Selected Papers of Homer Cummings, Attorney General of the United States, 1933-1939

By Homer S. Cummings; Carl Brent Swisher | Go to book overview

3. Early Problems

The legal problems raised by emergency legislation; from a radio address on "The Department of Justice and the New Deal," June 10, 1933:

UNUSUAL and difficult questions undoubtedly confront us. The field of administrative law, already clouded by much uncertainty, is being widely extended. The functions and limitations of the various departments and agencies of government have taken on new aspects; and the attainment of administrative unity in this vast complex of powers presents a fascinating problem. There is, for example, an increasingly intimate relationship between the Department of Justice and the other departments of government in connection with the extended administrative functions which recent legislation has created. * * *

My duty is not to make new law, but to construe and uphold the law and the Constitution as applied and interpreted by the courts. Equally, it is my duty to help give practical effect to the ends sought by the recent legislation and the policies of the administration. In this effort I shall hope to be governed by a sense of economic realism rather than by any narrow legalism-- to be helpful and constructive rather than hypertechnical or reactionary; and to make the application and interpretation of these emergency laws fit not only into our established jurisprudence, but also into the new patterns of economic planning and broad statesmanship which these disturbed times demand.


From a second address in the National Radio Forum, January 10, 1934:

In numbers of opinions rendered, new legislation and executive orders reviewed, and in many other phases of civil activity, including gold hoarding, National Recovery Administration mat-

-11-

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