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advocates exclusively. Engineers, doctors of medicine, of science, of letters, make up a class of citizens proper to be chosen as jurors. Should a woman be forbidden to become a physician, because she might be placed on the list of jurors?
Must woman be excluded from the bar, because she could not be nominated as magistrate? There is no law forbidding the King to appoint a woman to judicial offices. A court of appeal would have no right to refuse the oath of office to a woman merchant, for instance, nominated as consular judge and appointed by the King.
At the time of the discussion of the law of 1876, M. FrereOrban, with the most exact precision, drew the distinction between the practice of the profession of advocate and eligibility to judicial functions.
All those whose moral character is unquestionable, and who hold a diploma of a Doctor of Law, duly confirmed, possess all the requisite qualifications to become members of the bar, while the qualifications required for admission to the magistracy are quite different. The advocates constitute a class of persons from whom the King may make a selection to fill vacancies in the judicial corps, but the Crown has power to choose also from other classes of persons.
The admission of a woman to the bar will not compel the government to nominate her for a magistrate; the executive power remains free to nominate its judges as it sees fit, and if it fears social revolt, it will not impose women judges upon its citizens.
The practice of the advocate's profession is entirely independent of the question of eligibility to the magistracy. This is so well settled that it is a fact that a foreigner can be an advocate in Belgium, although he is excluded from judicial offices, Belgians only being eligible to these latter.
By admitting that the woman lawyer might be looked upon as an incomplete advocate, we do not concede in any wise that she should be excluded from the bar. Is a woman forbidden to become a public trader? And yet a woman is but an incomplete merchant, for she cannot be enrolled upon the list of consular electors, nor according to the theory of our opponents,
18 she capable of being called to membership in a commercial tribunal.
We have two special cases to consider. First, that of a married woman lawyer whose spouse is likewise a member of the bar. Husband and wife might be intrusted with conflicting interests in the same cause. Let us even suppose that the parties, have confided to their counsel, privileged documents not to be communicated to the adverse party.
In such an event professional secrecy might be violated. By reason of their situation, the spouses might by a fortuitous chance or otherwise, gain a knowledge of the contents of these secret documents.
A more unlikely circumstance cannot be imagined, for the adversaries would be too much interested to be guilty of the imprudence of revealing to their spouse their respective points of defense. Brothers, or a father and son very frequently practice at the bar at the same time, and one never sees such near relatives appear in court in behalf of opposite interests.
In the western States of America, according to information furnished us by Miss Robinson, there are at present, twenty law offices presided over by husband and wife. In most of the eastern States, this is impossible, as the laws do not allow a partnership between husband and wife.
In Belgium, the usage of the bar prescribes permanent partnerships between advocates. As a father and son, dwelling under the same roof, would not be looked upon as partners, so an office occupied in common by husband and wife ought to be allowed, for there would not be anything of a speculative character in it, or of the nature of a commercial enterpris, which is the real reason for the interdiction of such partnerships.
The other case is that of the woman lawyer whose husband is a judge. The Italian Code.of Civil Procedure, Article 116, sec. 10, states that objections may be made to the judge in the following case: "When one of his relatives or connections in the direct or collateral line to the third degree, undertakes the exclusive defense of a cause, as advocate or attorney.” If the legislature had thought of admitting women to the bar,
they would have indicated, among the reasons for challenging the judge, the marriage relation existing between the judge and his wife, acting as advocate for one of the parties. This consideration, which escaped the attention of the Turin Court, might have been invoked in Italy, against the admission of women to the bar.
Our Code of Civil Procedure has nothing of the kind; it fails to mention as a reason for challenging a judge, the relationship or alliance between judge and advocate, hence the preceding argument which has its raison d'etre in Italy, cannot-be used by our opponents.
A son may plead before his father, the magistrate; a wife could also do so before her husband, who most assuredly would have the tact to decline to sit as judge during the trial.
But our opponents will further urge, the work at the bar, the intellectual toil, so intense, continuous and absorbing, would it not injure the health of a woman? Those peculiar and periodic conditions to which the laws of nature subject her, would these not interfere with her endurance of the fatigue of the profession? Would she not be prevented from the prompt performance of her legal duties?
Advocates, as a general thing, are complaining that the number of new associates seems to increase proportionately to the decrease in the number of suits brought, and most of them lament this state of business stagnation. The work at the bar then, is not so absorbing as our adversaries would have us think, doubtless to help out their case.
The fitness of woman for a medical career or that of a pharmacist is recognized, yet physicians and pharmacists must hold themselves at the disposal of their patients at every minute of the day and night. Do not these professions occasion much severer fatigue than that of the advocate?
The health of women is thought of too late. If this pity which some persons pretend to feel for the sufferings of working women were sincere, it ought to be exercised toward those who, five hundred feet beneath the surface of the earth, are risking their lives in the mines, and avaricious employers should be forbidden to abuse the strength of women by putting upon
them tasks which are beyond their strength. Before denying women access to the bar on the ground of their health, we ought to prevent them from poisoning themselves in factories, in unhealthy workshops and weave-shops, where anemia, chlorosis and consumption are permitted to make their frightful ravages upon emaciated frames, whose health is decaying, while hardly any one cares for the sickly offspring to which they give birth.
As to the peculiar physiological conditions which have been invoked, are not the millions of women who earn their living by their labor, subjected to them? ,(The Rector, M. Wasseige invokes these physiological conditions as an argument against the practice of medicine by women. Discours rectoral, 1886–7, p. 17 et seq.)
Are female students assigned to particulai times for their examinations? Do classes have a holiday when their teachers are ill? Are the patients in hospitals left to treat themselves, during the periodical illness of the internes?
Do the thousands of women who practice medicine, leave their patients to die when they are suffering from catamenial disturbances? (In New York and Brooklyn, there are more than 900 women practicing medicine at the present time.)
In those courts in the United States where women practice as lawyers, is the regularity and expedition of procedure interfered with? And however numerous may be the peculiarities which differentiate the Yankee race from ours, I do not know that American women are subject to other physiological laws than those affecting our Belgian women.
THE LAW OF FEDERAL SUFFRAGE; an argument in support of. By Francis Minor, of the St. Louis Bar.
After noticing the decision of the U. S. Sup. Ct., in Ex parte Yarbrough (110 U. S., March, 1884), when Minor v. Happersett (21 Wallace, U. S.) was distinguished, the author goes on to say, as a result of that decision, that "Men do not vote for members of Congress by reason of their sex, or because they are men, but because they are citizens of the U. S. and members of the national body politic. The right of women to vote is based on the same ground and for the same reason. They constitute a part of the people' or 'citizens. There is not a word as to the sex of the electors."
There has been a surprising change, during the past few years, on the subject of woman suffrage.
When it does come fairly into politics, the opposition will be able to furnish no better arguments, than fear for existing institutions, for the position of women in society (not in the community), and for the future of practical politics as a lazy way of getting a living. There will be a parade of the same impure statements as greeted the co-education of the sexes; there will be the same old chivalrous talk as an apology for the ownership of the wife or daughters; texts will be wrenched out of the Book of books; all the devices of conservatism will be worked over again; until the daring and novelty of a change will make a break somewhere, and then a few years will make woman suffrage an accomplished fact. Then women will be found to be the most conservative of all the voters.-- Current Comment.