Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Burke, in the trial of Warren Hastings, observed, "Law and arbitrary power are in eternal enmity." The same irreconcilable conflict exists, in this country, between professional politicians and sponsors of the merit system. This is because the aims of the two camps are completely antagonistic. In no other place where the two party system obtains, is the filling of offices and positions on the basis of vote-getting service and strength and political contributions made or secured for the party,so predominant a part of political activity. Patronage is the backbone in the United States of the political parties in federal, state and local political operations. There is, in this country, no other effective party discipline. Thus, members of the Congress, state legislators and municipal officers holding important positions openly oppose legislation or policies recommended by their chief executive. Here patronage is the most effective pressure an executive can exert on members of his party. The immense number of offices and positions created during the terms of the late President Roosevelt enabled him to fill them in a way that pleased those who favored his objectives and that punished those who did not.