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Federalist Papers #76

2005-10-07 14:05:42.797559+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

You remember, probably vaguely from your American History class in High School, something called The Federalist Papers. Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, they were intended to gain support for the U.S. Constitution by explaining the meaning and reasoning behind that document. In modern times, if you, perhaps, call yourself an "originalist" and claim that documents should be interpreted in the language of the times in which they were written, these would be critical papers in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

In light of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court, I'd like to quote extensively from The Federalist Papers #76: The Appointing Power of the Executive, the bit about presidential nominations:

To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.

It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entier branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and, in the case of an elective magistrate, to his political existence, from betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

(hat tip)

[ related topics: Politics moron Law ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-07 14:14:21.66736+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

So does this mean you agree that the constitution is not a 'living' document and should not be reinterpreted in light of todays prejudices? You are implying here that an 'orginalist' view is best, and I concur.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-07 14:27:55.818239+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm not an originalist. I think that the process of trying to figure out what the original language meant introduces way too many situations in which bias and slant can be inserted, and I think Scalia has proved that.

I also think that this proves, no matter what his rhetoric, that Dubya is not an originalist either.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-07 14:42:23.538986+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh yeah: I also think that originalism leads to "arms means muskets" sorts of rhetoric.