Cherokee Phoenix

The state of Georgia, by the late proceedings of her legislature, is placed in a situation of open h

Published February, 12, 1831

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The state of Georgia, by the late proceedings of her legislature, is placed in a situation of open hostility to the United States government. The ground taken by this state is nothing less than a forcible resistance to legal process issuing under the authority of the Chief Justice of the United States. On the result of this controversy, in our judgment, depend the integrity of the Union. If the State of Georgia are suffered to resist the authority of the court, and the execution of the laws, she is in warfare with the national government, the Constitution is prostrated, and the Confederation is in effect dissolved. It is in vain to shut our eyes to this matter. Nothing is plainer, nothing more absolutely certain, than the fact, that if it is competent for a state to prevent the exercise of the power and authority of one of the three great branches of the national government, that government is destroyed. If the Judiciary is overturned, and its functions rendered inoperative, one main pillar of the system is removed, and the edifice must fall into ruins. The existence and security of the Judicial division of the government is as essential to its welfare, and stability, as is that of the Legislature, or Executive. And the Judiciary cannot exist, if there is any extraneous power, not known to the constitution, which can check its proceedings, or set at defiance its authority. It is in vain to set up hue and cry of danger to the sovereignty of the states, merely because one of them wants to drive off from their lands a few thousand Indians and plunder them of their property, the sovereignty of the states is in no more danger from the jurisdiction and authority of the United States now, than it has been for forty years. The mater in dispute, which has caused this violence on the part of the legislature of Georgia, has been produced by themselves. They set up illegal and unconstitutional claims in the first place-unfortunately they obtained opinions from the present executive, and of his cabinet, which encouraged them in their unconstitutional course of conduct, until they have proceeded to the length of declaring open and forcible resistance to the laws of the Union.

The question must now be settled, which is to conduct the affairs of the nation-the national government, or the state of Georgia? What course will be pursued we have no means of determining. If, as we fully expect to hear, the step taken by the state cannot be retraced. The writ of error, which was intended to decide in a constitutional mode, the great constitutional question between the state of Georgia and the United States, may be defeated. But there are other modes of bringing the subject before the Court. If the Indian has been executed, the sheriff who was concerned in the act, may be indicted, or brought within the jurisdiction of the Court in some other manner. His justification must be under the authority of the laws of Georgia. Such a defence will bring the constitutionality of those laws into discussion; and the state of the affair must depend upon the decision of that question. But, the state of Georgia may, under the influence of the passions by which her councils are now governed, resist any attempt to bring the affair before the court. This will be war against the United States, ' will subject those concerned in it to the more serious charge of treason.

In the mean time, it will be a matter of no trifling interest, to see what course the President of the United States will pursue in relation to this subject. He is bound by all the obligations which influence honest men, to support the laws and constitution of the country. He cannot, without rendering himself liable to impeachment, set up his own judgment as the sole standard of his conduct, and refuse to enforce a law, which, in the plenitude of his wisdom, he may consider unconstitutional. This is a question which it does not fall within his province to decide. A single provision will settle this point. By the Constitution, if the President disapprove of a bill which has passed both houses, on any ground, and that of unconstitutionality is one of the most common reasons. If the houses, after reconsideration, still pass the bill by the constitutional majority, the Constitution says, 'It shall become a law.' This provision applies to bills of all descriptions; and, therefore, if they have been returned on the ground of unconstitutionality, in the opinion of the executive, and still pass, they become laws. Becoming laws, they must be obeyed as such by the President of the United States, as well as the humblest member of the community; or else we have one officer who is above the law. The President, then, in case of resistance to the authority of the Judicial tribunals, and the precess of law, must enforce obedience to the laws at all hazards. A refusal will necessarily render him liable to impeachment, whatever sentiments he may entertain of the Constitution, or of the laws.-

N. Y. Adv.