The Civil War News & Views Open Discussion Forum

More...Supreme Court limits

May 1863...The Legislature of New Jersey, at the last hour of its session. passed the following resolution:

"Resolved, That the people of New Jersey are
law-abiding, Constitntion-loving, and ardently de-
voted to a Union of all the states, and that while they
condemn and protest against certain laws as uncon-
stitutional and unjust, yet until they are repealed or
declared by a competent tribunal to be unconstitu-
tional, they will regard them as law, and will con-
fidently look to the courts and to the ballot-box for

...The fact that the people of that state are law-abiding, is the very reason why they will not “regard as law” acts which are known to be unconstitutional. An unconstitutional act is not law, and can have no just binding effect whatever upon any body.To denounce, by resolution, certain Congressional acts, as unconstitutional, and then to say that they must be respected as law, even for an hour, is a strange and dishonoring inconsistency...

...The right thing for the Senate of New Jersey to have resolved, would have been, after denouncing acts of Congress as unconstitutional, to proceed forthwith to resist those acts (not by physical violence, for that is not the remedy so long as the laws survive) by an immediate appeal to the courts. If Congress passed an unconstitutional act yesterday, and a citizen is oppressed by it today, he may resist it by an instant appeal to the courts of justice, which are bound to protect him from unconstitutional legislation. Not only the courts, but the Executive and the whole force of the State are bound to protect him against an unconstitutional and oppressive act of Congress. This is one of the very objects for which courts, executives and state forces exist—to protect the liberty and rights of every citizen. In this country an act of Congress is not necessarily law. It must conform to the constitution, and not transcend the powers delegated to the federal government by the states, or it is no law at all...

...But, it will be asked, what shall be done in case the State courts are bribed, or intimidated, or otherwise corrupted or suspended by a corrupt Administration? This raises an entirely new question. But it is to be presumed that the State courts will not allow themselves to be intimidated or corrupted until there is positive evidence to the contrary. No man can proceed on his own mere belief or suspicions; but the proof must be positive, and so public that it is evident to the whole community, before he will be justified in appealing to the last sacred resort of personally defending his violated rights. The compact between the individual and the Government is, that in consideration of Government protecting him in all his just rights of property, liberty and life, he shall render a cheerful and unhesitating support to the Government It is a part of the bargain that he shall pay a tax to support courts of justice to decide questions arising between him and other men, or between him and the Government. While those courts are open to him he is to make no other appeals than to their decision. But if the courts are swept away or suspended, or otherwise rendered inoperative for justice, then all the laws that bound him are swept away too, and he is thrown back upon his original and imprescriptible right to defend himself by his individual prowess. Strike down the courts, AS ESTABLISHED BY THE CONSTITUTION, and muscle becomes the supreme law of the land. Then every man’s own right arm is not only the government de facto, but jure divino...

...But for the corruption or cowardice of a few leaders the first step of usurpation would never have been ventured by Congress and the Administration. These would-be leaders—these GREENBACK patriots—have betrayed their country and the people! For a consideration they have helped to trample the constitution under the bloody feet of usurped power! In the people, in the people is the last hope of our bleeding country!

Gov. Seymour, New York.

What a scary time they lived in and what a corruptable government we have inherited.

David Upton