two cases. The whole organization of the courts was changed, and not the slightest inclination manifested to wage a personal war against the judges. The effect of such a warfare must always be disastrous, and if the doctrines so earnestly advocated on the other side should finally prevail, then indeed as has been said, we shall find ourselves far at sea, without a chart and without a compass-every wave will carry us further from safety and every breeze of popular commotion, will but hasten our destruction. Your judges, standing solitary and unsupported, are obliged to be overpowered--they have been so in this present controversy. The cry of their destruction has gone forth, and to escape their pursuers they have fled to the constitutionyes, they have fled to that as the city of refuge, and are now standing and holding to the horns of the altar. I implore gentlemen not to pursue them further, nor pollute the sanctuary by staining it with their blood. But, sir, I believe that I am imploring in vain; I believe that a majority of this house is determined to accomplish this work of destruction. They have seized, like the strong man of old, on the pillars of the constitution, and are determined to pull it down on our heads. If it must be so, I will not fly for safety, but call on every friend to the constitution and an independent judiciary, to stand by each other to the last, and let us be buried in its ruins.

ADDRESS, Delivered at Pulaski, by A. V. Brown, to his constituen's on his

return from the culled session of the Legislature of 1832.

GENTLEMEN AND Fellow Citizens: I am induced to address you on the present occasion, in order to respond to the frequent enquiries made as to what course I shall probably pursue in the next elections. On my return from the Legislature, I disovered that so many of my political friends were expecting me to offer for another station, that I came to the determination not to be again a candidate for the General Assembly. Having communicated this fact to a few individuals, I wish now to make a public declaration of it, in order that all who desire to become candidates, may have early and fair notice.

In taking leave of you as your representative, I beg leave to trespass awhile on your patience, in reviewing some of the most prominent subjects connected with my late service. It is most common for public men to address you on subjects that lie in prospective-aspiring to win your favor, they attempt to lift the curtain of futurity, and to please your imaginations with the brightest visions which genius and fancy in their highest revelry can possibly create. I have no such splendid prospects, however, to lay before you--my business now is with the past - not the future; to lay before your understandings, not your passions, a true and just account of all my conduct as your pnblic agent. I am the more ready to render that account, from a deep and thorough conviction, that during no period of my public life have I better sustained your interest and maintained your rights, than during the two last sessions of the General Assembly.

« AnteriorContinuar »