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The constantly widening competition of civilized life continually forces combination to control or suppress it. Combinations of capital and combinations of labor face each other on every field of industrial effort. The arbitrary power of the corporation and the trust are met by the tyranny of the trade union and the despotism of the walking delegate. The courts can no more prevent or restrain these combinations by orders of injunction and proceedings for contempt than they can stay the tides or the stars in their courses. So long as they produce no results which the legislature does not condemn by statute, and juries do not condemn by their verdicts, they should be let alone. Any evil which results from them can be better remedied by the legislature and by verdicts of juries than by the fallible discretion of single judges in the exercise of so-called equity powers, however honest and wise the judges may be.
It is idle to say that the popular complaint on this subject means nothing, or that, as one judge has said: “ Nobody objects to government by injunction except those who object to any government at all."
It does mean much. It means that the courts have, in the judgment of many of the most intelligent and thoughtful citizens and of congress, exceeded their just powers ; that they have by the so-called exercise of equity power practically assumed to create and to punish offences upon trial by themselves without a jury, and with penalties imposed at their discretion. And this means that if the courts continue in this course, their power to enforce their orders by proceedings for contempt will be limited by legislation. The people will not, and they ought not to, submit to decisions like those in the Northern Pacific and Ann Arbor cases.
The result will be to deprive the courts of the power to enforce orders which they ought to have power to enforce, and the mischief that will come can hardly be estimated.
The remedy is not by legislation. The subject is not one for partisan debate, and should not enter into politics in any degree whatever. Thoughtful, intelligent, conservative discussion by the profession will remedy the evil, and to that discussion all members of the bar who have the good of the republic at heart ought to bring their best effort.