The Kuklux Law
April 22, 1871
The Dispatch objects to the passing of the Kuklux law on a federal level, claiming that Congress had no right to overstep their bounds and create and enforce a law that should have been left to the states. If it was left to the states, Virginia would not have enforced the laws and continued violent discrimination.
We publish this law in full this morning. We have heretofore expressed our opinion of its general features, which are now very much when the bill first left the House. If the law were fairly administered, by upright. Competent judges, it could do no harm, merely as a law. The real objection to it is, that Congress had no right to pass any such law. It trenches upon the rights and duties of the States. It makes Federal judges, who at present are the mere creatures of the President, masters of the property and the persons of the people. It in effect repeals the Federal Constitution in so far as that instrument defines the limits of the power of the National Government, (yes, national) It will accustom the people to Federal interference in affairs with which it has no right to meddle, and pave the way for the assumption by the Federal Government of all the powers now exercised by the State governments. When for a few years men shall have been arranged before Federal courts charged with the offences created by the new law, it will be an easy matter to transfer to said courts all the criminal business now done in the State courts. Civil eases will follow after. It is possible the northern people may wake up next year, and put an end to the rule of these usurpers, these violators of the Constitution, these destroyers of the Government established by our fathers-these enemies of mankind. If not, farewell to civil liberty on this continent.
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“The Kuklux Law,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 8, 2020, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/2033.