Congress or the Supreme Court: Which Shall Rule America?

By Egbert Ray Nichols | Go to book overview

THE SUPREME COURT*

CHARLES EVANS HUGHES

Much of the criticism of the Court deals with what is occasional rather than typical. In looking to the future, the fundamental questions are these: Are we ready to give up a written constitution with its definition of powers?

Do we desire to abandon our dual system and to confer upon a single legislature the supreme authority of the people through a completely centralized government?

If we maintain our dual system and a written constitution, with the limitations essential to such a plan, do we wish to attempt to define more specifically in the Constitution the division of authority as, for example, in relation to interstate commerce?

Is it likely that we could make a success of such a plan?

If we prefer to retain the dual system and limited governmental powers, are we ready to give to Congress the final determination whether the States exceed the powers retained by them or whether Congress transcends the limitations of its own powers?

If not, what substitute is there to suggest for the Supreme Court?

____________________
*
Extract from lecture delivered at Columbia University in 1928. Reprinted from Hughes: The Supreme Court in the United States, by Permission of Columbia University Press.

-389-

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