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BOOK REVIEWS.

THE POLITICAL Ecosons of NATURAL LAW. By HENRY

Woon. Boston: Lee & Shepard, Publishers, 1894.

It is not the function of a law magazine to review economic literature. Natural law is not a subject with which the lawyer deals, and yet, since we have taken the trouble to read this book, and since we know several members of the bar who are more or less interested in cconomic subjects, we desire to say that it is the worst of a very bad lot that shall be nameless. The writer seems to be imbued with one idea, and one idea only, and that is, that natural law must never be interfered with under any circumstances and conditions. Individual lines of action “are often in harmonious and contrary, while the operations of natural law are consistent and harmonious." What this natural law is about which Mr. Wood talked so fluently we do not know, and we have a suspicion the author does not know, either. For instance, what does he mean by this: " Its different factors may modify or counteract, but never oppose cach other, for truth cannot be in opposition to truth. Its . only warfare is with crror, and its complete victory is simply a question of timc." Or, again, what is mcant by, “ Natural law, being normal, is truthful;" or, of the natural law in the economic realm was one of the many subdivisions of the universal natural law or the grand unity of truth.” Shade of Sir Henry Maine! Would that that author, when he wrote the history of the idcas which, during the different stages of the world's development, have gathered around the idea of the word "natural,” could have seen this curious conglamoration and mixture of ideas, which, revolving in the mind of Mr. Wood, came to light in these pages.

We speak thus harshly of this work, which we would otherwise ignor, for the following reasons: The science of political economy or economics is a noble science as noble, perhaps,

as the science of law, and certainly requiring just as deep rescarch, just as cfficient study, and just as clcar a mind. Suppose that, to-day, there should be wri:ten a work on the law of contracts, which, disregarding all the decisions of the court, all that had ever been written or said, produced a work that one who had never studied law would write, would it not then bc the duty of every man who cared for the science of law to condemn that book? The book and the writer would be masquerading under a title which they had no right to. Now, this sort of thing is what we believe only happens too frequently in political cconomy or cconomics. Men cntirely unfamiliar with the literature of the subjcct, or who have never taken the trouble to cxamine the facts of the actual world, write out their own idcas, or what they arc plcased to call ideas, gathered with little trouble and less thought, and label the whole “ Political Economy" or Economics," or some title by which the innocent reader will be deluded into thinking that the author is a student of the subject. do not consider as fair. It would not be fair in law, and it is not fair in cconomics. It is not fair to the micn who are spending their lives trying to make the cconomic and social laws plain. Such a buok as this tends to throw ridiculc around the valuable labors of others. Publishers like the ones whose names are on this work should regret that it is there.

W. D. L.

This we

CASES OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. Part I. With Notes by

JAMES BRADLEY THAYER. LL.D., Weld Professor of Law at llarvard University. Cambridge: Charles W. Sever, 1894.

This work is the first part of a collection of cascs on Constitutional Law which have been looked forward to for some time by those of the profession interested in that subject. The high position of the writer gave promise of a valuable work, and the result, so far, more than comes up to our expectations.

Casc books from thc Harvard Law School have become so familiar to members of the profession, that it is almost

unnecessary to describe their character. The present collection opens with some preliminary quotations on government taken from Aristotle, Montesqusui, Holland, Blackstone, etc. The principal English decisions on prerogative of the crown are given ; but the most interesting cases in the volume are those which illustrate the rise of that peculiar “ American doctrine" of Constitutional Law, the power of the judiciary to declare an Act of the Legislature contrary to the Constitution void. The cases of Rut: crs v. Waddington and Trevctt v. Wecden will always have a lasting interest for the student of this subject. The first of these is reprinted from a pamphlet of Mr. Hcnry B. Dawson, published in 1866. The court did not really assert, though they implied, tirat they had the power to set aside a statute as being contrary to the Constitution. New York had passed an act which, in terms, would have pernitted one, who, during the Revolutionary War, had had his premises occupicd by foreign troops, to bring a suit in trespass against such person. The court thought that to apply the statute so as to cover such a casc, after the trcaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, was to imply that the Legislature of the State of New York desired to set aside the law of nations, an implication which the court refused to make. Whoever, then," they say, “is clearly exempted from the operation of this statute by the law of nations, this court must take it for granted, could never have been intended to be comprehended within it by the Legislature ..." This very modcratc decision scems to have aroused public feeling to such an extent that a mass mceting avas held, which issued an address, parts of which read strangely to us after a hundred years of experience of State Legislatures, on the one hand, trampling on the rights of individuals, and courts of justice on the other, standing between the individual and the arbitrary action of the State. The quotation from the address runs as follows:

“ From what has been said, we think that no one can doubt the meaning of the law. It remains to inquire whether a court of judicature can consistently, with our Constitution and laws, adjudge contrary to the plan and obvious meaning of a statute.

