James R. Garfield, Secretary of the Interior under President Roosevelt '80, spoke yesterday afternoon under the auspices of the Harvard Roosevelt Club on "The Political Situation."
Interpretation to Suit Needs
The fundamental principles of government, said Mr. Garfield, must be learned not alone from text-books, but from experience and contact with men. Our state constitutions adopted ten, fifty, or a hundred years ago can not be applied to modern conditions without change. Chief Justic Marshall saw that the Federal Constitution must grow and by his wise decisions did not hamper Congress in its extension of the powers granted in the commerce clause of the Constitution. Those states are advancing ahead of their neighbors whose courts have similarly been most liberal in the construction of their several constitutions. To fulfill their purpose constitutions and laws must conform to the needs of the people and not be allowed to obstruct progress.
Clash of Courts and Legislatures
The legislature of New York State recently passed a workman's compensation act, a much needed measure, which the highest court threw out as unconstitutional. In doing this, the court exercised a legislative function, a power which the courts of no other country attempt to exercise. It is in these cases where the judiciary and the legislature clash, that Mr. Roosevelt wishes the decision submitted to the people for their final arbitration.
Relation Between Taft and Roosevelt
Mr. Garfield then turned to discuss the relations between Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Taft. The policies overwhelmingly approved by the people in the election of 1908 were those of Roosevelt and the Progressives, conservation, corporation control, and tariff reduction. In each of these Taft has failed to carry on his predecessor's policy or to fulfill the promises of himself or of the Republican party. He has taken reactionaries as political advisers and has misused his executive power, as he afterwards admitted, by not heeding the recommendations of appointment made by progressive Senators.
A man is entitled to nothing that he does not earn by earnest, honest, efficient work. President Taft is not entitled to renomination. Those who charge Roosevelt with disloyalty are ignorant of the facts or wish to mislead the people. Roosevelt was never truer to his ideals and duties as a citizen than when he accepted the call to leadership in this struggle for political progress.