Thomas Jefferson - thoughts on Judiciary
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Judiciary - Thomas Jefferson's Take
The Constitution sets up three branches of government, with a checks and balance setup. In theory each of the three branches; Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, should all have equal power
and they should have the ability to stop stop the other from trampling the rights of the citizens and the principles set forth in the constitution. But Thomas Jefferson saw the Judicial branch of the government as the one branch that was capable of slowly changing those rights and enacting laws without the consent of the people. Here are a few quotes from Thomas Jefferson on the topic
of Judiciary power.
At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions,nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that the invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is no made to be trusted for life, if secured against all inability to account.
- Letter to Monsieur A. Coray, October 31, 1823
The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow,) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.
- Letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821
The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity ever acting, with noiseless foot, and alarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding with it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of which feeds them.
- Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, March 9, 1821
The judiciary of the United states is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. ... A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing, but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.
- Letter to Thomas Ritchie, December 25, 1820
I think that if we do not keep an eye on the worm or miners (as Jefferson calls them,) it may be to late to stop the precedence that they have already set.
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