U.S.A. Reveres the Constitution
Apropos of .the Supreme Court's rejection as unconstitutional of an important feature of New Deal legislation, the Observer's New York correspondent rightly comments on the amazing deference paid by American opinion to the Constitution. "Americans," he says, "seem to have fallen into the habit of asking about an Act 'Is it constitutional?' instead of 'Is it desirable?' and of leaving the answer to the judges of the Supreme Court, their confidence proof against the difference of opinion usually accompanying the answer." The reason for that is not far to seek. The U.S.A. is a young nation which has not yet, like older cornmunities, accumulated a body of unwritten tradition and fixed national habits which can be relied on to ensure stability in times of crisis. The paper Constitution, which is what gives the nation its unity, must be treated, therefore, with extreme caution.
It may seem strange that 'Americans, whose lawlessness is notorious, as was shown during the days of Prohibition, should run to the other extreme and display this respect for legality. But, as so often happens, the two extremes are closely related. Order is not yet in the blood of the American citizen, and for that very reason the written law calls for careful handling, and the idea of changing it or challenging the authority which interprets it does not occur to the public.