Sunday, March 06, 2011

How it was: February 18, 1936

Yes, I know I'm a few weeks late, but this just turned up: a copy of the front page of the New York Herald Tribune from the day of my birth, February 18, 1936.  So, how was your day, Buce?  I'm tempted to say "slow news day," but it apparently wasn't slow to the editors of the HT:  We've got a four-column, triple deck headline on the story out of the Supreme Court (this was a Tuesday morning):
T.V.A Wins Right to Sell Power
In 8-1 Supreme Court Decision
Applying Only to Wilson Dam
More formally, that  would be Ashwander v. TVA, decided Monday, February 17, 1936, 8-1, Justice Hughes writing, Justice McReynolds dissenting (no surprise there), with a memorable concurrence by Justice Brandeis in which he articulates his views on the place of judicial review.  Boy, does anybody remember this kind of New Deal conflict any more, over the government's power to manage  commerce? Oh, right: it seems we are still relitigating and rearguing some of those old issues, not least in the arena of health care.
In context, Ashwander seems to have been a major breakthrough.  A second-lede two-column hed above  the fold in the same paper tells us that
Stocks Soar and Fall as Wall St.
Guesses Wrong on the T.V.A. Ruling
 And below that, a single column:
T.V.A. Ruling
Called Victory
For 'Yardstick'
That third is basically a reaction piece, giving the proponents the proponents a chance to wax ecstatic about the opinion "as safeguarding from legal attack the large power projects of the Administration, including Grand Coulee and Bonneville in the Northwest on the Columbia River and Fort Peck on the Missouri River in Montana."

Meanwhile Justice McReynolds, per the HT "took the view ... that T.V.A. was using constitutional authority merely as a 'thin mask' with the definite design of accomplishing wholly unconstitutional purposes."  My father was a much nicer man than the mean-spirited McReynolds but on the point at issue, he would have agreed.  My mother, I trust, had other things on her mind.

Afterthought:  Thin mask?  Maybe he means thin wedge? 

1 comment:

dilbert dogbert said...

I was exploring your links to see if there was something interesting to read. Checked Laudator Temporis Acti and found the long quotes from Grapes. Reminded me of why I like the opening paragraphs of East of Eden.