That the mayors' courts have done so in this case is manifest from the foregoing remarks. That there should be a power ve-ted in courts of judicaturc, wlicrchy they might control the supreme lc:rislative power, we think is absurd in itself. Such pozart in courts could be destructive of liberty and remo's all security of property. The design of courts of justice in our government, from the very nature of their institution, is to declare laws, not to alter them. Whenever they depart from this design of their institution, they confound legislative and judicial powers. The laws govern where a government is frec, and

cvcry citizen knows what remcdy the law gives him for cvery injury. But this cannot be the case where courts, if they cluem a law unrcasonable, may set it aside. Here, however plainly thc law may be in his favor, he cannot be certain of redress until he has the opinion of the court." At the same time, the House of Assembly resolved, " That thc judgment aforesaid is, in its tendency, subversive of all law and good orier, and leads directly to anarchy and confusion; bccause, if a court instituted for the benefit and government of a corporation may take upon them to dispense with and act in diruct violation of a plain and known law of the Statc, all other courts, cither supcrior or inferior, may do the like; and therewith will cnd all our dear bought rights and privileges, and legislatures becomc uscless."

In the report of Trevctt 2. Weeden, we regret that the argument of Mr. Varum was omitted. Mr. Varum's specch would have added a great deal to the value of the report of the case, as it places in extenso the rcasons on which the judges probably reached their decision. There is no opinion of the court, but Prof. Thaler has printed the reply of the judges to the General Assembly when they were summoned bcfore them to explain why thcy had declared an act of the Assembly void.

In this part of the work Prof. Thayer has used freely the material collected by the late Brixton Coxe, Esq., of Philadelphia, and printed in his posthumous work on “ Judicial Power and Unconstitutional Legislation," which we had such pleasure in reviewing at length on page 76 of the current

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volume of the ANEKICAS LAN REGISTEK AND REVIEW. Some of the most interesting parts of Mr. Coxe's work arc thus preserved with full permission of Mr. Coxe's cditor, WILLIAM M. Meigs, Esq., in a place where they will be apt to reach a larger class of readers. There are few more interesting things in the whole work, than the report of the case which came before thc Hanscatic Court of Upper Appeal at Lubeck, in which that court decided that even when constitutional provisions do not exist, prohibiting an official attesting, the legal validity of ordinances of the sovereign, which have not been authenticated in duc form, the judge has, according to general legal principles, both the authority and the duty of rcfusing to apply an ordinance of the sovereign which, while its provisions are those of a law, has not been enacted according to the forms prescribed for making law by the Constitution of the land. This decision has since been overruled, but it is interesting as the only modern example of a civil law court attempting to hold the government to the provisions of a written Constitution. On page 149 to 154 inclusive and in other parts of the work the author has reprinted the major portions of his article in the Harvard Law Raiw on the “Origin and Scope of the American Doctrine of Constitutional Law."

The report of the case of Fletcher '. Peck, as an illustration of the power of the courts to set aside unconstitutional legislation, leads us to mention one apparent difficulty in this system of reporting cases illustrative of the different branches of a subject. Fletcher 9. Peck, while it is an excellent illustration of how the courts of the United States can declare an act of the State contrary to the Federal Constitution void, has its chief importance not in that fact, but in the fact that it is a case where the Supreme Court first declared that a grant of land was a contract which the State could not impair

. The decision in this last respect was fraught with consequences which are still being worked out. It is a matter of speculation, for instance, whether the Dartmouth College Case would have been placed upon the ground that the Act altering the charter violated a contract, and not on the ground that it confiscated property, had the opinion in Fletcher v. Peck never

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