TREMENDOUS BLOW TO MORMONISM.
The decision of the United States supreme court in the mormon case is a tremendous blow to that hierachy. It is by far the most advanced step ever taken by the highest court in the land to bring the mormons to a realizing sense of their wrongdoing and their powerlessness to resist the general government. This decision affirms the judgment of the lower court that the Edmunds law is con-stitutional.
The Edmunds anti-polygamy law was passed by the forty-ninth congress. Among other things it dissolved the mor-mon church corporation, annulled its charter, directed the appointment of a receiver to wind up its affairs and es-cheated to the United States all the real estate owned by the church in excess of $50,000 which was not, on the date of the the passage of the act, held for purposes of worship and burial. When the United States, under the terms of this act, began proceedings to confiscate about $750,000 worth of property belonging to the church, the mormons immediately en-tered suit to have the Edmunds law de-clared unconstitutional. It was argued before the supreme court in their behalf that congress, by the dissolution of the church corporation, had assumed judicial pow-ers and that the act of the legislative as-sembly at Utah incorporating the church constituted a contract which could not be impaired by congress under its au-thority to repeal territorial enactments. It was also held that the doctrine of escheat was alien to the spirit of free in-stitutions and that it had never been applied in this country to a church or charitable corporation. On the part of the United States it was contended that congress had authority to repeal all ter-ritorial enactments; that the act incor-porating the church was invalid as an attempt to establish a religion contrary to the provisions of the constitution and that, moreover, the charter should be annulled for abuse of the granted rights. As, when the church corporation was dissolved, there was no one to whom to turn over the property, it was properly escheated to the United States.
Of course the mormons would fight rather than submit to this decision if they had any show, but they know very well that they must submit and they will do so. The decision means a good deal and the mormons are reported to be aware of that fact. It would seem that their power is now broken. Stripped of their rich possessions they will no lon-ger be able to gather adherents by the inducements of prosperity which they have hitherto held out. Then, there have of late been great defections from the church which will now naturally be-come still more numerous,
Those who enacted the Edmunds bill met and answered objections then as to its unconstitutionality. The best law-yers in the senate believed congress had power to deal vigorously with the enor-mous evil in Utah. Democratic opposers of the measure were met by Edmunds and others in a debate of rare ability. The supreme court of the nation now decides that Mr. Edmunds and other advocates of the measure were right and the objectors wrong. But the ob-jectors find comfort in the fact that the three democratic judges—Fuller, Field and Lamar—dissented from the opinion of the court. The dissenting opinion was written by Chief Justice Fuller and it holds that congress "has not power to seize and confiscate the proper-ty of corporations because they may have been guilty of crime. If the pur-poses of the fund are such as have been depicted, it is impossible to subject it to a purpose as near as pos-sible to the object denounced. In the judgment of the minority the con-version of the fund, contemplated by congress, is in contravention of the spe-cific limitations of the constitution." All the judges hold that congress has power to suppress polygamy in the terri-tories,
The dissenting opinion creates much discussion in Washington among law-yers and others. A special throws out this hint: "Coming so soon after the decision of the court in the Iowa prohi-bition case, which was prepared also by the chief justice, politicians have begun to inquire whether the present chief jus-tice has not the same aspirations for the presidency which so long characterized his predecessor, Mr. Chase. Some of the democratic politicians have sug-gested that it is possible that Grover Cleveland, by his selection of the chief justice, prepared for himself a strong and unexpected rival before the next democratic national convention." But it is doubtful whether there is much presidential timber in Mr. Fuller.
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