Up and Down Is Across—the Elevator Decision
By the time America entered the Second World War in 1941, there remained on the Supreme Court only two judges who had not been named by President Roosevelt. They were Justices Stone and Roberts—and Justice Stone owed his appointment as Chief Justice to the President. In the pre-war and war years this packed Court proceeded to perform a major operation on the Constitution of the United States by removing many of its vital organs. Succeeding justices named by President Truman, and particularly by President Elsenhower, about completed the job—so much so that we might say that the body of the Constitution remains, but only as a mere shell, devoid of arteries, veins, heart, and lungs. And in the manner of quack medicine men, they performed the operation without the permission of either the patient or his guardians.
There is only one legal way in which the Constitution can be changed—by amendment initiated by the sovereign states or by the Congress and concurred in by three fourths of the states. These nine judges simply usurped the powers of the states and the people’s representatives and tore to pieces the charter of freedom of the American people.
In farming and agriculture, the Court made possible that myriad of bureaus and bureaucrats which has nearly returned the once free and independent American farmer to European serfdom. Only, now, the serfdom is to an all-pervading and all-powerful central government instead of to individual autocratic barons. The Court has made possible the fantastic circus of the past decade and a half in which billions of dollars are taken from American taxpayers and paid to farmers in order to keep prices of farm products high to those same taxpayers. And we have had the almost obscene spectacle in the “land of the free” of a farmer being forced to pay a fine to the federal bureaucrats because he raised some extra wheat—over and above the decreed quota—to feed to his own hogs or to grind into flour for his own bread. A single example, among many, is that of Dr. P. S. Whiteleather, a Minerva, Ohio, physician who owns a 150-acre farm. He was fined $450 for overplanting his wheat allotment in 1954. The government has been trying to collect the fine ever since, but Dr. Whiteleather, in 1957, declared it would have to foreclose on his $25,000 farm to collect the penalty. Other farmers, wanting to hold onto their land, pay up meekly.
In industry, with the blessing of the Court, the federal bureaucrats swarm over what was once known as “free enterprise,” tell it whom, when, where and how to hire and fire and for what it must sell its products. And over the American worker (we must admit, in many instances with his acquiescence) the Court has placed the heavy and often corrupt hand of the politically minded labor leader—a process which brings us up against a union monopoly much more terrifying, because of the numbers and funds involved, than the old trust monopolies against which modern-day “liberals” still inveigh.
With the appointment of the new judges by President Roosevelt from 1937 on, the socialist revolutionaries in America had what they needed—a Supreme Court which would ignore the rights of the states and set up the central government in Washington as the all-powerful element in American life.
The justices went about their demolition job on the Constitution in the manner characteristic of our social revolutionaries of the past twenty years. They simply changed the meaning of a few words and phrases whose true intent had been thoroughly understood—and interpreted—by Supreme Courts for 148 years. The diabolical cunning involved in this usurpation by the judges of the rights of states and citizens is easily illustrated.
The destruction of the rights of the states was the primary objective because, as we have pointed out, in no other way could a collectivist society be imposed on America. In 1942, in the midst of our first year of fighting in the Second World War, when nobody was paying much attention to the Supreme Court, Justice Frankfurter struck a major blow for the Constitution wreckers. He did it by twisting out of all recognition one little phrase in the Constitution which gives the federal government power over “interstate commerce.” The Constitution left in the hands of the sovereign states all powers of regulation over their internal trade, business, and commercial operations. But it recognized that when citizens of one state traded with citizens of another state, the only possible regulatory body could be the Congress in Washington. And so it gave Congress the right to regulate trade which crossed state lines. That trade, and that alone, came within the regulatory power of the federal government, and it had been so held by innumerable Supreme Courts.
But this did not suit Justice Frankfurter and his revolutionary cohorts on the court. He cooked up a brand-new decision (A.B. Kirschbaum v. Walling)—with no precedent in law or fact—by which the federal government might intrude into purely state functions. One of the tenants of a loft building in a New Jersey town was a clothing manufacturer who sold most of his products in other states. He was, clearly, in interstate commerce and thus subject to federal regulation.
But Justice Frankfurter declared that the building—inside a town inside the sovereign state of New Jersey—was also engaged in interstate commerce because that one tenant, among many others, was engaged in interstate commerce. And that wasn’t all. By means of his judicial “reasoning,” Justice Frankfurter went further, saying that, because the building was in interstate commerce, so was the elevator man who ran the elevator up and down in the building, and the women who washed the windows!
If you, a small businessman—or you, a worker in an industry within a state—or you, just an average citizen going about your daily duties—ever wonder how it has come about that the reaching arm of the Washington politician has come to rest so heavily on all your activities, there is your answer, supplied by Justice Frankfurter.
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