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Senator Jones of Washington. Let me suggest in that connection that I would like to hear with reference to the peculiar language of the Constitution in regard to the power of Congress over the District of Columbia. The Constitution by express language gives us exclusive control over the District f Columbia.
Senator COPELAND. In determining that question I would be glad if Mr. Whiteford would point out to us whether or not by that exclusive control over the District of Columbia we were given more power
than the States reserved to themselves in their right to legislate for the people in the individual States. Here, as the Senator from Washington suggests, is a specific statement in the Constitution that Congress has this power to legislate for the District of Columbia. As I have thought about that I have wondered whether or not it did confer such power upon Congress, by reason of the fact that the Capital is located here and the employees of the Government are here in numbers of 70,000 or 80,000, and whether or not it was intended by the author of that provision of the Constitution to confer unusual or extraordinary powers upon Congress as regards the control of the District.
Mr. WHITEFORD. All constitutional rights still apply to a resident of the District. Congress would not have a right to legislate with respect to the District taking away from a resident of the District the rights he would have under the Constitution.
Senator COPELAND. I am perfectly clear that in my State and probably in any other State we could not enact legislation such as this as permanent legislation. I think it could be founded only upon an emergency.
Representative BLANTON. The Constitution gives the Government no more power over the District than it does over the rights of the people of the respective States.
Senator COPELAND. I wonder if you are right?
Representative BLANTON. It just reserves the same rights here in the District that the States have over their people.
Mr. WHITEFORD. Those rights are reserved to the State legislatures in the respective States.
Senator JONES of Washington. I think it goes further than that. I think it embraces all the power both under the National Constitution and under the State constitutions.
Representative BLANTON. That is right.
Senator Jones of Washington. That is vested in Congress. The question is how far that will let us go in the District of Columbia in this matter.
Senator COPELAND. Do you believe that in your State in the absence of an emergency the legislature could enact such a bill into law ?
Senator JONES of Washington. Well, I do not know. Of course we have in our State legislature all that power which is not reserved to the National Government. My view is that in the District of Columbia we have all the power reserved to the National Government and all the powers given to a State.
Mr. WHITEFORD. But you are still bound by the provisions of the Constitution.
Senator Jones of Washington. Oh, certainly.
Mr. WHITEFORD. I will present a memorandum to the committee or take a part of the time allotted to us in oral argument and cite some of the decisions of our courts.
Representative HAMMER. Your opinion is and the courts have declared that the Constitution has given to Congress the same power which it gives to the States to legislate; in other words, that the Constitution does not clothe Congress with any more power than it does a State legislature. They can not go any further under the police power of the Constitution than a State. Is that your idea?
Mr. WHITEFORD. Yes, sir. I do not think you can go any further under the police power than a State legislature.
Representative HAMMER. I want to call your attention to a brief with which we were furnished here and which is set out beginning at page 42 of our hearings. I have not yet read it, but I have consulted the authorities last year a great deal on the question of the constitutionality of such legislation. This question is fully gone into in that brief. There is an analysis of the power of Congress first to enact legislation for the District of Columbia, and that is gone into pretty fully. I would like to have you take the time to read that and then show us wherein this brief has arrived at an incorrect conclusion. You can help us very materially by doing that. The brief seems to cover the situation pretty well from the viewpoint of those who say it is constitutional to enact such legislation.
Representative BLANTON. Mr. Petty, your organization represents only the realtors of the city?
Mr. PETTY. Yes, sir.
Representative BLANTON. And any views that you would give here would not be the views in behalf of the property owners of the District ?
Mr. PETTY. No.
Representative BLANTON. Only as to your own organization, comprised of realtors?
Mr. PETTY. Yes.
Representative BLANTON. Does a realtor make more money renting property or selling it? Mr. Petty. Selling it.
Representative BLANTON. Is the big money that is made in connection with real estate made from commissions on sales of property?
Mr. PETTY. Absolutely.
Representative BLANTON. Is it not a fact that from the standpoint of the personal interest, the rental legislation that has been in force now since the Saulsbury Act was passed has been a bonanza to the realtors of the District because it has caused hundreds of houses to be sold which otherwise might not have been sold? Is not that the fact?
Mr. Petty. There is no doubt that it caused hundreds of houses to be sold that otherwise would not have been sold.
Representative BLANTOX. Had it not been for the strict rental legislation they would not have been sold?
Mr. PETTY. Yes.
Representative BLANTON. Then the rental law, from the personal interest standpoint, has been a benefit to the realtor so far as bring. ing money into his pockets is concerned ? Mr. PETTY. To those who were selling houses it would be.
Mr. WHITEFORD. Mr. Chairman, we have present here Mr. Edwards, president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards. He is from New York, and we would like to have him say just a word to you with reference to the pending legislation.
The CHAIRMAX. Very well, we shall be glad to hear from Mr. Edwards.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES G. EDWARDS, ESQ., PRESIDENT OF
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE BOARDS
Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, as president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, comprising some 515 boards in as many cities in the United States, I have just come here from a meeting of the board of directors at Dallas, Tex., where the proposed rent legislation was discussed. We rather view with alarm the establishment of a permanent commission that will have permanent control of rents in any State or city. We therefore feel like asking your indulgence in hearing from our general counsel, Gen. Nathan William Mac Chesney, of Chicago, in criticism of the proposed bill. That is really all I would like to take your time to say: If you will be good enough to listen to General Mac Chesney we shall be very glad indeed.
The CHAIRMAN. We shall be glad to hear from Mr. MacChesney.
