View Full Version : A question about Grover Cleveland (for history buffs/Constitutional scholars here)

03-19-2011, 05:56 AM
I once heard Judge Andrew Napolitano call President Grover Cleveland, along with President Thomas Jefferson, were the biggest defenders of the Constitution (at least at the Presidential level).

I can understand the reasoning behind Jefferson, but why Cleveland?

03-19-2011, 09:38 AM
BARTON: Someone who is a defender of the Constitution is someone who understands complete philosophy of the Constitution.

And to be a defender of the Constitution doesn't mean you just want limited government. It also means you want to protect individual rights just as much as you want to limit government.

So, you have Ronald Reagan who -- and today we would call him both a social and an economic conservative. In other words, he wants deregulation, he wants the federal government smaller, he wants it doing less, he wants business as being encouraged, he wants prosperity. It comes from free enterprise. That's all good.

He wants less regulation. He wants less intrusion. But on the side, he understood the inalienable rights.

If you look at someone like Eisenhower -- Eisenhower, I mean, he desegregated Washington, D.C., but he understood the Southern mentality of the kind of racism there, but he went and took the federal government and made sure that 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were going to be upheld in Arkansas, and in Tennessee and in Texas after the desegregation case in 1954 where the Supreme Court actually got right decision through the wrong logic, but they upheld the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments.

Here, you got Eisenhower saying, I don't care what my personal views are. This is a constitutional issue. And I'm going to do it with constitutional means. So, people can criticize him for taking in the National Guard and federalizing it, but he was still upholding the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments.

And that's really how you have to judge between the defender and an offender of the Constitution is whether they use constitutional means to try to solve the problems or whether they got these brilliant ideas and went around the Constitution to try to solve the problems. And that nearly always characterize the difference between the good guys and the bad guys on constitutional issues.

NAPOLITANO: Amongst those of us who study the Constitution for a living, you could find violations of it, significant violations of it in virtually every single presidency, starting with George Washington and up to President Obama.

The strongest defenders from the Constitution from those of us who study it for a living typically are only two: Thomas Jefferson and Grover Cleveland. Jefferson, of course, plainly argued that many of the things that the federalists had done, like the Alien and Sedition Acts, he simply would have nothing to do with.

Grover Cleveland, on the other hand, vetoed many, many pieces of legislation, more vetoes because of the absence of authority for the legislative act of the Constitution, than any other president of the history -- an unsung hero for constitutional law.


03-19-2011, 04:54 PM
I would have voted for Cleveland. He had the support of many reformed minded Republican's, particularly the "Mugwump's" on top of that, Blaine was corrupt and a moron. The GOP should never have selected him as their candidate.

Cleveland made this statement after one such veto

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
Cleveland's Veto of the Texas Seed Bill
February 16, 1887[91]

The only problem that I have with Cleveland is that he wouldn't support or uphold the 15th amendment, but that was typical of most Dems of the time.