(12th March 1937, Professor Harold J, Laski, professor of Political science at London university and well-known author and lecturer, left Waterloo station on the Manhattan boat train for a six weeks+ holiday in America)
The Courts of Capitalist Supremacy
(Quote of the Week)
Seventy years ago, British political philosopher and left-wing Labour Party member Harold Laski wrote perceptively about how the sham of American democracy is maintained and enforced. Laski emphasized that the laws and the Constitution exist for the purpose of safeguarding private property, and that the Supreme Court is an essential instrument in preserving the domination of the few over the many. The excerpt refers to Justice Samuel Freeman Miller, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Lincoln and served from 1862-90.
No one can honestly examine the history of the relations between labour and the courts without seeing that their result is to give the vested rights of property a special place in the American system…. The view of John Adams that unequal property is the necessary outcome of liberal institutions has found a wide echo on the judicial Bench. But once that has been assumed, the next step is quite naturally to argue that laws which seek to invade that inequality are themselves a source of danger to the stability of the commonwealth. The main technique has been to due process of law; and this has been interpreted to mean not what a normal reasonable man would be justified in regarding as just, but rather as a method of protecting the property the wealthy class has acquired and, therefore, the laws under which that property is safe. Due process of law is not a road, but a gate; and those to whom it bars admission are the masses in the community. It is a way of protecting the past legal rights of the few against the present legal claims of the many. And, as Mr. Justice Miller emphasized, the men to whom the task of protection is confided are for the most part the men who, before they reached the Bench, were already trained to insist that the legal rights the few have acquired must be made safe from invasion.
—The American Democracy, Harold J. Laski, 1948