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vored by only a very few of the members, and the proposition first adopted was to give the executive alone a revisionary check upon legislation, which should not be absolute if it were afterwards overruled by two thirds of each branch of the legislature.1
But inasmuch as this provision would leave the precise purposes of the check undetermined, and in order, as it would seem, to subject the whole of the legislative acts to revision and control by the executive, some of the members desired that the judiciary, or a convenient number of the judges, might be added to the executive as a council of revision. Among these persons were Mr. Madison and Mr. Wilson. The former expressed a very decided opinion, that, whether the object of a revisionary power was to restrain the encroachments of the legislature on the other departments, or on the rights of the people at large, or to prevent the passage of laws unwise in principle or incorrect in form, there would be great utility in annexing the wisdom and weight of the judiciary to the executive. But this proposition was rejected by a large majority of the States, and the power was left by the committee as it had been settled by their former decision. These proceedings, however, do not furnish any decisive evidence of the nature and purpose of the revisionary check.
But before this feature of the Constitution had
been settled by the committee, they had determined on a mode in which the executive should be appointed. It is singular that the idea of an election of the executive by the people, either mediately or immediately, found so little favor at first, that on its first introduction it received the votes of but two States. Since the executive was to be the agent of the legislative will, it was argued by some members that it ought to be wholly dependent, and ought therefore to be chosen by the legislature. The experience of New York and of Massachusetts, on the other hand, - where the election of the first magistrate by the people had been successfully practised, – and the danger that the legislature and the candidates might play into each other's hands, and thus give rise to constant intrigues for the office, were the arguments employed by others. Upon the introduction of a proposition that the States be divided into districts, for the election by the people of electors of the executive, two States only recorded their votes in its favor, and eight States voted against it.1 By the vote of eight States it was then determined that the executive should be elected by the national legislature for the term of seven years; 2 and subsequently it was determined that the. executive should be ineligible to a second term of office, and should be removable on impeachment and conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty. A single
1 Pennsylvania, Maryland, ay, 2; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Virginia,
North Carolina, South Carolina,
2 Pennsylvania and Maryland, no.
executive was agreed to by a vote of seven States against three.' After the mode in which the negative was to be exercised had been settled, an attempt was made to change the appointment, and vest it in the executives of the States. But this proposal was decisively rejected.2
The judiciary was the next department of the proposed plan of government that remained to be provided. Like the executive, it was a branch of sovereign power unknown to the Confederation. The most palpable defect of that government, as I have more than once had occasion to observe, was the entire want of sanction to its laws. It had no judicial system of its own for decree and execution against individuals. All its legislation, both in nature and form, prescribed duties to States. The observance of these duties could only be enforced against the parties on whom they rested, and this could be done only by military power. But it was the peculiar and anomalous situation of the American Confederacy, that the power to employ force against its delinquent members had not been expressly delegated to it by the Articles of Union; and that it could not be implied from the general purposes and provisions of that instrument, without a seeming infraction of the article by which the States had reserved to themselves every power, jurisdiction, and right not "expressly" delegated to the United States. If this objection was well
1 New York, Delaware, and Maryland, no.
2 Nine States voted against it, and one (Delaware) was divided.
founded, — and it was universally held to be so, — we may well concur in the remark of The Federalist, that “the United States presented the extraordinary spectacle of a government destitute even of the shadow of constitutional power to enforce the execution of its own laws.'
The Confederation, too, had found it to be entire ly impracticable to rely on the tribunals of the States for the execution of its laws. Such a reliance in a confederated government presupposes that the party guilty of an infraction of the laws or ordinances of the confederacy will try, condemn, and punish itself. The whole history of our Confederation evinces the futility of laws requiring the obedience of States, and proceeding upon the expectation that they will enforce that obedience upon themselves.
The necessity for a judicial department in the general government was, therefore, one of the most prominent of those "exigencies of the Union," for which it was the object of the present undertaking to provide. The place which that department was to occupy in a national system could be clearly deduced from the office of the judiciary in all systems of constitutional government. That office is to apply to the subjects of the government the penalties inflicted by the legislative power for disobedience of the laws. Disobedience of the lawful commands of a government may be punished or prevented in two
1 The Federalist, No. 21.
modes. It It may be done by the application of military power, without adjudication; or it may be done through the agency of a tribunal, which adjudicates, ascertains the guilty parties, and applies to them the coercion of the civil power. This last is the peculiar function of a judiciary; and in order that it may be discharged effectually, the judiciary that is to perform this office must be a part of the government whose laws it is to enforce. It is essential to the supremacy of a government, that it should adjudicate on its own powers, and enforce its own laws; for if it devolves this prerogative on another and subordinate authority, the final sanction of its laws can only be by a resort to military power directed against those who have refused to obey its lawful commands.
One of the leading objects in forming the Constitution was to obtain for the United States the means of coercion, without a resort to force against the people of the States collectively. Mr. Madison, at a very early period in the deliberations of the Convention, declared that the use of force against a State would be more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.1 At his suggestion, a clause in Governor Randolph's plan authorizing the use of force against a delinquent member of the confederacy was laid aside, in
1 Madison, Elliot, V. p. 140.