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The Power Of Judicial Review

1323 words - 6 pages

The late 1700s and early 1800s were a time full of expansion and innovation in the United States of America. The country was getting bigger, both in population and in geographic size, and the government was getting more powerful as well. This was because of the new Constitution that was put into place in 1787 that replaced the Articles of Confederation and took most of the power away from the individual states and gave it to the federal government. When the Constitution was ratified, both Brutus (believed to be Robert Yates), and Alexander Hamilton were in a debate over the potential power of the federal government, and more specifically, the power of the Supreme Court in Federalist 78 and Brutus’ eleventh and twelfth letters. Alexander Hamilton supported the proposed system and expressed his belief that the judiciary did not have too much power by any means. Brutus was more concerned that the court would simply side with the government and would therefore have too much power over the states. In 1803 one of the biggest landmark cases ever reached the Court, Marbury v. Madison. This case was not directly about the power of the court, but similar to most Supreme Court cases, it turned into a debate about something more crucial. By reading John Marshall’s opinion on the Marbury v. Madison case, it is apparent that Brutus originally had the better idea about the Supreme Court’s power due to his overwhelming wisdom and excellent foresight into what the judiciary would eventually become.
In Brutus XI and XII, Brutus wanted to express a widely seen concern about the power of the Judiciary arm of the government. The Constitution and the Federalists both had an ample amount of things to say about the executive and legislative branches, but the judiciary was not really spoken of. One concern about the power of the court was that they had no superiors. The justices were appointed by the President, but they served for life terms and had no other supervisors to answer to once they had their position secured. There were essentially no checks and balances in regards to their decisions. At least that was the concern, and the people had every right to believe it. Another concern of Brutus was that eventually the politics of the other branches of the federal government would interfere with the court and the justices would practically be able to pass legislation indirectly using their expanded power. He stated, “the courts are vested with supreme and controllable power, to determine, in all cases that come before them, what the constitution means” (Brutus XI). Thirdly, Brutus wanted the powers of the Supreme Court to be explicitly laid out so there would be no debate. He argued that the court should only focus on the interpretation of the Constitution and show no preference between the government and the people. However, Brutus believed that they would eventually begin to lean towards the government’s best interests. One of his main points in his twelfth letter is...

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