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by any fear of removal so long as he is acting strictly as the law requires. This is the reason why many who believe in the recall of other officers do not believe in the recall of judges. The following is taken from The Outlook:
But the judiciary are not representative," says President Taft, “in any such sense as the legislative or executive." It is a complete misunderstanding of our form of government, or of any kind of government that exalts justice and righteousness, to assume that judges are bound to follow the will of a majority of an electorate in respect of the issue for their decision.” As to the recall of judges, "there could not be a system better adapted to deprive the judiciary of that independence without which the liberty and other rights of the individual cannot be maintained against the government and the majority."
DEMOCRACY AND THE COURTS
F the reasons against recall of judges are so strong, as former President Taft thinks, why does any one
favor it? Is it because people are stupid, or because different parties and interests think that by recalling judges they could escape from the consequences of disobeying just laws? To understand the reason for the agitation which we have had during the past few years we must look deeper.
The supposition which we stated in the last chapter Do courts was that the courts apply laws but do not make them. make law The real source of trouble is that this is only partly
it only! true. Let us examine more carefully both kinds of law, the common law and the statute law, in order to see how far judges apply law and how far they make it.
Common law we learned something about in the ear- (1) In lier part of the book. We saw that it was built up step common
law by step by the English judges, as they decided cases brought before them. They based their decisions in part upon the customs of the country; in part they reasoned out what would be the fair thing in a new case. They went by previous decisions so far as these seemed to apply; but from time to time there would be something new in the matter that would have to be decided on the basis of what the judge believed to be reasonable.
In recent years many new issues have come up for decision and conditions have changed so completely
that judges have had to do one of two things. They have had to follow the old decisions strictly, and therefore make a decision which doesn't fit the present case; or they have had really to make a new precedent. One illustration of the way in which judges virtually make a new law was the group of decisions, about a hundred years ago in England, holding trade-unions and strikes unlawful. Professor Stimson points out that there were two lines of statutes, either of which the courts might have followed. On the one hand was the old line of common law decisions as to gilds, which treated these unions as perfectly lawful. On the other hand was the old line of Statutes of Laborers, which fixed a lawful wage. The courts might have regarded a trade-union as a sort of gild, and therefore called it lawful. What they did was to regard it as “a combination of workingmen to break the law by getting more than lawful wages.” It is easy to see that the courts were really making a new law here by selecting which of two possible rules they would apply. Indeed there are now so many cases to which a judge may refer for a precedent in making a decision that it is almost always a question of choosing which precedent he will follow. A distinguished jurist has said, “ that a judge may decide almost any question any way and still be supported by an
Instance the fellowservant rule
One illustration of the way in which a judge really makes new law, although he may think that he is simply following an old rule, is found in the so-called fellowservant rule. Under the old rule of common law a servant or employee could not recover damages for an injury caused in whole or in part by the negligence of a fellow-servant. In olden times only a few work
men would be employed together. It was easy for each to know the rest. Moreover, there was little if any machinery. Under such conditions it was not a very unfair rule. The leading case in this country in applying the rule was that decided by Judge Shaw of Massachusetts. A locomotive engineer was injured by the neglect of a switchman. The court held that the switchman was a fellow-servant, and therefore that the engineer could not recover damages. “The implied contract of the master," said the court, “ does not extend to indemnify the servant against the negligence of any one but himself.” Now the practical effect of this upon a great railway system employing thousands of men would be to leave the workman with practically no relief at all in the great number of cases where some one might be careless. Under the earlier methods of industry a man might know something about his fellow-servants and the risks he was taking, so that he would be reasonably safe. To apply the old rule to the conditions of a great railway system in which an engineer could know nothing about the conduct of the thousands of other men on whom his safety depends is in reality to make a new law, although the old phrases may be used.
As a result, in part, of the precedent thus set, which has been followed by the courts, very few workmen in proportion to the total number injured have received any damages. Although they and their families are ill able to sustain the losses due to the dangerous character of modern machinery, the law as thus interpreted by the courts has practically compelled them to bear the whole weight, except when statutes have been passed to abolish the older rule, or else to give compensation irrespective of who may be at fault.
(2) In statute law
What has made the above interpretation seem harder is that railways and other common carriers have been held strictly responsible for injuries to passengers or for parcels intrusted to them for shipment. It has thus appeared that the courts have protected property more carefully than they have protected the lives of workmen.
Besides the common law, the other great division of law is the statutes, that is, laws passed by Congress or by legislatures. Here it may seem that the judge cannot, if he would, make law; apparently his only duty is to decide whether a case comes under the law. But before the judge can decide this, he has to decide what the statute means; laws are usually stated in very general terms and sometimes the terms are not clear. The judge must interpret the statute. He may give it an interpretation which really makes a new law. For example, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution has this clause, “Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Professor McLaughlin says: “By this amendment, the nation intervened to protect the citizens of the State against unjust legislation or action of the State.” “Before this amendment was passed . . . the state had complete control over its citizens and could be as tyrannical as it saw fit, provided that it did not interfere with the relations between a person and the National Government or violate the few expressed prohibitions in the National Constitution."
What was the purpose of this amendment? Evidently to protect the negro from unfair laws such as those of peonage, which would virtually continue slav
Instance, the Fourteenth Amendment