Justice Charles Evans HughesJustice Charles Evans Hughes, (1862-1948) Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Charles Evans Hughes Quote

“Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency.”

Justice Charles Evans HughesJustice Charles Evans Hughes
~ Justice Charles Evans Hughes

Home Building & Loan Assn v. Blairsdell, 1934

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

A true statement, too bad its not followed today.

David L Rosenthal

The Constitution has been amended on several occasions. Was it unconstitutional to amend it? If so, was it unconstitutional to free the slaves? I support the Constitution, but I also support rational responses to emerging circumstances.

Mike, Mount Holly, NC

David, the Constitution provides for amendments, but it is rightly a rigorous process. I don't think that's what this quote is getting at. I think it is saying not to make major changes as a knee-jerk reaction to "emergencies". If that were the case, the DCeivers would be constantly creating emergencies to change the law to suit their needs ... wait, they do that now. Oh well, the Constitution was a good idea at the time. " 'Necessity' is the plea for every infringement of human liberty; it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."--William Pitt (1759-1806) British Prime Minister (1783-1801, 1804-06) during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Source: Speech, House of Commons, 18 November 1783

E Archer, NYC

The US has been kept in a constant state of emergency since its bankruptcy in 1934 thus keeping executive emergency powers in place. After FDR, no war needed ever be declared by Congress to authorize the president to use military force against a foreign power. Today 'emergencies' are decried all the day long on the news -- a never-ending call to distrust one another an even life itself.

David L Rosenthal

Archer wrote: "After FDR, no war needed ever be declared by Congress to authorize the president to use military force against a foreign power." When did he change his mind about this, since he had been vehemently arguing the contrary a few days ago?

Jack, Green, OH

I can't entirely agree with you, Archer. The Great Depression was what put FDR in office in 1933, having begun three years earlier in 1930, after the stock market collapse of 1929. The Hoover administration did not admit it until about 1931. Actually, FDR did not really get us out of the depression -- WWII did, but it's for sure the previous administration would have only made matters worse, if that was possible. I remember the 30s well. As for a state of emergency since then, the only official war has been WWII. Korea was never even a declared war, but a "police action" and Vietnam and Iraq were sort of declared on trumped-up causes like the Gulf of Tonkin and Iraq's failure to comply with Security Council resolution 1441 - excuses, not reasons. I really don't see any perpetual emergencies during the 60 years since VJ Day either. I do agree severak times the various presidents have tried to claim emergencies. After all, the only real emergencies the country has faced were the initial Revolution. the Civil War and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The others have been merely frivolous exercises having nothing to do with defense or emergency.

Joe, Rochester, MI

I too support the Constitution AND I support rational responses to ALL circumstances, emergency or ordinary. It was NOT rational for police to confiscate firearms from the law abiding citizens of New Orleans after Katrina, AND it was unconstitutional. It created opportunities for criminals to rob, rape and murder.

E Archer, NYC

What I mean to say is that since FDR, the Executive Branch has been able to wage war without Congress declaring war. A 'war' that is waged by the president without authorization from Congress is an unlawful war -- it is an usurpation, a tyrannical act, is under the exclusive command of the president and the agencies of the executive branch. Since the 'war' in Iraq is not a declared war by Congress, it is not lawfully a war -- it is an invasion, an assault, a take-over, and a military coup. But the US is not supposed to be in the business of imposing our will upon other countries. War is the trade of kings, and it has been going on since the beginning of time. I cannot support an arbitrary 'war' that is not declared by the People through their Congress.

David L Rosenthal

Gee, I wonder why the legislative branch does not impeach the executive, as per its powers, to correct such a terrible thing...unless they actually approve of it, despite their rhetoric.

Jack, Green, OH

Don't worry, David, Congress will be under new control next year and I don't think this administration will leave office unscathed. Nancy Pelosi's statement she does not intend to call for a bill of impeachment notwithstanding, the pressure to do so will grow so fast she will almost have to. There is no doubt there have been serious violations of the Constitution. Archer was absolutely right about declarations of war and I just wanted to point out that FDR was the last presiedent to wage a "legal" war, as Vietnam and Iraq were declared under false pretenses. The invasion of Iraq was a declaration to find and destroy Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction per S.C. resolution 1441, which resolution did not grant US authority to go it almost alone. What was done was an act of aggression

David L. Rosenthal

Wanna bet?

Jack, Green, OH

Bet on what, David? That Pelosi will not bring up a bill of impeachment, or that she will not be Speaker? Obviously, she won't if she isn't. The drawbak to removing Bush is that the second in line is equally bad. No gain.

David L Rosenthal

Pelosi won't be speaker, and Bush won't be impeached. Neither will the Democratic Party have the sweeping victory it toots so much about. The same polsters that deceive you today are the ones who get it wrong election after election.

Jack, Green, OH

How well I remember the first year I could vote and the 1948 Tribune headline: DEWEY WINS, I was a Republican then and voted for Dewey, who was the certain winner Of course Truman won. So I know all about polls.

David L. Rosenthal

Well, just to be honest, I don't expect much from anyone.

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Anon    5/15/09

Hmm...Wasn't it a national emergency (9/11) that was used to foist the Patriot Act on the American public? And isn't that, the P.A, an increase of power NOT granted by constitutional limitations of power? If that isn't usurpation and one believes it's not, then I have an island in the middle of the ocean I'm more than ready to sell you.

jim k, austin

Governments have always used (created) "emergencies" to keep the people in line. Watch the movie "1984" for a great example.

Waffler, Smith

Without an emergency I can get out of bed in the morning.

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RBESRQ    5/15/09

Right on Mike and Archer - its the essence we should discuss not grocery shop. The quote simply is about governments using emergencies for their own interest and not that of the people; there are many examples of false-flag (Emergencies) as was quoted by Churchill and Hoover in yesterdays blog (read about Operation Northwoods [1962], unknown to the American public until 2001; others will come to light when those in government have long gone). The Japanese code was broken two weeks before Pearl Harbor - you do the math. Emergencies also turn the people into frighten rabbits who will even allow torture under the guise of security (as did the German people did). We the the people must take back our country our government - we must stop this continual cycle of one corporate executive after another running our country and get back to a leader based on trust and integrity. We better start learning Chinese.

T A Wade, NJ

Rahm Emmaunel's quote keeps ringing in my head

Candler, Columbia, SC

Great quote. Everyone should know it.

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

It tough living in a world with nothing but sick psychotics up to no good. The good man challenges forward.


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