STATEMENT OF NATHAN WILLIAM MacCHESNEY, ESQ., GENERAL COUNSEL, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE BOARDS
Mr. MacCHESNEY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, as Mr. Edwards, who is president of the national association, has stated, the National Association of Real Estate Boards is opposed to the proposed legislation. We are opposed to it on two grounds. In the first place we believe that it is economically unsound and will not accomplish the purpose intended. Second, we believe it is unfair to single out the real estate interests of the country and make them assume a burden which is necessary in connection with the housing of people in Washington that should be assumed by the taxpayers there generally.
When I was a student in the University of Michigan some 30 years ago, Doctor Adams, who was then our professor of economics, said that no economic problem could be solved on an unsound economic basis. That is the stand we take.
Before entering upon a discussion of the terms of the particular bill I wonder if, in view of my relationship to police legislation in the past, I may just comment for a moment upon the question which was put by the distinguished Senator from New York with reference to the constitutionality of legislation of this kind.
Senator COPELAND. You received your training in a good place. I will say that for you, both as to the university and as to the place of residence. Therefore, I will listen with great interest to what you have to say.
Mr. MacCHESNEY. We have by far the greatest law school in America now being constructed there, although I am now a resident of Chicago. But the first license bill for real-estate men in this country was drawn by me as a member of the Michigan bar and introduced into the Michigan Legislature in 1912 when I was a lecturer on constitutional law in the University of Michigan Law School. For something like 10 years I lectured upon constitutional law at the University of Illinois before I went into the service. However, I do not claim to be able to answer the question which the Senator from New York asks.
Senator COPELAND. You consider it fundamental, do you not?
Mr. Mac CHENEY. I consider it absolutely fundamental, and in my opinion the citations given in the brief filed here, which I have had a chance hurriedly to look over even in the few minutes I have been , here, do not reach the question at all.
In connection with the license law which you have before you in another connection and which I argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, I have in my hand the brief on the power to regulate the real estate business, in which I collected and argued before the Supreme Court of the United States all the cases which state the limit of police power, but I do not have for the banefit of the committee those cases which state the limitations.
We were trying to show how far the Congress could go in controlling the real estate business. We were not trying to defeat legislation and therefore I do not have before me, though at that time I did, those cases which state the cases beyond the limit of that power. It is a constantly growing power and I am a little at a disadvantage before the committee in attempting to cite cases on it because I happen to have been one of those who worked upon the briefs upon the minimum wage law. I prepared the brief for the Supreme Court of the United States on the child labor amendment and argued the case on the eight-hour law. Senator COPELAND. In opposition always?
Mr. MacCHESNEY. No, for. In other words, I have always been upon the side of social legislation and therefore mentally it is a little hard for me to at once recall the cases which are in line with what you want. My personal approach would be that if there is an emergency in Washington which constitutes a hardship upon the people, then there ought to be some power in Congress somehow to meet it. That is the way I approach these questions.
Senator COPELAND. We are agreed on that fully.
Mr. Mac CHESNEY. But I was interested in the constitutional discussion which took place, because the Constitution of the United States does not reserve the power to the Government and neither does it assume to give it unusual powers. The fact of the case is that before the Constitution of the United States was writtenand I do not need to recall this to you men who are administering it-all of the sovereignty of any sovereign people resided in the people of the country, and the Constitution of the United States was simply an allotment of that power.
Senator Jones of Washington. Does not the language of the Constitution indicate that Congress took a peculiar view with respect to the situation in the District of Columbia ?
Mr. Mac CHESNEY. That is true, but Congress could not take more power than existed, and the Constitution of the United States simply attempted to grant the power. That is fundamental.
Senator COPELAND. The thing you have in mind is that the States did not confer upon Congress any more power than the States themselves possessed?
Mr. MacCHESNEY. Precisely so, because the Constitution is a grant of power. It is a limitation upon the State, and the question in a constitutional argument is, Has this power been granted to the Congress? If it has been granted, its power is plenary with respect to the subject matter.
Senator Jones of Washington. The States in adopting the Constitution gave exclusive power over the District of Columbia.
Mr. Mac CHESNEY. Therefore it has all the power that would reside anywhere in a legislative body under the Constitution. Where does that stop short?
Senator JONES of Washington. That is the question.
Mr. MacCHESNEY. It seems it stops short with the inhibitions of the Constitution itself. It was not intended in granting this power to confer upon Congress the power to violate the Constitution itself and therefore, while it gave exclusive power to Congress and all the power that any legislature had, it did not repeal those fundamental human rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States.
I have no doubt, both as an Army officer on duty in the Army here during a part of the war before I went to France and as one who visits Washington frequently, that there have been occasions of abuse in the city of Washington. There are everywhere in every business. But I also have no doubt that those conditions with the cessation of the war and the changed conditions would have remedied themselves, and would have remedied themselves more rapidly without rent control than with it, because it is fundamental that whenever you attempt to interfere with the flow of private capital and its return, you tend to perpetuate the conditions which you try to remedy. It is certainly true that when outside capital, conservative capital but speculative capital, is looking for investment it does not go to those places where it is subject to the sort of bickering differences of opinion and control to which it is subject under such an act as this.
Senator COPELAND. Does it bother you if we ask questions as you proceed?
Mr. MacCHESNEY. Not at all, except that I may take more time than I should.
Senator COPELAND. So far as I am concerned I am so eager to find out about this, and apparently you know something about it, that I want to ask one or two questions. Do you not regard shelter as of just as much importance as bread?
Mr. MacCHESNEY. I think that food, clothing, and shelter are fundamental.
Senator COPELAND. If we could pass a permanent law relating to the quality and the price and the weight of bread, or if we could pass a permanent law as in the elevator case relating to the price to be charged for the storage of an essential, why can we not do exactly the same thing when it comes to shelter?