Judicial Branch Group Work

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Department
Political Science
Course
POS 2041
Professor
Meredith Legg
Semester
Spring

Description
The Power of the Judicial Branch: The Federalist Number 78 and theAnti-Federalist 78 Introduction When the Constitution was first written, many people supported it. However, there were some people who were opposed to it. The framers feared that not enough states would ratify it and decided to write a series of persuasive papers to influence people's opinion. They attempted to convince people that the structures and concepts in the Constitution were right for a country seeking to balance power between a national government, state governments, and the people. The series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, appeared in local newspapers under the pseudonym Publius. Later, these articles were compiled and published as a book called The Federalist Papers. Others who opposed the Constitution compiled their response in a document called The Anti-Federalist Papers. The Federalist Number 78 and the corresponding Anti-Federalist document dealt specifically with the judicial branch of government. Read the excerpts from each of these texts then answer the questions that follow. The Federalist No. 78 WE PROCEED now to an examination of the judiciary department of the proposed government. According to the plan of the convention, all judges who may be appointed by the United States are to hold their offices DURING GOOD BEHAVIOR. . . . In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws. Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary . . . may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments. This simple view of the matter suggests several important consequences. It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two . . . that . . . the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean, so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislative and the Executive. For I agree, that "there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers." And it proves, in the last place, that as liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments . . . and that as nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office, this quality may therefore be justly regarded as an indispensable ingredient in its constitution, and, in a great measure, as the citadel of the public justice and the public security. The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex-post-facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of the courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing. If it be said that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers . . . it may be answered, that this cannot be the natural presumption, where it is not to be collected from any particular provisions in the Constitution. It is not otherwise to be supposed, that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their WILL to that of their constituents. It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative bo
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