Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Altering the Constitution

The Federalist Papers were a compendium of 85 essays, published separately between October 1787 and August 1788, to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.

At the time, the new nation was ruled under the Articles of Confederation, which gave the several States even more autonomy, and less cohesion as a Union, than was eventually called for under the document that eventually took its place. While the authors of the Papers were undisclosed, most scholars attribute the works to Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.

In a 1999 article, the late Joe Sobran observes that the authors would be aghast to see to what extent the rights of the several States, to say nothing of the people, have devolved in the present day. He places particular attention on the power wielded by the judiciary.

Jefferson warned that the federal government must never be allowed to be the sole and final judge of its own powers, because it would construe those powers so broadly as to destroy all limits on them. Yet we now take for granted that the U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to decide what the Constitution means, though no such authority is given to it in the Constitution itself.

Most Americans know little about the Constitution, and much of what they know ain’t so. They “know” there are three branches of government, that each state has two U.S. senators, and that the Bill of Rights says something about freedom of speech; and they are content to let the Supreme Court fill in the blanks. And conservatives do little to correct this impression.

...and, as we observe, the founders warned us of the scenario to which we may be subjected today.


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