The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 31, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "Legal But Lamentable" refers to Tennessee Elec. Power Co. v. T.V.A., 306 US 118 (1939), as previously summarized in the note accompanying November 18, 1938 regarding "Fie on Fly".

The two other cases, among those decided January 30, 1939, to which "In Both Directions" refers, were: Felt & Tarrant Mfg. Co. v. Gallagher, et al., 306 US 62, the case upholding the California use tax; and Dixie Ohio Exp. Co. v. State Revenue Commission of Georgia, 306 US 72, the case validating interstate regulation and taxation of trucking companies.

The reference to Federal Judge Manton, indicted for receiving bribes to fix cases, resulted in conviction and the maximum sentence allowable at the time, two years in prison and a fine of $10,000, (80% of one year's salary then for Federal judges), as further editorialized in "After Manton", June 7, 1939, and "Inadequate", June 21, 1939. (The latter date also includes, as a bonus, "Literary Critic", setting forth for the credulous some more Red-brandings by Dave Clark.)

Incidentally, the maximum sentence now for receiving a bribe as a public official is still two years, at least under 18 USC 201(c), although the fine may be up to $250,000; but, there is a catch: under subsection (b) of the same statute, if the bribe is received "corruptly", generally meaning improperly, to influence performance of official duty, induce the official to commit fraud on the United States, or to induce either malfeasance or non-feasance regarding official duties, or to influence testimony of the official as a witness in a Federal proceeding, then the penalty may be up to fifteen years in prison plus a fine up to $250,000 or up to three times the bribe, whichever is greater.

So what is the ordinary manner of bribe chargeable under subsection (c) versus that which is "corruptly" given or received, chargeable under (b)? That probably depends on the circumstances of the bribe (as well as whether the charging entity owes any political patronage (i.e., legal bribes) to the official charged).

--Ah, move over a little to the center now, baby. That's it. Scratch it...

Progress of a Statesman

We have confessed mournfully before now that Robert Rice Reynolds has shown signs of having begun to take himself seriously, and of being hotly eager that other people shall do the same.

First the great man came storming back from Europe to proclaim that Mr. Hitler wasn't bothering us and that we should stay at home and mind our own business.

And then he took the Senate floor and for six solid pages ($360 worth) in the Congressional Record solemnly set forth the fact that he was almost converted to being a dry.

Again, the other day he actually and astoundingly voted for the cut in relief appropriations--the second economy vote he has ever cast, and one of the few times he has crossed the Administration on domestic policy. And the evidence continues.

Now he is going to make a speech to prove that the uproar about Fascism among us is only a smoke screen of the Reds. And most astonishing and unbelievable of all, he has come out with a querulous statement that there are no more jobs in Washington and that Tar Heels might as well give up flocking to his office in search of them. That is, Robert, who has been the greatest master of pap in the Senate save only Pat (for patronage) McKellar of Tennessee, has decided to foreswear the dispensing of pap altogether! Next we shall hear, no doubt, that in addition to foreswearing the demon rum and the public kissing of blonde actresses, the great man has decided never to take a trip again.

Legal But Lamentable

The Supreme Court told the utilities yesterday that they cannot sue for the alienation of the affections of a young lady with whom they were only good friends. Stated in somewhat more legalistic language (Justice Roberts'), the decision held that the utilities had no immunity from lawful competition even if their business be curtailed or destroyed.

The right of the Federal Government to go into the power business was not passed upon, but inasmuch as the court has already ruled in another case that a person without direct interest cannot bring suit to test the constitutionality of an act of Congress, and since the utilities are likewise denied any standing in court, TVA would seem to be safe from prosecution.

Hence, TVA is injunction-proof. In any case, there it is--a monument to the duplicity and extravagance of the New Deal, a "yardstick" of about 27 inches or less, a flagrant example of the misuse of taxing power to throttle the industry of the very taxpayers who made its building possible. TVA, that is, may be not unconstitutional; but the court decision doesn't go so far as to say that it is either desirable or equitable.

Difference Of Opinion

It stands to reason that Messrs. Garibaldi and McManus, fortified with the experience of successive terms as foremen of Mecklenburg's Grand Jury, know what they are talking about when they say that violations of the law in Mecklenburg County are "flagrant." And if that is the way of it and if the police are derelict in their duty, why, we would be the last to oppose a shakeup calculated to get the wrongdoer his deserts and the criminal his just punishment.

