Quarrels between administrative officials of the Government have been numerous of late. But it is somewhat of a novelty to see accusations directed by the chief law officer of the Federal Government against a Federal Judge; and the novelty cannot help striking us most unfavorably.
In the recent "Red" trials in Boston the University has had some degree of interest, due partly to the activities of the Dean and various members of the Faculty of the Law School. In the eyes of most of us, Judge Anderson appears only to have performed the ordinary functions of a Court, in safeguarding the rights of the individual. In his criticism of arbitrary acts of government officials, we cannot see that he has merited such censure as the Attorney General sees fit to give him. The Attorney General admits the truth of the "telegraphic warrant" arrests which have provoked such widespread indignation against his Department. And in regard to search and seizure of documents, he declares that search warrants were secured "in every instance practicable." We had thought that the Constitution rather required such warrants in every case, regardless of whether or not officials considered it "practicable." And with regard to the alleged use of agents provocateurs by the Department of Justice, Judge Anderson acted only after examination of witnesses in open court.
It seems clear that in dealing with the Red menace, government agents have occasionally allowed popular hysteria to serve as a cloak for illegal acts. In such cases the courts exist to give redress. The Americanism of Judge Anderson may not be quite as blatant or showy as other brands of the same name. But it is none the less in accordance with the best American traditions. In granting the law's protection to the accused, he has only fulfilled his duty. As a member of the American bench, he could not well have done otherwise.