The Republican Party

William Howard Taft, Republican candidate for president in 1912, had a history of supporting labor injunctions and appealing to laissez-faire arguments. He also opposed any movement to grant organized labor more rights under the law, including a proposal to exempt unions from prosecution under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Taft told a labor union his reasons for opposing this proposal:

"I am entirely opposed to such class legislation. If it was proposed to amend the language of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law itself so as somewhat to narrow its scope, that would present a proper question for consideration, but so song as the present Anti-Trust Law remains upon the statute books an attempt to modify its enforcement so as to render immune any particular class of citizens, rich or poor, employers or employees, is improper legislation and in my judgement ought to be opposed by your Brotherhood. The laboring man and the trade unionist, if I understand him, asks only equality before the law. Class legislation and unequal privilege, though expressly in his favor, will in the end work no benefit to him or to society." [The Outlook, July 9, 1910]

In his speech accepting the Republican nomination for president in 1912, Taft stated:

"Again, the Democratic party in Congress and convention shows its desire to weaken the courts by forbidding the use of the writ of injunction to protect a lawful business against the destructive effect of a secondary boycott and by interposing a jury in contempt proceedings brought to enforce its order and decrees. These provisions are really class legislation designed to secure immunity for lawlessness in labor disputes on the part of the laborers, but operating much more widely to paralyze the arm of the court in cases which do not involve labor disputes at all."

Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, responded to Taft's frequent charges of "class legislation":

"Mr. Taft then repeated his unwarranted and unsupported statement that the working people desire class legislation, or want immunity for any one who is lawless. His statements . . . emphasize not only his own attitude of mind, but the average corporation lawyer's mental paralysis; that is, that the courts and the law partake of a divine, incorruptible nature, before which all other claims, human or otherwise, sink into insignificance. . . . 'Business' Mr. Taft deems of vastly more importance than human rights, and what he contemptuously designates as social justice. . . . Mr. Taft disapproves of social justice, deprecates equality before the law of workers with other citiznes, and does not favor an organization for workingmen whereby they may secure justice for themselves as well as for the people generally." {from the American Federationist, November 1912}