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The Committee on Appointment of New Commissioners, in their report giving the commissioners constituting this conference, have brought forward the names of commissioners from all these states.
The Secretary, in endeavoring to complete the records as to commissioners, which the By-laws require, was informed by the Governors of California, Delaware, Nebraska and South Carolina that there were no commissioners from those states. No report was received from Arkansas. He was further advised that in these states there is no provision for the appointment of such commissioners or for paying their expenses.
The commissioners from the District of Columbia have resigned.
There is no record in the Secretary's office, except as it is found in the printed reports, showing what states have legislative authority for the appointment of commissioners, but from said reports and the information received during the year the following list of jurisdictions where commissioners have been appointed under legislative authority is believed to be correct: Alaska,
Massachusetts, Philippine Islands.
New Hampshire, Utah,
During the year the Secretary has written about five hundred letters, has mailed about two thousand other packages or items of mail matter consisting of circulars, pamphlets, copies of proceedings, etc., in addition to sending out a large number of express packages. This has involved a large amount of labor, especially as much of this matter has been subject to parcel post rates so that every package had to be weighed, its zone determined, its postage figured and placed upon the package. In addition it has been a matter of considerable time to prepare mailing lists and collect data relating to the action taken by different legislatures, the dates of appointments of commissioners and other matters which have called for the attention of the Secretary.
Your Secretary has received from the Conference, to be accounted for, the sum of two hundred dollars, which has been disbursed as follows:
Express and freight on reports and printed matter
3.64 Two letter files......
.50 Stamped envelopes and postage...
100.53 Manila envelopes
7.95 Printing and miscellaneous expenses.
$177.30 In conclusion permit the Secretary to suggest for your consideration the following:
1. There should be a record book for this Conference in which should be recorded the date of approval of all acts approved by the Conference, a copy of the act and the vote approving the same.
2. A record, as required by the By-laws, showing the names of the commissioners, their addresses, the date of their respective appointments and their respective terms of service.
3. A record of the persons attending the different Conferences. If a loose leaf record book were adopted, the signatures of all those attending, who register, could be inserted and made a permanent record.
4. Some plan should be devised so that the Secretary's office would have official information and a record of the action of the different states with relation to the various uniform acts, the
date when adopted, the number of the act of the legislature adopting the same, and of other action affecting uniformity.
5. Some consistent, aggressive plan should be devised to procure in all the states the enactment of a bill creating a Board of Commissioners for the Promotion of Uniformity of Legislation in the United States, providing for the payment of the expenses of the commissioners, and for some appropriation to the work of this Conference.
6. To promote uniformity something more than the approval of acts by this Conference is necessary. We have now approved so many acts, and will probably approve other important acts at this Conference, that the attention of the Conference should be directed to some systematic aggressive work looking to the passage of the acts approved by this Conference by the various legislatures.
7. The Conference should provide itself with such literature as is necessary and desirable to aid in procuring the enactment by the various state legislatures of the Uniform Acts in such form as to be available when needed. The briefs and annotations used by the Conference in its consideration of the acts are extremely helpful in this regard. Experience before legislative committees shows that if the act is well annotated it greatly facilitates answering questions which are sure to be propounded.
8. The American Year Book, although referring to Uniform State Laws, does not refer to the Conference of Commissioners. It does refer to the American Bar Association and to the American Bankers Association as having to do with this movement. Some action should be taken to make the work of this Conference so generally known, that this Conference should everywhere be immediately associated with uniformity of legislation.
9. A complete file of the printed proceedings should be obtained and bound for the Secretary's office.
10. There should be an appropriation for the clerical assistance required in the Secretary's office.
GEO. B. YOUNG,
CHARLES THADDEUS TERRY.
UNIFORMITY—A RECIPROCAL DUTY OF THE LAW-MAKERS
AND THE ELECTORATE. The assumption that legislators acquire a certain omniscience by virtue of the mere fact of their election to office is a lamentable error, and has led to many disasters in the course of governmental processes.
The further assumption that laws will, in some occult or mysterious way, enforce themselves, is likewise a deplorable mistake, all too common to our easy-going civic conscience.
Couple together these two fundamental misconceptions and it may, perhaps, be asserted with reasonable justification, that you have the explanation of mạch of the defectiveness of our so-called
government of laws.” The law as a rule of conduct, in a democracy, is predicated upon the condition that it emanates from the people themselves, whose conduct is to be ruled, and is enforced by them in the self same spirit in which it was originally promulgated. It would seem to be sufficiently obvious that there can be no break or interruption in the line of the popular intention, as to what the rule shall be from the moment of its initiation to the moment of its full consummation in the application of it to the daily routine of life, if the true theory of democratic government is to be given a fair test. If there can be no interruption in the course of the exercise of this volition, much less can there be a divorcement between the source and the ultimate outflow. One might as well seek to ignore the seed when contemplating the fruit, or forget the fruit when considering the seed. The system must be taken as a whole, or it must be abandoned. No fragment of it, taken alone, is of much, if any, value.
It is submitted that we have too long allowed ourselves to be misled by the supposition that the legislatures“ make the laws." They do not. The supposition is very far from the truth. There
has been much loss of progress, much loss of efficiency, and much loss of accomplishment, by indulgence in the initial error embodied in the familiar phrase which has sometimes passed for a definition of one of our branches of government, namely: that “ legislatures make the laws.” It has not been the first time, nor will it be the last time, that efforts of prime importance are thrown into disorder and robbed of much, if not all of their forcefulness by the blind following of a phrase.
Legislatures find their legitimate sphere in the enactment of statutes, and should serve only as an instrument to record the peoples' will, which, before such enactment, shall express itself in terms of policy, and, after such enactment, shall use the record simply as a basis for the application of such policy to its own affairs. The legislature is, in fact, but an intermediate device for formulation and not, in any sense, a source nor an executive factor. Those two functions, one at each end of the process, belong alike to the electorate.
The means should not be confused with the end. The crystallization, into the form of statute, of the sentiment respecting the proper ordering of conduct, is only one step in the process—an important step to be sure—but still one which falls far short of the end to be reached. Responsibility is not discharged until the statute has been made an integral part of the machinery of the state, and is continuously employed in the regulation of its affairs.
These reflections have an intimate bearing upon the obligations assumed by every commissioner when he takes his solemn oath of office. His fealty to the cause, which he swears to serve, requires that, without cessation, he contribute liberally of his time, his experience, and his efforts at three of the four stages of statutory progress, namely: the second stage, that which consists of the moulding of state laws into uniformity of shape, and of substance; the third, that which consists in invoking the power of the legislature to impress with the stamp of its official approval, the standardization of the laws thus recast by the Conference; and fourth, that which consists in enlisting the co-operation of members of the Bar, whether upon the Bench in judicial position, or, off the Bench, in the ranks of the practitioners, to frame their arguments, or their opinions, as the case may be, in obedience to