A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 04, 2010
“The Supreme Court follows the election returns” ("Judges follow the election returns")

"No matther whether th’ constitution follows h’ flag or not, th’ Supreme Coort follows th’ election returns” wrote Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) in 1901, through his comic character Mr. Dooley. The language has often been cleaned up to say “the Supreme Court follows the election returns” or “judges follow the election returns” or “the Supreme Court reads the elections returns.” The statement means that judges often tailor their decisions to currently popular social and political trends, sometimes without proper regard for the Constitution.

Finley Peter Dunne’s saying gained quick popularity and is still quoted by politicians and the judiciary.


Wikipedia: Finley Peter Dunne
Finley Peter Dunne (July 10, 1867 — April 24, 1936) was a Chicago-based U.S. author, writer and humorist. He published Mr. Dooley in Peace and War, a collection of his nationally syndicated Mr. Dooley sketches, in 1898. The fictional Mr. Dooley expounded upon political and social issues of the day from his South Side Chicago Irish pub and he spoke with the thick verbiage and accent of an Irish immigrant from County Roscommon. Dunne’s sly humor and political acumen won the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, a frequent target of Mr. Dooley’s barbs. Indeed Dunne’s sketches became so popular and such a litmus test of public opinion that they were read each week at White House cabinet meetings.

Peter Finley Dunne was born in Chicago on July 10, 1867. He was educated in the Chicago public schools (graduating from high school last in his class), then began his newspaper career in Chicago as a newspaper reporter/editor for the Chicago Telegram in 1884, at age 17.He was then with the Chicago News from 1884-88, the Chicago Times in 1888, the Chicago Tribune in 1889, the Chicago Herald in 1889, and the Chicago Journal in 1897. Originally named Peter Dunne, to honor his mother, who had died when he was in high school, he took her family name as his middle name some time before 1886, going by PF Dunne, reversed the two names in 1888, for Finley P. Dunne, and later used simply the initials, FP Dunne. His sister, Amelia Dunne Hookway, was a prominent educator and high school principal in Chicago; the former Hookway School was named in her honor.

Chronicling America
9 June 1901, The Sunday Chat (Paducah, KY), pg. 6, col. 2:
MR. DOOLEY REVIEWS THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION
By F. P. DUNNE
Copyright 1901, by Robert Howard Russell.
(...)
“That is,” said Mr. Dooley, “no matther whether th’ constitution follows h’ flag or not, th’ Supreme Coort follows th’ election returns.”

Google Books
November 1901, The Tailor, pg. 4:
This truth is made complete by the equally memorable utterance of Mr. Dooley, that the Constitution follows the flag, and the Supreme Court follows the election returns.

Google Books
The Gentle Reader
By Samuel McChord Crothers
Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin and Co.
1903
Pg. 193:
The cynical reflection on the way in which the decisions of the Supreme Court follow the election returns suggests the way in which historical generalizations follow the latest telegraphic dispatches. Something happens and then we look up its historical antecedents. It seems as if everything had been pointing to this one event from the beginning.

Google Books
November 1908, The Painter and Decorator, pg. 683:
Mr. Dooley was not jesting when he said “Commerce may not follow the flag, but the courts always follow the election returns.”

OCLC WorldCat record
On Perennial Re-Examination of the U.S. Constitution
Author: Morris D Forkosch
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Jul., 1985, vol. 44, no. 3, p. 348-350
Database: JSTOR
Summary: The United States Constitution is still shrouded in myths, clothed in broad terms and garbed with ambiguities. These require constant reinterpretation. If a continuing constitutional convention is thus endemic to the American political system, then is it, as Jefferson said, “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary”? Justice Jackson wrote that “we are infallible only because we are final,” but it is a maxim of American politics that the Court follows the election returns. In the last analysis, there is a higher court in a republican democracy, the Court of Public Opinion (of which scholars and publicists are the officers) which achieves revision by periodic reinterpretation and re-examination.

OCLC WorldCat records
Supreme Court Justices Really Do Follow the Election Returns
Author: Forrest Maltzman; Lee Sigelman; Paul J Wahlbeck
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Political Science and Politics, 37, no. 4 (2004): 839-842

OCLC WorldCat record
Does the Court Follow the Election Returns? Review of From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality
Author: Thomas M Keck; Michael J Klarman
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Reviews in American History, Dec., 2004, vol. 32, no. 4, p. 602-609

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, August 04, 2010 • Permalink