Mr. Merrill to Mr. Bayard.
Honolulu , December 20, 1887. (Received January 3, 1888.)
Sir: Regarding the question of the constitutional right of his majesty the King to exercise the veto power, submitted to the justices of the supreme court, and referred to in my dispatch No. 158, of the 15th instant, I have the honor to inform you that the four judges are equally [Page 850] divided in opinion, and have informed his majesty that they are unable to advise him in the matter, thus leaving the Legislature and the King directly opposed in the interpretation of the constitution regarding the veto power.
On yesterday, the 19th instant, the King, still adhering to his interpretation of the constitution, returned to the Legistature two more bills, with his objections thereto, which the Legislature decided to treat as only an attempt to veto, claiming that all bills returned unsigned without the consent of the cabinet ministers would become laws by virtue of not being legitimately returned to the Legislature within ten days after presentation to his majesty for approval.
There was no discussion on the subject yesterday, and the matter was quietly disposed of when the Legislature proceeded to consider other business.
Judging from information received, I am of the opinion that it is the purpose of the adherents of the doctrine promulgated by the Legislature to solve the constitutional problem by the appointment of a fifth judge, filling a vacancy caused by the death of Judge Fornander.
Although there is considerable feeling in the community concerning the differences between the King and the Legislature, yet at this time the indications are that a peaceful settlement through the courts will be obtained.
Every precaution possible is taken, by quietly providing for any emergency; but it is now believed that the special session of the Legislature will adjourn sine die to-night, or to-morrow at the latest, and when the vacancy in the supreme court is filled doubtless the legality of the acts vetoed by the King will be constitutionally tested.
I inclose herewith extracts of legislative proceedings of the 19th instant, giving in full the messages of the King accompanying the returned bills and legislative action thereon.
I have, etc,