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Alexander Hamilton's "Federalist No. 78" Essay

1061 words - 4 pages

In Federalist no. 78 Hamilton explains the powers and duties of the judiciary department as developed in Article III of the Constitution. Article III of the Constitution is very vague on the structure of the federal courts. Hamilton had to convince Americans that the federal courts would not run amok. He presented that the federal courts would not have unlimited power but that they would play a vital role in the constitutional government. Hamilton limited judiciary power by defining it as a text-bound interpretative power. (R.B Bernstein) This essay was intended to endorse as well as interpret the Constitution.
Hamilton approaches the people through this letter by pin pointing several key issues of worry and using his extensive knowledge and background to convince a new nation that they should see in favor of a new Constitution.
Hamilton is backing the judiciary branch as set up in the Constitution. He reiterates what is stated in Article III Section 1 of the Constitution that “all judges who may be appointed by the United States are to hold their offices during good behavior;” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 99-100) and that he believes it to be “one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government.” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100)
Hamilton uses fears of past despotism in monarchies and encroachments in representative bodies to persuade people to see that this essential law of good behavior “is the best expedient which can be devised in any government to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100)
Federalist no. 78 is persistent in its sort of justifications of the Constitutions vagueness. The letter claims that the judiciary branch is of the least danger of the three branches to the political rights of the Constitution “because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100) Comparing the executive to the “sword of the community” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100) and the legislature “not only commands the purse but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated.” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100) Hamilton gives the judiciary its power through judgment and states “It may truly be said to have neither FORCE NOR WILL but merely judgment;” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100) keeping judiciary truly separate from the executive and legislature allows Hamilton to make this branch appear to be the weakest and one which can never endanger the general liberty of the people.
Hamilton does admit to the judiciaries “continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its coordinate branches” (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100) but manages to turn this weakness into a strong and valid point “as nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office”. (Hamilton.Jay.Madison 100) The continual message of complete independence for the courts of justice within a limited constitution can be heard...

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