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No Federal court has cognizance of such a case as this, and as between the States there is no extradition except of fugitives from justice. This defendant is not a fugitive; he has not fled from the District of Columbia. He was not there, and there is no such thing as constructive flight.
In the proceedings instituted by Mr. Roosevelt even the jurisdictional residence of the complainant which existed in the Dana case does not appear. Mr. Roosevelt, the real complainant, was a legal resident not of Washington but of Nassau County, N. Y. None of the parties cited in the indictments as aggrieved was a resident of Washington. All with two exceptions were residents of New York. None was a resident of Indiana.
The great constitutional question does not at all involve the merits of Mr. Roosevelt's charge of libel against The World, and the Indianapolis News. Should this case ever come to trial on its merits the truth of such charges as were actually made can be offered as a complete defense.
That many American citizens have convinced themselves of the necessity for making the full truth public Judge Anderson's remarks yesterday from the bench clearly indicated when he referred to Mr. Cromwell's admission of the existence of an American syndicate and to the Court's own personal impression of the "quick, sudden change of heart from the Nicaragua route to the Panama route."
Great as is the natural interest of the American public, which paid the $40,000,000, to know into what pocket it finally went, that question is of minor importance compared with the constitutional right which every American citizen has to be tried at his home, where he is known, where the offense, if any, was committed, and not to be dragged hundreds or thousands of miles, though an acquittal follow.
Were Judge Anderson and the higher courts to take
Mr. Roosevelt's view, almost any newspaper editor or writer who criticises the Administration could be taken to Washington and tried there for criminal libel. Not only any newspaper editor but any other citizen who by writing or speech attacked the Administration or its acts could be indicted in Washington, haled to Washington, kept in Washington, without redress and without remedy against the most unjust accusations, if his criticism happened to circulate in Washington. Such a procedure might be equivalent to the confiscation of a man's property and business.
Such a construction of the Constitution and of the law would stifle criticism of Federal officials or adverse comment on the acts of the National Administration. It might apply to a Senator or a Representative as well as to a President, and would destroy that freedom of discussion without which republican institutions cannot be maintained.
Judge Anderson at the hearing before him commented upon several extraordinary phases of the Government's contention:
As, for example, if the proprietor of a newspaper in New York should be off for six months cruising in his yacht, during his absence a vicious article appeared in his paper. Should he be held criminally? It does not occur to me that he could be held criminally liable. If the owner is not present he actually knew nothing about the publication and could not possibly be held guilty of the crime.
Yet this is one of the perverted constructions which the Government is seeking to maintain.
Regarding the question of who got the Panama money, Judge Anderson also said: "This forty millions of dollars that was paid for the canal was the public's money, you must remember. Part of it was my money. A part of it was yours."
The World welcomes a hearing before a competent judicial tribunal of this great question. As for the great constitutional issue involved in this case, it is confident that the highest courts in the United States will hold today, as was held in 1895 and as far back as 1812, when John Marshall, Brockholst Livingston and Joseph Story sat, that an American citizen cannot be dragged from his home to Washington for trial for an offense which if committed at all was committed at home, and that no such Federal crime exists as Mr. Roosevelt sought by fiat to
LAW VERSUS LAWLESSNESS-LIBERTY VERSUS
[October 14, 1909]
JUDGE ANDERSON's 'decision against the United States Government in the Panama libel case at Indianapolis is in effect a declaration that President Roosevelt instituted an unconstitutional proceeding which involved a distinct menace to the liberties of the American people.
To quote the language of the Court:
To my mind that man has read the history of our institutions to very little purpose who does not look with very grave apprehension upon the possible success of a proceeding such as this if the history of liberty means anything, if the constitutional guarantees mean anything-if the prosecuting authorities should have the power to select a tribunal, if there be more than one tribunal to select from, at the capital of the United States; that the Government should have that power and drag citizens of distant States there to be tried.
The defendants will be discharged.
To appreciate the extent to which Mr. Roosevelt prostituted the power of the Presidency to the gratifica
tion of personal and political malice it is necessary only to compare his own record in the case with this decision of the United States court.
In his special message of Dec. 15, 1908, Mr. Roosevelt declared that the Panama news articles printed in The World were "a string of infamous libels"; that "they are in fact wholly and in form partly a libel upon the United States Government"; that the proprietor of The World "should be prosecuted for libel by the governmental authorities," and that "the Attorney-General has under consideration the form in which the proceedings .. shall be brought.'
Judge Anderson does not even consider the possibility that the United States Government could be libelled. As to whether anybody was libelled by the Indianapolis News' vigorous and sweeping editorial comments, which went beyond The World's news articles the Court says:
I was very strongly impressed this morning with Mr. Winter's argument on the proposition that these articles are not libellous. Up to that time it had not occurred to me that there was any question about their being libellous, but I am not so sure about it. . . . I have had occasion to say before that a newspaper has a sort of duty to perform. It was well stated by a former Judge of the United States: "It is the duty of a newspaper to print the news and tell the truth about it." It is the duty of a public newspaper such as is owned and conducted by these defendants to tell the people, its subscribers, the facts that it may find out about public questions or matter of public interest. It is its duty and its right to draw inference from the facts known, to draw them for the people.
Judge Anderson's decision overthrows a revolutionary doctrine which, were it sustained by the courts, would inevitably destroy the freedom of the press in this country. How long would newspapers dare criticise abuses of Government or oppose the will of the Executives if the President could arbitrarily take editors and proprietors
to Washington and there prosecute them criminally under what Elihu Root eloquently described as "the same arbitrary and odious law against which Erskine fought in the days of George III"?
From a time that antedates the adoption of the Constitution freedom of the press has been held to be one of essential safeguards of American liberty. Freedom of the press is never more necessary than in a period in which the Republic produces a President who officially asserts the doctrine of lese-majesty and who wantonly prostitutes the power of his office and degrades the instrumentalities of justice in order to gratify his desire for private revenge.
The Court has answered Mr. Roosevelt.
A CROOK AND A JACKASS
THAT Mr. Roosevelt during his recent visit to Indianapolis should have denounced Judge Anderson of the United States District Court as "a crook and a jackass" will astonish nobody who is familiar with Mr. Roosevelt's attitude toward an independent judiciary.
Judge Anderson's offense was his decision in "that libel case out here." "That libel case out here" was the attempt of the United States Government to drag the editors of the Indianapolis News to Washington for trial for what had been printed in their newspaper about the sale of the Panama Canal properties to the United States.
The Indianapolis News indictments in the District of Columbia were found at the same time The World indictments were found, at the personal demand of Mr. Roose velt, who announced through the Tribune that—
The President is deeply interested in this case, and those charged with the prosecution realize that they will earn his gratitude if their efforts are successful.