Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today -100: February 22, 1912: Of martians, recalls, and duels

Headline of the Day -100: “What Martians Are Like.” Edmond Perrier, the director of the French Botanical Society, says they’re tall, like Scandinavians, but twice the size of human beings, with big noses and white hair and thin legs and no necks.

Addressing the Ohio constitutional convention, Theodore Roosevelt endorses the recall of judges (as well as other progressive causes such as the initiative, referendum, and direct election of senators and presidential electors), flatly disagreeing with the view that “the American people are not fitted for popular government, and that it is necessary to keep the judiciary ‘independent of the majority of the people.’” Just like Newt Gingrich! Though he does not say it, everyone knows that keeping the judiciary independent of the majority the people is a strongly held view of President Taft, who vetoed statehood for Arizona until it removed a provision for judicial recall from its constitution. TR, however, says that “it is both absurd and degrading to make a fetish of a judge or of any one else.” Of course, Scarlett Johansson hadn’t been invented yet. He gives as an example of the sort of judicial behaviour the people should be able to reverse by referendum the recent NY court of appeals decision striking down a workmen’s compensation act. He’s saying, basically, that the final say on the proper interpretation of the Constitution should belong to the people.

The NYT declares that by this speech, Roosevelt has removed himself from the Republican Party. The editorial declares him a dangerous radical.

The commander of the Palatine Guard at the Vatican, a nephew of the late Pope Leo XIII, challenges Prince Alberi to a duel. The pope sends him a letter telling him to knock it off.

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