• The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 23
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    The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 23

    FEDERALIST No. 23. The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to the Preservation of the Union From the New York Packet. Tuesday, December 18, 1787. HAMILTON To the People of the State of New York: THE necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union, is the point at the examination of which we are now arrived. This inquiry will naturally divide itself into three branches—the objects to be provided for by the federal government, the quantity of power necessary to the accomplishment of those objects, the persons upon whom that power ought to operate. Its distribution…

  • Treating the Constitution Like Silly Putty
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    Treating the Constitution Like Silly Putty

    A lot of people treat the constitution like silly putty. If you’ve ever played with silly putty, you know you can stick it on newsprint and it will pick up a mirror image of the page. A lot of people think they can do the same thing with the constitution. They stick on to whatever political opinion they like and imagine the constitution just picks it up. Then they pull on the edges to create new and interesting forms that were never approved by the people who gave it legal force. This is pretty much what people are doing when they claim the constitution is living and breathing and was…

  • Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump? with Robert Reich
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    Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump? with Robert Reich

    Trump has asked a foreign power to dig up dirt on a major political rival. This is an impeachable offense. Come back in time with me. In late May 1787, when 55 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to begin debate over a new Constitution, everyone knew the first person to be president would be the man who presided over that gathering: George Washington. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “The first man put at the helm will be a good one,” but “Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards.” Initially, some of the delegates didn’t want to include impeachment in the Constitution, arguing that if a president was bad he’d be voted…

  • The ‘Nightmare’ of a Tweeting President
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    The ‘Nightmare’ of a Tweeting President

    The idea of a tweeting president would have been a Madisonian dystopia. Madison said in Federalist Ten that direct communication between representatives and their constituents was an evil to be avoided because it could hasten mob rule. Think of the president’s tweets. And this is not just President Trump; President Obama was the first tweeting president. Insulting people, putting them down, angrily denouncing them. The American founders Madison and Hamilton fear that mobs, or factions as they call them, were mobilized when they’re animated by passion rather than reason. And to the degree that social media technology makes it possible to have instant polls and to aggregate mobilized minorities or…

  • “But nullification isn’t listed in the Constitution!”
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    “But nullification isn’t listed in the Constitution!”

    Nullification isn’t specifically listed in the Constitution. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Every once in awhile, someone tells us, “The Constitution doesn’t say anything about nullification. That means states simply can’t do it.” But they’ve got things totally backwards. It’s true that the federal government has limited powers and is only authorized to do the things delegated to it in the Constitution. As James Madison put it in Federalist #45, “the powers delegated by the proposed constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” If a power isn’t delegated, the federal government simply is not authorized to do it. On the other hand, states have reserved…

  • Bill of Rights Turns 225
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    Bill of Rights Turns 225

    SOLEDAD: OUR CONSTITUTION’S BILL OF RIGHTS TURNED 225 YEARS OLD THIS WEEK, RATIFIED ON DECEMBER 15, 1791. WRITTEN BY JAMES MADISON, THE DOCUMENT LAYS OUT OUR INDIVIDUAL FREEDOMS AND LIMITS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S ABILITY TO INTERFERE WITH THEM. A CRITICAL, FOUNDATIONAL DOCUMENT. SOMETHING AMERICANS MUST KNOW LIKE THE BACK OF THEIR HAND. RIGH>>I AM NOT SURE.>>CAN YOU NAME THEM? WHAT OFFHAND, I CANNOT.>>MY TEACHER WOULD BE MAD AT ME. I FORGOT.>>THE BILL OF RIGHTS?>>I DON’T KNOW.>>HIGH SCHOOL WAS A WHILE AGO.>>IT LIMITS THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT AND PROTECTS THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS. SOLEDAD THAT, OF COURSE, WAS AN : UNOFFICIAL STUDY. HERE’S DIANE ROBERTS WITH MORE. DIANE: THE BILL OF…

  • The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 85
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    The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 85

    FEDERALIST No. 85. Concluding Remarks From MCLEAN’s Edition, New York. Wednesday, May 28, 1788 HAMILTON To the People of the State of New York: ACCORDING to the formal division of the subject of these papers, announced in my first number, there would appear still to remain for discussion two points: “the analogy of the proposed government to your own State constitution,” and “the additional security which its adoption will afford to republican government, to liberty, and to property.” But these heads have been so fully anticipated and exhausted in the progress of the work, that it would now scarcely be possible to do any thing more than repeat, in a…

  • The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 22
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    The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 22

    FEDERALIST No. 22 The Same Subject Continued (Other Defects of the Present Confederation) From the New York Packet. Friday, December 14, 1787. HAMILTON To the People of the State of New York: IN ADDITION to the defects already enumerated in the existing federal system, there are others of not less importance, which concur in rendering it altogether unfit for the administration of the affairs of the Union. The want of a power to regulate commerce is by all parties allowed to be of the number. The utility of such a power has been anticipated under the first head of our inquiries; and for this reason, as well as from the…

  • The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 28
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    The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 28

    FEDERALIST No. 28. The Same Subject Continued (The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered) For the Independent Journal. Wednesday, December 26, 1787 HAMILTON To the People of the State of New York: THAT there may happen cases in which the national government may be necessitated to resort to force, cannot be denied. Our own experience has corroborated the lessons taught by the examples of other nations; that emergencies of this sort will sometimes arise in all societies, however constituted; that seditions and insurrections are, unhappily, maladies as inseparable from the body politic as tumors and eruptions from the natural body; that the idea…

  • The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 21
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    The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 21

    FEDERALIST No. 21 Other Defects of the Present Confederation For the Independent Journal. HAMILTON To the People of the State of New York: HAVING in the three last numbers taken a summary review of the principal circumstances and events which have depicted the genius and fate of other confederate governments, I shall now proceed in the enumeration of the most important of those defects which have hitherto disappointed our hopes from the system established among ourselves. To form a safe and satisfactory judgment of the proper remedy, it is absolutely necessary that we should be well acquainted with the extent and malignity of the disease. The next most palpable defect…