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318. Legislation and Administration.
our whole judicial structure should be unified and simplified, our law courts and equity courts should be combined, and the whole system should be under the control of the Supreme Court.
Opinion is divided as to whether the constitution should contain the requirement that the supreme court must meet at three different places. Several interesting suggestions are offered in the following extract from a very thoughtful letter,
Provide for the Supreme Court to meet in Nashville only, increase the number of the Supreme Court judges to nine, three from each grand division of the state and so regulate the time of their election, as not to have them all go out of office at one time. Prohibit the creation of an intermediate Appellate Court, but permit the Supreme Court to sit in sections, the chief justice and four to hear cases while the other four are writing opinions, and thus alternate so that a part can be hearing cases while the other part are writing opinions.
Among the miscellaneous suggestions for improving the administration of justice were (1) that the justices of the peace should no longer be constitutional officers and that they should be deprived of their criminal jurisdiction in cities; (2) that, in order to reduce criminal costs prosecution for minor offences should be allowed upon information to the attorney general;8 (3) that accused persons may be allowed to plead guilty on apprehension; (4) that the constitution shall require the enactment of a code of civil pleading and practice and a compilation of the statute law of the state; (5) the establishment of the office of public defender; (6) the creation of a board of pardons and (7) provision for a simpler method than impeachment for removing high officials-for instance by proceedings before the supreme court.
The demand for changes in the constitutional clauses providing for and regulating the legislative and the administrative functions of the state, though apparently less widespread than reform of the judiciary is nevertheless vigorous. It includes
See Acts of 1915, ch. 95.
VI, 2. Knoxville, Nashville, Jackson. "There has been much blackmail carried on in the offices of city justices of the peace. Ignorant persons are arrested on charges, sometimes true and sometimes false, and the offer is made that if they will pay a few dollars the matter will be dropped.
Presentment, indictment or impeachment is now required-I, 14.
This would enable them to begin serving their terms in the work house at once; would save costs.
such forward looking measures as proportional representation, "a provision making the Governor and heads of the various departments members of the Legislative body," and a single chambered general assembly. A committee of the Bar Association of Tennessee reported to its 1915 meeting that the bicameral legislature composed of both senate and house
belongs to that period when an aristocracy sought by means of the second house to perpetuate its privilege, and, therefore, has no place in a democracy like ours.
The report proposed
a legislature consisting of a single house of thirty-three members; three members from each congressional district and one from each grand division of the state to be elected for four years, and paid a good salary. The legislature to meet annually in January, when for a week or ten days all bills should be introduced and printed. Then an adjournment for ninety days so that the people could know what legislation was in contemplation. On re-convening either pass or reject the measures. No others to be introduced or considered. No local legislation; [legislation for individual counties] to be relegated exclusively to the commissioners of the respective counties.
Any member of the legislature should be subject to recall on petition of a majority of the voters of his district.1
Among other suggestions are (1) some provision to enforce the clause intended to prevent acts from becoming effective sooner than forty days after passage2 and (2) a provision rendering members of the legislature ineligible to offices created by acts passed during their incumbency.3
The prohibition of special legislation with the consequent enormous saving of the time and energy of the general assembly is the most widely advocated of legislative reforms. The necessity of fewer restrictions upon the power of the legislature is occasionally recognized and a very considerable sentiment seems to exist in favor of the initiative, referendum and recall. Apparently a constitutional prohibition of acceptance of railroad passes by legislators and other public officials would receive wide approval.
News dispatch to Journal and Tribune, June 25, 1915. Proceedings of Bar Association, pp. 51ff (56, 58).
See II, 10. Many offices appointive by others than the governor and legislature are said to be created every session for the benefit of particular legislators.
320. New State Functions.
The elementary administrative reform-the short ballot, or fewer elective officers-seems to have few advocates in Tennes see. Quite as many citizens, probably, would increase the length of the ballot, especially the state ballot, by including the comptroller, treasurer and secretary of state. More thought seems to have been given to increasing the length of the terms of administrative officers and rendering them ineligible to reëlection. Greater control by the governor of the law-enforcing agencies of the state-including ability to call out the militia without legislative authorization-is apparently advocated by a great many citizens. The feeling seems to be fairly general that the governor should be given more power. The creation of the office of lieutenant-governor is deemed desirable in some quarters.
