Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Nor can congress deny to the people the right to keep and bear arms"


   The decision has been reached by the house ways and means committee to establish a sort of modified Dingley tariff for Puerto Rico and the senate committee on Pacific islands has conformed to this arrangement.

   Twenty-five per cent of the Dingler rates on all imports into the United States from Puerto Rico and on all imports from the United State into Puerto Rico, it is provided shall be collected. This plan was agreed upon in both committees by a strict party vote. The democrats supported the presidents recommendations, vigorously supported by Secretary Root, that there should be free trade between the two countries.

   The constitutional declaration that "all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout tho United States is escaped on the contention that Puerto Rico is but a scrap of territory that comes to the United States as a bit of flotsam on the waves of war, and that it should not be permitted to in any way interfere with the grand scheme of tariff protection. The constitution has come to be a very troublesome document to our republican friends and will continue so, unless on congressional whim, it shall be set aside hereafter whenever the emergency presents itself as it appears to have been heretofore.

   Chief Justice Taney once passed on the applicability of the constitution to territories as follows:

   "There is certainly no power given by the constitution to the Federal government to establish or maintain colonies bordering on the United States, or at a distance, to be ruled and governed at its own pleasure. * * * No power is given to acquire a territory to be held and governed permanently in that character. * * * No one, we presume, will contend that congress can make any law in a territory respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people of the territory peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for the redress of grievances. Nor can congress deny to the people the right to keep and bear arms, nor the right of trial by jury, nor compel any one to be a witness against himself in a criminal proceeding. * * * A power, therefore, in the general government to obtain and hold colonies and dependent territories, over which they might legislate without restriction would be inconsistent its own existence in its present form."

   However, Judge Taney's opinion has had no weight with the republican members of the house and senate committees in this case, and the supreme court must again appealed to in order to fix the power and meaning of the constitution to another and more recent radical departure from its plain provisions.

- Houston Daily Post Mailable Edition, Houston, Texas, Saturday, February 10, 1900. XVTH Year--No. 312. Pg. 4.

   The above commentary of Chief Justice Taney's, of the United States Supreme Court, is expanded upon here.

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