January 22, 1891
NOT long since the World mentioned the appeal of the United States Court. “The appeal being taken,” says the World, “upon the plea that such a statute is an infringement of the Fourteenth Amendment in that it abridges the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States,” and then presents the following curious piece of political and constitutional wisdom:—
If this proposition can be maintained it may be addressed to a State Court as well as to the United States Court, and it comes within the provisions of the State as well as of the Federal Constitution. There is, in fact, no doubt that the State has power to prohibit labor on Sunday. It may even put silly and unjust restrictions on personal liberty. Such Sunday laws are bad, but the establishment of the right of the Federal Government to overturn State statutes would be worse. The “original package” decision carried us a good way in the wrong direction. We certainly should go no further. The more a citizen depends upon his State and the less the Federal Government touches him, the better for every individual and for our form of government.
How this proposition could be addressed to the State Court, it would be well for the World to explain—or rather it might be well for the World to explain how it thinks it could be addressed to the State Court at all. That provision of the United States Constitution is itself addressed to the States. It says, “No State shall make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The question of such a proposition can never arise except as between a State and a citizen of the United States.
These are the parties to the controversy; and yet the World presents the singular idea that the citizen of the United States is to appeal to the other party in the controversy for decision in his case. That is, one of the parties in this controversy is to be judge in its own case, and to decide for itself and for the other party the constitutionality of the question in dispute! The World would introduce a queer element into jurisprudence.
Again, by the statement that the establishment of the right of the Federal Government to overturn State statutes would be worse than Sunday laws, it seems that the World has not yet learned that this right has been established by a constitutional amendment for the last twenty-five years. In 1865 there was adopted an amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is the Fourteenth Amendment. It declares that “no State shall make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” That Amendment prohibits any State in this Nation from making any law having the effect named. More than this, it distinctly prohibits any State from enforcing any laws already made, having the effect named.
In a considerable number of the States when this Amendment was adopted there were laws of long standing which did abridge the privileges and immunities of persons who were by this Amendment made citizens of the United States, but from that time forth no one of these laws, no matter of how long standing, could be enforced. Therefore, by this Amendment it has been declared and established that the Federal Government has the right to overturn State statutes; and that the World at this late date should make such a remark as that, would imply that, in the matter of the Constitution of  the United States, that journal is not as well up with the times as its management in other directions demands that it should be.
It is true that the “original package” decision carried us a long way in the wrong direction, but that direction is not the one suggested by the World. Nor was it in one way only, that the “orginal [sic.] package” decision carried us a long way in the wrong.
It is likewise true that the “less the Federal Government touches him the better for every individual and for the Government.” But when the State, which ought to protect him, opposes him in the dearest rights that belong to men, that is, his religious convictions, then the Federal Government must touch him in the exercise of the supreme protective power which it must possess over its own citizens.
We can only say again that in the above argument the World sets forth a queer piece of political and constitutional wisdom. We wish it would try again.
A. T. J.