Monday, February 20, 2012

Today -100: February 20, 1912: Of justices, corruption, lynchings, and republican forms of government

President Taft nominates Mahlon Pitney to fill the vacant Supreme Court position. Pitney is a former congresscritter, a former justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and is currently Chancellor of New Jersey, whatever that means. He was also the great-grandfather of actor Christopher Reeve.

Sen. Isaac Stephenson (R-Wisc) is exonerated by a Senate committee of a charge of winning his seat through corruption. The minority report, however, signed by 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats, notes that he spent $107,793 on his 1908 campaign and that the state legislators who supported him also spent large sums, saying (actually quoting the majority report), “Such expenditures were in violation of the fundamental principles underlying our system of Government, which contemplated the selection of candidates by the electors and not the selection of electors by the candidate.” How quaint.

Secretary of State Knox has decided not to go to Colombia after all.

A Shelby, Tenn. mob keeps trying to lynch three black men accused of killing a railroad cop who “had tried to quiet boisterous negroes in the ‘Jim Crow’ car.” In two separate attacks, the mob has killed one of the men and wounded the others.

The Supreme Court, in a case brought by the Pacific States Telegraph and Telephone Company, refuses to declare the provisions in the Oregon constitution for initiatives and referenda unconstitutional, although its ruling is on jurisdictional grounds, saying it is up to Congress to decide if they violate the Constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government.

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