the United States has furnished an opportunity for a review of the decisions of the State courts upon a most important branch of the law. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, including the provision that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, were adopted, as it was early settled, solely for the purpose of limiting the power of Congress. They imposed, therefore, no restraint upon the legislative power of the several States; and as Congress found few occasions to violate this provision, the federal judges were seldom required to put a construction upon it. The State Constitutions, however, contain similar clauses, and the State courts have had abundant opportunities to interpret them. Now, the fourteenth amendment, adopted after the close of the civil war, contains a provision extending the same limitation to the power of the several States, and in this way the acts of the State legislatures which are supposed to violate the rights thereby secured have been drawn within the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States. The great branch of constitutional law, therefore, which depends upon this important part of the Bill of Rights is now being reviewed by the federal judges, who are not bound by the decisions made in the State courts, and yet have the benefit of the experience of a century.
What I have said may appear to touch only the judges, and to have no application to the profession at large. But, in the first place, it must be remembered that the judges are selected from the ranks of the profession, and that in the long run their views upon the importance of constitutional law, and their sense of the great responsibility of their position, must be derived mainly from the profession in which they were bred. It is not, however, only as the great mother of judges that the legal profession is involved in this responsibility. Every lawyer may become engaged in suits turning upon points of constitutional law. He then finds himself arguing questions which among other nations are determined by a popular assembly or parliament of the realm. He argues, moreover, before a court whose decision becomes a precedent, often more difficult to shake than any act of Parliament. Every American lawyer is, in a sense, therefore, a statesman by virtue of his profession, and may at any time find himself called upon to take part in deciding questions destined to leave a lasting mark upon the government of his country. His position, it is true, differs in one very