other areas — Cuba, in particular—that might be later annexed by
the United States.
In January Igor Philippine governor Taft wrote his friend Justice
Harlan that if the Supreme Court were to rule the tariff on insular
trade unconstitutional, it would "result in a very narrow colonial pol-
icy for the islands." Taft again wrote Harlan a few months later,
shortly before the Court would issue its decisions in the
to emphasize the undesirability of applying the "uniform tariff clause"
to the Philippines: "If there is room for two constructions .
.. take the
one that avoids such a result."
The day of the decisions, Monday, May 27, Igor, newspapers
around the country reported on the Supreme Court's upcoming rul-
ings. The common line on the story, exemplified in the
was that "in official circles there is scarcely any doubt
that the court will sustain the government's contention, which reduced
to popular parlance, is that 'the Constitution does not follow the flag'
ex proprio vigore." Early reports also predicted a divided bench, based
on the observation that some of the justices had made remarks in pub-
lic speeches "against the government's colonial policy," and that some
of the justices' questions to the U.S. government's counsel during oral
argument suggested an opposition to the McKinley administration.
One case occupied front and center:
Downes v. Bidwell,
lenged the constitutionality of the Foraker Act. "No case ever at-
tracted wider attention," Joseph Pulitzer's
New York World
on May 27. "Legal and political opinion was never so divided. A
momentous political and
question hinged on the decision. The
Administration watched the case eagerly." And the
New York World
wondered too, as did many other newspapers and political commen-
tators, if the Supreme Court would uphold the "McKinley policy of
Chapter 3 )
Downes v. Bidwell
"I see," said
Dooley, "th' Supreme
Coon has decided th' Constitution don't
said it did?" asked Mr.
"Some wan," said Mr Dooley. "It
happened a long time ago an' I don't
rayttzember clearly how it come up, but
some fellow said that anywhere
Constitution wint, th' flag was sure to go. 'I don't believe wan wurrud iv it," says
th' other fellow.
can't make me think th' Constitution is goin' thrapezin'
around iveywhere a young liftnant in th' army takes it into his head to stick a flag
pole. It's too old. It a home-stayin' Constitution with a blue coat with brass
buttons onto it, an' it walks with a goold-heade
cane.' . . . 'But,' says th' other, 'if
it wants to throve', why not lave it?' But it don't want to. "I say it does."Howil
we find out?' We'll ask th' Supreme Coort.'"
Dooley at His Best, 1938