Legislation of the 1920s>Burton French to James Johnson
Burton French's Letter to James Weldon Johnson February 3, 1922.
NAACP Papers, Library of Congress
I have been compelled to point out the features in the Dyer bill
that I think are disastrous.
I am sending you herewith a copy of the remarks that I made while
the bill was pending that indicate my criticisms of the measure
question the constitutionality of the provisions fixing a penalty
or assessment upon counties. In my remarks I did not develop particularly
the reasons why I think these features are not constitutional
for the burden of proof rests upon the proponents of the bill
to establish the constitutionality. I have given careful consideration
to the arguments and I cannot agree with the conclusions, notwithstanding
and distinguished ability of those who press them for consideration.
if these features are constitutional, I believe that fundamentally
they are not in harmony with our system of government,--that they
would prevent the enforcement of law.
of the reasons why I am opposed to mob violence is because the
innocent is frequently made to suffer. Remember that under the
Dyer bill, the inhabitants of a county may be wholly free from
guilt, yet under the bill a penalty of ten thousand dollars may
be imposed upon these people."