17 February, 2009

Federalist Papers # 47 & 48

Main Thesis: In these editorials James Madison addresses the issue of separation of powers proposed in the newly proposed constitution. In Federalist No. 47 he discusses the need for the branches of government to be "separate and distinct". The Argument was the only way to prevent tyranny (Defined in quote below) the powers of government must be in separate hands. While in Federalist No. 48 the argument is over the manner in which the branches are "separate and distinct" while still retaining "constitutional control over the others". The point that Madison was arguing was that it is possible to prevent tyranny without having complete separation between the branches and in fact some control over the other branches is necessary to prevent tyranny. Madison's of these ideas on the separation of powers are derived from Montesquieu.


In Federalist No. 47 Madison looks at the state's constitutions and he finds that not one has any branches of government completely separate from each other.

Federalist No. 48 Madison looks at situations which had already arisen in the states where the legislative body had overstepped their delegated tasks and was not put into check by the other branches. These were in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

System of Checks and Balances

Legislative Executive Judicial
-House & Senate Accountable to each other

-Bill has to go through both House and Senate

-Neither may adjourn for more than 3 days without the others consent
-Impeachment Power

-Override Veto

-Declare War

-Allocate Funds

-State of Union address

-Selects the President if no Majority of electoral votes

-Approve Ambassadors, Treaties, Cabinet positions

-Approves appointed Judges
-Senate confirms Judges

-Impeachment Power

-Alter size of Supreme Court

-Initiate Constitutional amendments

-Sets jurisdiction of courts

-Can setup the inferior courts
-Veto Power

-VP is President of Senate

-Commander and Chief

-Can call an Emergency session of Congress

- Can force adjournment when Congress cannot agree
-Vice President and Cabinet can declare President unfit to discharge the duties of his office-Appoints judges

-Pardon Power
-Judicial Review-Judicial Review,

-Chief Justice sits as President of Senate during impeachment
-No self ChecksJudicial
Notable quotes:

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

"The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."

"When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body," says he, "there can be no liberty, because apprehensions may arise lest the same monarchic senate should enact tyrannical laws to execute them in a tyrannical manner."