Cardozo Explains Why He Declined Post at Hague

The text of the letter in which Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo, Chief Justice of the New York Court of Appeals, gave his reasons for declining President Coolidge’s invitation to be one of America’s representatives on the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, was made public by Charles Evans Hughes, to whom the letter was addressed.

“On the eve of your departure for Europe we had a conference on the subject of my proposed membership in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. I promised to recur to the subject on your return,” Judge Cardozo wrote.

“After many inward struggles, I have come to the conclusion that a Judge of the Court of Appeals best serves the people of the State by refusing to assume an obligation that in indeterminate, if improbable contingencies might take precedence of the obligations attached to his judicial office.

“The Constitution of the State excludes a Judge of the Court of Appeals or a Justice of the Supreme Court from holding any other office or public trust. In my opinion, membership in the Court of Arbitration is not an office of a public trust within that prohibition. Analysis of the Constitution of the Hague Tribunal is necessary, however, before this conclusion becomes obvious.

“To the minds of many I might seem, in accepting membership, to be violating the command of the Constitution, or to be making nice distinctions to win an honor for myself. Even if I were to make it clear that membership does not violate the letter of the mandate, there might be many who would feel that there had been an offense against the spirit. I think I shall best maintain the dignity and fair name of the great office that I hold if I avoid the oecasion and the possibility of debate or misconstruction. None more fully than you will feel an understanding sympathy for this attitude of mind.

“I am grateful to the President for his generous confidence. Though I put the honor aside, it is with many a pang of regret and in obedience to a sense of duty. Every impulse of personal desire would move me to another choice.”

Lee P. Dusansky of Minneapolis has been appointed Executive Secretary of Avukah. the American Student Zionist Federation, which has its headquarters in Washington.

NEXT STORY