Page:Register of debates in congress, v6.djvu/90

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[Jan. 27, 1830.
Mr. Foot's Resolution.

to the constitution of the United States, made the following report:

The Committee to whom was referred the communication of the Governor of Pennsylvania, covering certain resolutions of the Legislature of that State, proposing an amendment of the Constitution of the United States, by the appointment of an impartial tribunal to decide disputes between the States and Federal Judiciary, have had the same under their consideration, and are of opinion, that a tribunal is already provided by the Constitution of the United States, to wit: the Supreme Court, more eminently qualified, from their habits and duties, from the mode of their selection, and from the tenure of their offices, to decide the disputes aforesaid, in an enlightened and impartial manner, than any other tribunal which could be created.

The members of the Supreme Court are selected from those in the United States who are most celebrated for virtue and legal learning, not at the will of a single individual, but by the concurrent wishes of the President and Senate of the United States: they will, therefore, have no local prejudices and partialities. The duties they have to perform lead them, necessarily, to the most enlarged and accurate acquaintance with the jurisdiction of the Federal and State Courts together, and with the admirable symmetry of our Government. The tenure of their offices enables them to pronounce the sound and correct opinions they may have formed, without fear, favor, or partiality.

The amendment to the Constitution, proposed by Pennsylvania, seems to be founded upon the idea that the Federal Judiciary will, from a lust of power, enlarge their jurisdiction, to the total annihilation of the jurisdiction of the State Courts; that they will exercise their will, instead of the law and the Constitution.

This argument, if it proves any thing, would operate more strongly against the tribunal proposed to be created, which promised so little, than against the Supreme Court, which, for the reasons given before, have every thing connected with their appointment calculated to ensure confidence. What security have we, were the proposed amendment adopted, that this tribunal would not substitute their will and their pleasure in place of the law? The Judiciary are the weakest of the three Departments of Government, and least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; they hold neither the purse nor the sword; and, even to enforce their own judgments and decisions, must ultimately depend upon the Executive arm. Should the Federal Judiciary, however, unmindful of their weakness, unmindful of the duty which they owe to themselves and their country, become corrupt, and transcend the limits of their jurisdiction, would the proposed amendment oppose even a probable barrier in such an improbable state of things?

The creation of a tribunal, such as is proposed by Pennsylvania, so far as we are able to form an idea of it from the description given in the resolutions of the Legislature of that State, would, in the opinion of your Committee, tend rather to invite, than to prevent, collisions between the Federal and State Courts. It might also become, in process of time, a serious and dangerous embarrassment to the operations of the General Government.

Resolved, therefore, That the Legislature of this State do disapprove of the amendment to the constitution of the United States proposed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania.

Resolved, also, That his Excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby, requested to transmit forthwith, a copy of the foregoing preamble and resolutions to each of the Senators and Representatives of this State in Congress, and to the Executive of the several States in the Union, with a request that the same be laid before the Legislatures thereof.

The said resolutions being read a second time, were, on motion, ordered to be referred to a Committee ofthe Whole House on the state of the Commonwealth.

Tuesday, January 23, 1810.

The House, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the State ofthe Commonwealth, and, after some time spent therein, Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and Mr. Stanard, of Spottsylvania, reported that the Committee had, according to order, had under consideration the preamble and resolutions ofthe Select Committee, to whom was referred that part of the Governor's communication which relates to the amendment proposed to the constitution of the United States by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, had gone through with the same, and directed him to report them to the House without amendment; which he handed in at the Clerk's table.

And the question being put on agreeing to the said preamble and resolutions, they were agreed to by the House unanimously.

Ordered, That the Clerk carry the said preamble and resolutions to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

In Senate, Wednesday, January 24, 1810.

The preamble and resolutions on the amendment to the constitution ofthe United States, proposed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, by the appointment of an impartial tribunal to decide disputes between the State and Federal Judiciary, being also delivered in and twice read, on motion, was ordered to be committed to Messrs. Nelson, Currie, Campbell, Upshur, and Wolfe.

Friday, January 26.

Mr. Nelson reported, from the Committee to whom was. committed the preamble and resolutions on the amendment proposed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, Sec. that the Committee had, according to order, taken the said preamble, &c. under their consideration, and directed him to report them without any amendment.

And on the question being put thereupon, the same was agreed to unanimously.

Mr. HAYNE, in reply to Mr. Webster, observed: I do not rise at this late hour,[1] Mr. President, to go at large into the controverted questions between the Senator from Massachusetts and myself, but merely to correct some very gross errors into which he has fallen, and to afford explanations on some points, which, after what has fallen from that gentleman, may perhaps be considered as requiring explanation. The gentleman has attempted, through the whole course of his argument, to throw upon me the blame of having provoked this discussion. Though standing himself at the very head and source of this angry controversy, which has flowed from him down to me, he insists that I have troubled the waters. In order to give color to this charge, (wholly unfounded, Sir, as every gentleman of this body will bear witness,) he alludes to my excitement when I first rose to answer the gentleman, after he had made his attack upon the South. He charges me with having then confessed that I had something rankling in my bosom which I desired to discharge. Sir, I have no recollection of having used that word. If it did escape me, however, in the excitement of the moment, it was not indicative of any personal hostility towards that Senator—for in truth, Sir, I felt none—but proceeded from a sensibility, which could not but be excited by what I had a right to consider as an unprovoked and most unwarrantable attack upon the South, through me.

The gentleman boasts that he has escaped unhurt in the conflict. The shaft, it seems, was shot by too feeble an arm to reach its destination. Sir, I am glad to hear this. Judging from the actions of the gentleman, I had feared

  1. The lateness of the hour when Mr. W. resumed his seat, compelled Mr. H. to curtail his remarks in reply, especially those which related to the Constitutional question. In the Speech as here reported, the arguments omitted are supplied. The great importance of the question, makes it desirable, that nothing should be omitted necessary to its elucidation.