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The Courage to Uphold the Constitution

August 19, 2015

The minority leader of the New York state assembly worked hard to lower the fare on New York City’s elevated railroads. It was most gratifying when the five-cent fare bill passed. Then the governor vetoed it.

The governor was no friend to the railroad barons. He simply believed the bill violated the U.S. Constitution which prohibits state governments from abrogating legal contracts. Since the railroad was meeting the requirements of its charter, the fare could not be lowered so easily.  Even though he was not a member of the governor’s political party, the minority leader became convinced the governor was right. He then urged the legislature not to override the governor’s veto.

Of course, the fare was eventually lowered. The governor worked to have the charter revised so a fare reduction would not be unconstitutional. That’s just how Governor Grover Cleveland was.

Within two years Cleveland would be elected President. The minority leader would also eventually become President. We’ll discuss him next time.

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