There is considerable doubt, however, that their proposed method of bettering this situation, if it actually exists, will help rather than hurt. What they propose comes down, in the end, to this: that a Civil Service Commission appointed by the County Commissioners will do a better job of supervising the Rural Police Department than a Civil Service Commission appointed by the resident Superior Court judge. That proposition sounds anything but logical. Indeed, by the judgment of two hands of much longer service in County politics than either Messrs. Garibaldi or McManus, it is wholly fallacious.

Chairman Henry Harkey of the Board of Commissioners and former Judge Fred Hunter of County Recorder's Court both fear that to return appointment of the Civil Service Commission to the County Commissioners would have the effect of putting the police force back into the middle of politics and seriously impair its efficiency. Past experience bears out their views.

If He's Guilty--

Like all other men, Judge Manton is entitled to be considered innocent until he is proved guilty. But if the charges made by Mr. Dewey should turn out to be correct, then it will not be enough merely to impeach him and remove him from the bench. If he has been taking bribes, then he has been guilty of a particularly offensive crime--a crime compounded by his great rank and power.

A failure of integrity in judges has always been considered an intolerable offense by all peoples. In medieval times, the man who was convicted of it was commonly flayed alive. In the city hall at Bruges, there is a celebrated old painting depicting "The Flaying of the Unjust Judge," in which the victim is being cut out of his skin while the chief burghers look complacently on. We no longer indulge in such barbarous practice, and rightly. But any judge convicted of taking bribes should nevertheless not get off with mere disgrace. It is a hard thing to think of sending an old man whose days have been full of dignity and honor to jail for a long period. But if Judge Manton is guilty, to jail he should nevertheless go.

And more than that he ought to go attended by a retinue--made up of any and everybody who may have given him those bribes.

Appeasement By Hitler

It is possible to take the position of Senator Key Pittman and read into Hitler's speech yesterday a milder attitude than he has sometimes taken. But even to do that one must be determined to be hopeful, and it is impossible to find any genuine "conciliatory" spirit in the whole. The man is surrounded by trained soldiers who are seriously disturbed by the increasingly angry attitude of the United States and who remember another war which Germany felt quite confident of being able "determinedly to end" within three months--who understand very well that airplanes won't win a war, and that in the scale of real power, that of naval and economic strength, the odds are in favor of the Western democracies.

And whatever pulling of punches he indulged in was probably more a concession to these men than anything else. There was little evidence that his real attitude has changed. Back of everything he said lurked, as always, the uttered threat of force if anybody attempts to balk him of whatever he desires. He is going to back Mussolini to the hilt. And he is going to have a completely free hand in Europe.

But in the single thing which most concerns us, the case of Latin America, nobody can deny that Germany does have the right to trade there. Or that her economic dealings there are her business. Well, certainly, nobody could deny it if it were a matter only of trade and economics.

But we know the Nazi and Fascist agents are busily trying to sell Latin-American not only goods but the Nazi ideology and governmental system. And we know also that Stooge Franco is already talking of making his Nazi and Fascist controlled country a "spiritual axis" for all Latin-American countries.

In Both Directions

Among the other decisions made by the Supreme Court yesterday were two that:

Upheld a state court decision validating a 1935 California tax, imposed on articles bought outside California and brought into the state for use there.

Upheld the Supreme Courts of Georgia and New Hampshire in ruling valid State laws for taxing and regulating truck operation (apparently trucks from other states, since there was no doubt at all about the right of the state to regulate intrastate commerce).

All of which is interesting in the light of the plaint that the states are steadily being deprived of all power and the last shadow of sovereignty. In some respects, their power certainly is being cut down. But at the same time it is actually being expanded in such regulation of interstate commerce. To a layman's eyes a tax on products or vehicles from other states looks exactly like an import duty--an internal tariff--a thing forbidden by the Constitution. The court says it isn't, however, and for legal purposes that makes it so, regardless of what the Fathers intended.

A wonderful tendency, certainly. On the one hand, we move toward becoming a more and more tightly centralized nation, controlled by a bureaucracy from Washington. And on the other we move toward becoming, for certain purposes, a looser and looser confederation of 48 independent nations, each with its own customs barriers raised against every other!


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