Competitive civil service examinations are, as has been intimated, advocated very earnestly by a few citizens. One writer would prescribe
a thorough Educational and Moral test for all candidates for public offices in state and county, with the view to the elimination of the morally and intellectually unfit.
Several recommendations contemplate an increase in the functions of the state government for instance, (1) the regula tion of all public service corporations through a constitutional state commission; (2) road building by the state, and (3) the creation of
a fire insurance department for the State so that the State may insure property both real and personal, making the amount of insurance carried the basis of assessment upon the property insured. All employees in the insurance department to be under Civil Service, and be required to pass a rigid examination both as to mental and moral qualifications.
Two writers advocate conservation measures. One of them specifies that the constitution should expressly authorize the organization of "power, forestation and conservation districts, with power of local taxation for such purposes."
Amongst the miscellaneous reforms advocated by a considereous Recom- able number of citizens, greater home rule for cities and the
'See III, 5.
e. g., by requiring an increased majority to pass an act over his veto. "The proponent adds "This will do more to bring personal property into assessment than any other one thing."
"Classification of cities with prohibition of legislative enactment save applicable to a class was also proposed.
grant of the suffrage to women should first be mentioned. Woman's rights in general, election reform and prohibition by the constitution of the manufacture or sale of intoxicants also deserve especial mention.
Interesting proposals by one or two writers would establish the Torrens System of land title registration and a system of rural credits, and would require capital punishment in specified Undoubtedly there is widespread demand for the removal of all doubt of the constitutionality of certain proposed laws for the protection of industrial laborers, especially workmen's compensation, but little manifestation of it has been evident in the present investigation.
Finally, the need for an easier method of amending the constitution is widely recognized and the popular initiative for constitutional amendments is frequently advocated. Indeed, one or two correspondents go to the extent of saying that they would be well content with the proposed convention if it should secure this reform alone.
Regarding the constitutional problem as a whole, one correspondent remarks,
I consider that the great fault with our governmental system is that not enough attention has been given to the great general principles that underlie government, and too much attention has been given to small matters, which might be otherwise regulated.
In a speech recently delivered at Nashville, Judge J. H. Malone, sometimes called the father of the present movement for constitutional revision, stressed the following needed alterations:
A change in the criminal jury system, to obtain more intelligence in the jury box instead of putting a premium on ignorance as requisite for jury service, as is the prevailing custom; abolishment of the fee system; taking the power to enact local or private legislation out of the hands of the state legislature; fewer elections; a procedure to lessen the amount of criminal costs; to exempt securities and state bonds from taxation; more power to the governor to suppress riots and call out the militia; a constitutional board of pardons.'
Capital punishment was almost completely abolished by statute in 1915. "Nashville Banner, Jan. 25, 1916.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM.
THE varied and numerous constitutional changes which were shown in Part II of this book to be part and parcel of modern political thought concerning the government of the states, indicate for the most part problems that the people of Tennessee must sooner or later recognize and solve. The last preceding chapter indicates that already some Tennesseans have under consideration most of them. It is the purpose of these conthe Chapter. cluding paragraphs to inquire where reform should begin and what changes should properly be undertaken first in order that all desirable changes may be accomplished most quickly, harmoniously and efficiently. In other words, this chapter seeks to ascertain which are most fundamental among those changes needed to realize in Tennessee the new state government that seems everywhere endeavoring to assert itself among the states of the Union.
The doctrine of popular sovereignty stands at the very basis of American political philosophy: the universal acceptance of democracy is an accomplished fact and, while the acceptance by the people of the responsibility which democracy entails has not in all cases been earnest and whole-hearted, no one now denies that it is the business of the people to guide their own course, to rule their own destiny. In doing this they must set up such governing bodies as the popular intelligence may deem wise and set apart certain functions or services for these gov ernmental agencies to perform. Society-the people viewed collectively must necessarily have various organs or instruments for the accomplishment of its varied ends, the attainment of its varied desires, and those citizens who hold public office simply constitute the active hand of society which it must use to do those things which individuals can do imperfectly or not at all.
If this theory of government is accepted the question of the form of democratic government becomes merely one of ways and means. Obviously there should be that kind of govern