Quotes Supporting Principle Five

From The American Ideal...

LIBERTIES SAFEGUARDED THROUGH CHECKS AND BALANCES---TO CREATE DELAYS

The use of checks and balances in the forms of government, is to create delays and multiply diversities of interests, by which the tendency on a sudden to violate them may be counteracted.

John Adams ("On Government," 1778)

LIMITS FIXED BY THE CONSTITUTION

Liberty and security in government depend not on the limits, which the rulers may please to assign to the exercise of their own powers, but on the boundaries, within which their powers are circumscribed by the constitution. With us, the powers of magistrates, call them by whatever name you please, are the grants of the people . . . The supreme power is in them; and in them, even when a constitution is formed, and government is in operation, the supreme power still remains. A portion of their authority they, indeed, delegate; but they delegate that portion in whatever manner, in whatever measure, for whatever time, to whatever persons, and on whatever conditions they choose to fix.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Wilson (Lectures, 1790-1791)

OATH TO SUPPORT THE CONSTITUTION---ONLY

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;

Constitution of the U.S., Art. VI (Note: Art. II, Sec. 1, prescribes a similar oath for the President.)

INSTANT ALARM AND ACTION NEEDED--"AT THE FIRST EXPERIMENT ON OUR LIBERTIES"

Because, it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.  We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of [the] noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.

James Madison ("Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments"-- Addressed to the General Assembly of Va., 1785)

DANGER OF USURPATION BY THE SUPREME COURT

. . . there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming, instrumentality of the supreme court.

Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Wm. Johnson, 1823)

The executive . . . holds the sword . . . The legislative [Congress] . . . commands the purse . . . The judiciary . . . has no influence over either the sword or the purse . . . can take no active resolution whatever . . . liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, [as usurpers] but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments . . ." [in usurping power]

The Federalist (no. 78, by Alexander Hamilton)

That the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States, or of any other Court to be instituted by the Congress, is not in any case to be encreased enlarged or extended by any Fiction Collusion or mere suggestion; . . .

New York Ratifying Convention, 1788 (Part of proposed amendments to the Constitution)

It is not probable that the Supreme Court would long be indulged in a career of usurpation opposed to the decided opinions & policy of the Legislature [Congress]. Nor do I think that Congress, even seconded by the Judicial Power, can, without some change in the character of the nation, succeed in durable violations of the rights & authorities of the States.

("Durable" emphasized in original; other emphasis added.) James Madison (Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, 1821)

A TRUTH ABOUT USURPATION

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

John Dickinson (Emphasis per original.)("Notes" in Political Writings)

ESPECIALLY PERTINENT EXCERPTS FROM WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL ADDRESS

ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE THEIR CONSTITUTION

The basis of our political systems is the tight of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.

"NO CHANGE BY USURPATION" IS THE FUNDAMENTAL MORAL PRINCIPLE UNDERLYING SELF-GOVERNMENT AND RULE-BY-LAW

If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield. (Emphasis added)

EFFECTIVE CHECKS AND BALANCES NEEDED

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free Country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the Powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power; by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. (Emphasis added.)