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February 27: ON THIS DAY in 1939, highest court outlaws sit-ins

February 27, 2019 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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ON THIS DAY IN 1860, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “The Republican Party have very adroitly taken advantage of the popularity of the lecture system to propagate their principles. Under the guise of literary entertainments, such men as G.W. Curtis, Wendell Phillips, and others have in our lecture rooms preached the doctrines of Seward and Helper. Many who habitually attend lectures are generally attracted more by the desire to see some celebrity than by the subject of his discourse; and many go to see Phillips, Garrison, and Cassius M. Clay out of mere curiosity to see the men, as they would as soon go to see Barnum’s mermaid. As a class, lecture-goers are a people who do not usually attend political meetings. Latterly, the disguise of literary discourses has been thrown off, and the Republicans have openly announced their political lectures. But clinging to the claptrap of the lecture system, they have brought out only great guns from abroad, whose fame and notoriety had excited a curiosity to see them. A course of Republican lectures is now in progress at the Cooper Institute. Phillips, Giddings, and Clay have delivered themselves; tonight, Abraham Lincoln, Douglas’s Republican competitor from Illinois, will hold forth.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1922, the Eagle reported, “Washington, Feb. 27 – The Woman’s Suffrage, or Nineteenth Amendment, was today declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed for want of jurisdiction the suit brought by Charles S. Fairchild of New York, who sought to challenge the constitutionality of the amendment. The opinion of the court was delivered by Justice [Louis] Brandeis. The Woman Suffrage Amendment to the Constitution was challenged in the Supreme Court in proceedings instituted by Charles S. Fairchild of New York, for himself and in behalf of the American Constitutional League, to enjoin the secretary of state from issuing and the attorney general from enforcing a proclamation declaring the ratification of the amendment, and by Oscar Leser and other citizens of Maryland, constituting an organization known as the ‘Maryland League for State Defense.’ The former proceedings were based on the ground that the amendment had not been validly adopted, and the latter that the amendment was unconstitutional.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1931, the Eagle reported, “Chicago, Feb. 27 (AP) – Al Capone was convicted of contempt in federal court today and sentenced to six months in the county jail. Judge Wilkerson in announcing his decision declared it was evident the affidavit which attempted to show Capone was ill and in bed when he was wanted by the government two years ago was ‘glaringly false.’ The effect of the affidavit, the judge declared, was to ‘hamper the administration of justice.’ He said that ‘this court is not to be tampered with.’”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1939, the Eagle reported, “Washington, Feb. 27 (AP) – The Supreme Court condemned today the action of employees who seized their employer’s plant in a sit-down strike. The decision, by Chief Justice [Charles Evans] Hughes, upheld the right of the Fansteel Metallurgical Corporation to discharge employees who seized two key buildings of the plant in a 1937 sit-down strike. Justice Hughes characterized the ‘seizure and retention’ of the property as a ‘high-handed proceeding without shadow of legal right.’ A few minutes after the chief justice read his decision. the court refused to review the contempt of court convictions of 39 Fansteel employees. They were charged with violating a state court injunction restraining them from continuing the sit-down strike and were given varying sentences. This was the third major decision today by the high tribunal against orders by the National Labor Relations Board. The three were the first important defeats administered to the board since enactment of the Wagner law in 1935. ‘The employees,’ Chief Justice Hughes asserted, ‘had the right to strike but they had no license to commit acts of violence or to seize their employer’s plant.’”


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