The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Taft) to the Secretary of State


My Dear Secretary Hughes: After a very delightful but somewhat strenuous three weeks in London, I have returned to Murray Bay, and I thought I ought to let you know, in a summary way, some impressions that I gathered while there in respect to a matter which we discussed. I saw Earl Grey, Lord Robert Cecil and Lord Phillimore, and had a considerable talk with each one. I also had a satisfactory conversation with Earl Balfour. I told them that it was important, if they expected the United States to come into a Court arrangement, for the League of Nations to make the Court a separate institution, in the sense that an outsider might become a member of the Court association, without involving itself in any way in the obligations of the League, and might enjoy an equal opportunity with other members to vote in the selection of judges. I found all of them much interested in the suggestion and favorable to it, but Earl Balfour was anxious to have me write a note to him, as a personal suggestion from me, as to how the matter could be done. I referred him to Lord Phillimore as one who had drafted the present statute, and told him that I had talked with Lord Phillimore on the subject—that Lord Phillimore could probably demonstrate in a lawyer’s way that the United States might safely come into the Court now without involving herself in the obligations of the League. But I said to Lord Balfour that that was not enough, that the United States of course could not come in unless she was given a full opportunity to join in the selection of judges and have every other advantage which members of the League would have in the hearing of causes. Indeed that in order to make it at all possible [Page 2] that the United States could come in, I suggested that the League ought to take public steps to put the Court on a basis which would in a sense separate it from the League by making it an institution which outsiders could join and have equal opportunity in. I haven’t yet written the note to Lord Balfour which I promised to write, because I wanted to examine the statute which Lord Phillimore furnished me, with comments, and I thought possibly that I might get a, personal note from you, with suggestions that may occur to you, which I could incorporate in my note as my own views, without using your name at all.

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With warm regards [etc.]

Wm. H. Taft