Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/259

This page needs to be proofread.


The Green Bag

about the meaning of the police power and due process of law; the need of correcting the specific application of these principles of the constitution is secondary. The scope of the police power, rather than the form of a work men's compensation statute, is an ap propriate subject for a constitutional amendment. The police power needs to be so clearly defined that there can be no doubt that it embraces the im position of liability without fault, when such liability is conducive to the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and that there can be no doubt that the interests of employees are conserved as effectually as those of any other social class. If an amendment setting forth only general principles, and ignor ing the special subject of workmen's conr ensation, were adopted, we believe that the fate of future workmen's com pensation acts could safely be intrusted to the discretion of a court sure to feel bound by the clearer enunciation of constitutional guaranties. The public should at least be willing to take the chance, and risk having the coveted measure set aside by an unreceptive and recalcitrant court. For these reasons we are not able to approve wholly of the proposed amend ment pending in the New York legis lature, though not for the reasons given by the eminent committee of the New York County Lawyers' Association. Yet our objections relate more to the form of the amendment, as needlessly specific and invading the field of statute law, than to its substance, for the con stitution of New York obviously needs to be changed, and the amendment is sufficiently concerned with the police power in its broader aspects and suf ficiently harmonious with the existing constitution, to offer no obstacles to consistent and logical constitutional

construction in future and to be entitled to consideration as something better than clumsy legal patchwork. Mr. Burlingham, in his dissenting report, preferred the form of amendment pro posed by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, as more satis factory than the form which the legis lature has already passed, but put aside his personal preferences in view of the importance of giving the legislature power to change the existing system of employers' liability. The amendment, while not ideal, seems free from the danger of which fears have been ex pressed, and perhaps if it is adopted the constitutional convention likely to as semble some time within the next two years can eliminate some of its statutory provisions and throw it into more suitable form. A PROVINCIAL SCOT HOW little the change that has come over the legal profession in Scot land may be divined from the following characterization of Lord Cockburn, from an article by W. G. Scott-Moncrieff in Cockburn the Juridical was a Review Scotsman 1 : —of a type which no longer exists. In his rank of life, through constant intercourse with the greater world of England, not to speak of the Continent, men have necessarily become much more cosmopoli tan than they were in days when the only link between the Edinburgh Courts and parliamen tary life in London was the Lord Advocate for the time being, who traveled between the two cities in coaches, public or private, and made the weary journey, we may well suppose, as seldom as possible. Cockburn could hardly have con ceived the day when quite a body of advocates would spend their nights in sleeping carriages, and divide their business hours between Edin burgh and Westminster; nor could he have imagined that the time would come when a greater judicial prize than the Lord President ship would attract the ambition of Scottish legal talent. He does not seem to have had that educational connection with the Continent which our older generation of lawyers enjoyed. 124 Juridical Review 302 (Jan.)