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The method of disposition cannot be altered. Even Congress itself has been stopped when it sought to dispose of property of the United States without prior enactment of a bill. For example, Mr. Green Hackworth, then the State Department Legal Advisor, in 1943 denied that Congress itself had any right to dispose of Zone property by Joint
Resolution. In doing so he testified as to the state of the law on the
"The fact that our property rights in Panama
There are innumerable instances in which
under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 and
For his authority, Mr. Hackworth cited the opinion of the then
Attorney General, later Mr. Justice Harlan F. Stone,
It follows, then, that property once acquired
Hearings Before The Committee on Foreign
To the same effect, four years later, see U.S. v. State of California,
Two actions have been brought to challenge the claimed
authority of the Executive to dispose of the Canal Zone by treaty without first seeking prior authorizing legislation from the Congress. The plaintiffs in both cases were William R. Drummond, a citizen and resident of the Canal Zone, Senators Jesse A. Helms, James A. McClure, and Strom Thurmond,
and Representatives Daniel J. Flood, Lawrence P. McDonald, and M. Gene Snyder. Named as defendants in both cases were the Secretary of State, the chief U.S. negotiator in the Canal Zone, and the President.
One action was filed in the United States District Court for the Canal Zone and was dismissed on the ground that the Court could not secure personal jurisdiction over the defendants.
This question is now pending
on review before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The second action was brought in the United States District Court in the
District of Columbia. Both that Court and the Court of Appeals in the District refused to consider the merits on the ground that the issue was premature, that the lack of any specific treaty proposal left the issue too indefinite to be decided at that time. The Supreme Court declined to review the case last month. The result of this effort has simply been that the underlying question has been presented to five courts without any consideration of the merits on the underlying problem of the separation of Constitutional powers.
The problem of course is the danger of a fait accompli, that the President through his control powers over the Canal Zone could permit it to be occupied by Panamanian forces without resistance before the constitutionality of any treaty can be tested. In fact Ambassador Bunker was once quoted by the State Department as suggesting that this be done even without waiting for a treaty.
Summary and Conclusion
The political stability of the Untied States has since the inception of the nation been based upon the Constitutional principle of the separation of powers between the three great branches of government. Both Houses of the Congress should be jealous to protect the powers granted to them by the Constitution from being usurped by a coordinate branch of government.
Here, the Executive, with the hoped-for assistance of the
Senate, is proposing to usurp the authority of the House of Representatives on the disposition of property of the United States. If this can be done in the case of the Canal Zone, it can be done in the cases of Guantanamo, Guam, or Samoa. If the treaty power may override the legislation of Congress, then by a treaty with Mexico the Executive could presumably give back Texas, or grant Florida back to Spain.
If the Canal Zone is permitted to be occupied by Panamanian forces before the legal questions on the separation of powers can be determined by our Courts, there is no possibility short of war of ousting those forces if the proposed treaty should thereafter be declared void.
Senator ALLEN. Governor Parfitt is our next witness.
Governor Parfitt, we certainly thank you for the fine effort you have made in coming to appear before the subcommittee.
I have read your very excellent statement. It gives more background information about the Canal Zone and the Panama Canal and the Governor of Panama than we have obtained from any other source.
The questioning of the first witness has brought up so many facets of the problem that we have fallen far behind in our time frame. I am hopeful, inasmuch as your statement in the main touches upon facts and background rather than expressions of opinion and views and policies, that you might be willing to touch on some of the highlights of your statement and then give us an opportunity to ask you some questions, with the understanding of course that your full statement will appear in the record.
Would you oblige the committee to that extent, please?
Mr. PARFITT. Yes, sir. I have abbreviated my statement for this purpose. If 15 minutes would be appropriate, I will try to condense it to that time frame.
Senator ALLEN. Without objection, your statement will be included in the record in full.
TESTIMONY OF HON. HAROLD R. PARFITT, GOVERNOR OF THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE
Mr. PARFITT. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Harold R. Parfitt, Governor of the Canal Zone and the President of the Panama Canal Company.
My statement addresses the questions in your letter of invitation to attend these hearings. With your permission, as just stated, I would like to cover the highlights now and commit the full text for the record. Senator ALLEN. Very fine. We appreciate that.
Senator HATCH. Before you begin, may I make one comment, Mr. Chairman? I have made a brief study of the constitutional issues involved here, and now have the benefit of Mr. Leonard's expertise. Mr. Leonard was previously with the Justice Department. I would like to see a refutation to his brief, because I think he is basically correct. We should encourage the testimony of witnesses or experts who might be inclined to refute what he had to say. In fact, I would delight in the prospect of doing that.
Senator ALLEN. I thank the Senator. There are several witnesses scheduled to testify who do have opposing views to those expressed by Mr. Leonard.
Senator HATCH. I thank the Chairman.
Senator ALLEN. The subcommittee wants, obviously, to hear all sides if there are more than two sides to this issue.
Governor Parfitt, please proceed.
Governor PARFITT. Mr. Chairman, as a preface I should note that matters relating to the defense of the Panama Canal or the conduct, status, or substance of negotiations for a new treaty relationship with the Republic of Panama are outside my area of responsibility.
I would like to give you very briefly some background information about the Canal Zone and the operation of the Panama Canal.