General Johnson's uneasy exit from the NRA as the one-man power has overshadowed the revelation Saturday that Lewis Dembitz Brandeis, Justice of the Supreme Court, has been one of his advisors. As Frank Kent points out, those who have been looking for the mind which has shaped important measures feel that they have found their answer. For Mr. Justice Brandeis, formerly a showed Boston lawyer, has at least offered advice to the Administration and may have played a leading role.
Regardless of the qualifications which Mr. Justice Brandeis has for an advisory position, a more important issue is raised. That a Justice of the Supreme Court should counsel either the Executive or the Legislature is without known procedent. The decisions which he and his colleagues make from the Beach cannot be revered, and it is only in the courtroom where he is supposed to comment on governmental matters. The division between the Executive and Legislative branches has certainly become less sharp these last two years. Congress has entrusted some of its powers to the President and has yielded others to organizations like the NRA and AAA which by simple decree exercise them. As a result the representatives that the people have elected to make laws for them have given away their privilege to officials appointed by the President.
The line has always been even more tightly drawn that the Supreme Court should remain an independent, non-partisan body, subject only to that bedraggled document, the Constitution. The moment that a Justice begins to advise on matters of public moment, his position begins to loss its sanctity, and he becomes subordinate to the political views of the Executive. Perhaps the tendency to concentrate the government in the Executive branch may continue, but until approval is won after serious debate, even such capable men as Judge Brandeis must assist in preserving the present structure of government.