Congress or the Supreme Court: Which Shall Rule America?

By Egbert Ray Nichols | Go to book overview

THE SUPREME COURT v. CONGRESS*

Two years is a long time for an act such as NIRA to remain on the statute books before it is declared unconstitutional, currently complain some commentators. Is there no way to speed up judicial action? Get quicker determination of constitutionality?

In connection with such criticism a study of Supreme Court history reveals that most decisions of unconstitutionality of Congressional acts, among the 70 the Court has handed down, have not been so promptly rendered as the seven in 1934-35 invalidating New Deal legislation. On the average unconstitutional Federal statutes have run eight and a half years before being voided by the judicial test.

In 1868 the Court (in Reichart v. Felps) annulled an enactment that had been on the statute books 56 years. In at least three other instances the Court held legislation unconstitutional a third of a century or more after its enactment.

More radical than the objection that the Court takes too long to make decisions of unconstitutionality is the recurring challenge of its right to make such decisions at all.

"Usurpation," "Tyranny," "Dictatorial Power," cried the Court's severer critics in Congress as a result of its latest decisions.

____________________
*
Reprinted from the June 10, 1935, issue of the United States News, an independent publication, issued weekly at Washington, D. C.

-72-

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