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Jack Weber

March of Events

Supreme Court Deliberates
Debts and Gold
Hughes Is Shrewd
Perpetuating Rule of Rich

(19 January 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 6, 19 January 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The judicial arm of the American capitalist government has played an inconsequential role during the period of crisis and the NRA. The august judges, than whom there would seem to be no higher authority but God himself, have felt rather aggrieved at being so completely eclipsed by the executive power in the hands of Roosevelt. But such power on the part of the executive authority becomes inevitable whenever a major crisis threatens the very foundations ol bourgeois rule. There is nothing, in this respect, so firmly established concerning capitalist society, as that the boss class will violate every single law set up by itself, if these laws stand in the way of the fundamental interests or the continued existence of the ruling class. For that matter the ordinary “rights” won by the workers under bourgeois democracy are violated with impunity day by day. In regard to such violations of workers’ rights by the exploiting class, the whole system of courts, including the Supreme Court when the interests of the class in power as a whole are involved, becomes merely a cloak for the proper veiling of class justice from the naive vision of the masses.

But the courts also exist, not merely in their role of judicial means of oppression of the exploited classes by the oppressors, but also to “keep the arena” where property interests come into conflict, causing, at times, deep-going differences within the ruling class itself. In such cases the Supreme Court may be called upon to render a decision generally in accord with the historic interests of the upper strata of the ruling class. The Supreme Court is now “deliberating” over the government’s abrogation of its gold contracts when it went off the gold standard.

* * *

Case of the Gold Standard

It was to the interests of the capitalists, in order to maintain their power and to prevent an even worse collapse of their system than actually occurred, to scale down the entire debt structure within American economy. It was also to the interests of the big financiers to lay the greatest burden of the crisis on the backs of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie. By depreciating the currency these aims were achieved.

Such depreciation amounted to wholesale expropriation of the wealth in the form of savings, common stock, insurance, etc., held by the small people. The big financiers were capable of protecting their own interests so that their wealth was not expropriated at all or to a minor extent as compared with the other classes. Furthermore, going “off gold” or depreciating the currency met the demands of competition for foreign trade due to the money manipulations of other countries. For the working class there was involved a subtle wage cut by this process.

In view of all these effects of the abrogation of the gold clause by the U.S. Government, corresponding to distinct needs of the bourgeoisie, can anyone be under the illusion that the Supreme Court would dare to declare the government’s act unconstitutional?

* * *

Majesty of the Law

In reality the Supreme Court is putting on a show, is covering with the necessary amount of flummery and formality the foregone conclusion of its decision. Hughes has no intention to bring about the chaos that would result from an adverse decision.

* * *

The Constitution Itself

The Marxian who knows the history of the American Constitution itself, is well aware that this sacred document is nothing but the legalization of the capture of power after the American Revolution by the rich, exploiting section of colonial society, destined to become the modern capitalists. The Constitution was designed to protect private property, to prevent interference with this private property by the majority of the people. In short, the Constitution was designed to perpetuate the rule of the rich minority against any attacks by the future proletariat and petty bourgeoisie. Surely a “yardstick” to be respected by this same proletariat which it was designed to keep from attaining to power!

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