By weight of precedent, few principles in U.S. law should be better
settled than the right of federal judges to enforce their orders and
judgments by criminal-contempt penalties, assessed without juries. Yet
last week the Supreme Court itself came perilously close to denuding
the judiciary of its summary criminal-contempt powers. In 1789 the
First Congress, following common-law practice, specifically granted
federal courts the power "to punish by fine or imprisonment, at the
discretion of said courts, all contempts of authority in any cause or
hearing before the same." In 1890 the Supreme Court...
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