To the Republicans in Pennsylvania
To the Republicans in Pennsylvania:
It may now be taken for granted that Governor Pennypacker will say nothing publicly upon the proposition that the Republican party shall nominate and elect him to the Supreme Court judgeship. But something should be said by some one to wash away the existing misrepresentation. I am fully informed, better informed than Governor Pennypacker, of the facts surrounding the propostion, and in view of the recent publications, anonymous and judicial, it seems to be proper that they should be enlightened. Their criticisms upon the Governor are unwarranted. The accusations of Mr. Justice Brown and the anonymous writers in his train are malicious and mendacious.
Governor Pennypacker never was, and is not now, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Supreme Court. He has not sought, nor will he seek, that nomination. He has not signified that he will accept it if tendered to him, and if he is wise he will keep his counsel upon that question. If he declines, his enemies will say, some of them, that they have driven him from the field; others that he is declining a nomination which was never tendered and is not accessible; if he says he will accept, and the convention should fail to give him its suffrage, the situation would be still more disagreeable.
The documents in the case are few, an anonymous letter to the Philadelphia Record, a Democratic newspaper; an anonymous letter to the Philadelphia Press, and an interview from Judge Brown in the guise of Magister Morum of the Bench and Bar. The letter in the Record confines itself to two allegations: First, that the appointment of Mr. Justice Samuel Gustine Thompson was made in order that Governor Pennypacker should secure the judgeship for himself as soon as he can. This is false. The anonymous writer says he knows it to be a fact. Let him produce the evidence. Second, that Governor Pennypacker conspired with Senator Quay to trade two years of his term as governor for twenty-one years' term on the Supreme Court Bench. This is also false. If it is true let the anonymous writer produce the evidence of its truth.
The letter to the Press is devoted to the proposed appointment of Lyman D. Gilbert. Judge Weiss of Harrisburg and Mr. Gilbert both know that the statements of the Press writer are false. These are practically:
First, that the Governor sought to dicker or trade with Mr. Gilbert to attain the high office of Supreme Justice. This is false. Even if the Governor were disposed to dicker, Mr. Gilbert had nothing to deliver. I cannot imagine any action of Mr. Gilbert in the connection discussed that could prevent or promote the nomination or election of Governor Pennypacker. If the vacancy were a factor in results, it would only be necessary to leave it open until the Republican Convention met. Here again the anonymous writer must produce his evidence or stand convicted.
Second, that a conference was held at the Executive Mansion, after which Mr. Gilbert was told that he would be appointed to the vacant judgeship if he would agree not to be a candidate for the nomination, and that if Lieutenant Governor Brown became governor he would appoint Gilbert attorney general. This is also false. If it is true let the anonymous gentleman produce his evidence.
Third, that he was told Judge Thompson or D. T. Watson would be appointed if he, Gilbert, did not accept. This is false, as is the inference that Lieutenant Governor Brown was a party. If true, let us have the evidence.
This is the substance of all the charges against Governor Pennypacker in this connection. I declare them false, and the anonymous correspondents of the Press and Record and Mr. Justice Brown must establish their case by evidence or stand convicted libelers. To use a homely but apposite expression, they must “put up or shut up.” When they attempt to “put up,” I will have something to say, more in detail. In the meantime, as the Record declares its correspondent “high and reputable” and the Press declares its correspondent “high and responsible,” it would be fair for their “high” writers to take off their masks and show their faces to the people of the state whose governor they traduce.
Only an extract from the interview of Justice Brown has penetrated here, but newspaper comments indicate that he has descended from his judicial perch to snarl at Governor Pennypacker in obedience to a call upon him to interfere for the protection of the Bench, which he declares is menaced. He is certainly answering a call intended for some one else. There is no reason within my recollection why the Bench should distinguish him as its special representative to prevent our chief executive from passing between the wind and their nobility. He was nominated and elected, as Governor Pennypacker will be nominated and elected if at all, by a Republican State Convention and the Republicans of the state. Even in his case there were evil-disposed persons who said that he was not selected for pre-eminent qualifications, nor in obedience to the clamorous demands of the people, but that he was, so to speak, taken by the scruff of the neck and the seat of his inexpressibles by a friend or two and catapulted over the sacred pole which divides the Supreme Court from common mortals. Yet the Bench did not regard his unconventional entrance as a menace to its safety, nor when Justice Potter was appointed by his business partner to his high position did the Supreme Court flee in terror at his unceremonious entrance. On the contrary, he was deservedly popular. Every member of that court has gone upon the Bench, as the governor may go on it, by a nomination and election by his party. Every one of them was desirous and has endeavored to get there, and they were sent there to judicially administer justice, not to trail their gowns in the gutters of politics and to dictate the nomination and election of their associates. This, in my opinion, is the sentiment of the people in this contention of Justice Brown. If he is of a contrary opinion, let him resign his judgeship and go before the next Republican State Convention and before the people and test the question. He will be wiser afterward, and I can assure him the convention will be no more of a machine-made convention than the similar bodies which nominated him and his associates to their present positions. Were it not that Justice Brown in his interviews fences me, in common with many hundreds of Republicans in Pennsylvania outside of the fellowship of “decent people,” I might enter upon the ethics of the situation and the delicacies that accompany the high place he occupies. There is certainly a question whether the people have a right to take an officer from a place to which they have called him and command him to another. There is also a question whether, granted the right to take a judge from the court of common pleas and place him in the Supreme or Superior Court, the principle will not apply in the case of a governor and whether the acceptance of his office by a governor creates an implied contract with the people that he shall fill his allotted term, any more than does the acceptance of his office by a common pleas judge. This is pertinent, for five of the present members of the Supreme Court were elevated from the common pleas bench. But, I leave those matters for solution to the “decent people.” I have received but one letter from a judicial officer upon the Pennypacker controversy. It was from Judge Brown.
- M. S. Quay.
St. Lucie, Florida, Feb. 13, 1904.