Adams-Obama and Jefferson-Trump
I have been studying the writings of our Founding Fathers. Throughout the readings I have been reminded of what I learned many years ago, when I first read their writings rather than to accept what others, including the media and professors, have interpreted them to mean.
I have often debated that Article III of our Constitution does not give sole authority to determine constitutionality of a law to the U.S. Supreme Court. I am frequently told that I am incorrect; my faith in my beliefs continue to be strengthened in the writings of our Founding Fathers. Our Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution that provides protections to prevent any one branch of government from being the final arbiter of what is or is not constitutional. One of my favorite presidents, Andrew Jackson, understood this when he responded to Chief Justice John Marshall’s order to force the State of Georgia to release Samuel Worcester for crimes he was convicted of in state court. President Jackson’s response was simple; “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”
There are a few things that we must remind ourselves of when we struggle with decisions that are made by the federal courts and executed by federal law enforcement through the use of funding established by the legislative branch. First, we must remember what Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter in his 1815 letter to W.H. Torrance, “The question whether the judges are invested with exclusive authority to decide on the constitutionality of a law has been heretofore a subject of consideration with me in the exercise of official duties. Certainly there is not a word in the Constitution which has given that power to them more than to the Executive or Legislative branches.”. Thomas Jefferson’s writings demonstrate his fear that the judicial branch would become more powerful than the founders intended and would eventually become a ruling elite. An inequality unchecked by the other two equal branches of government and as a result, a tyrannical branch of government in some instances. This fear can be seen in Jefferson’s 1820 letter to William Jarvis, “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”
President Jefferson’s fears of a tyrannical judiciary were not unfounded fears in his day, nor are they unfounded fears today. There is a significant difference between then and now. In the early years of our nation the Founding Fathers were able to write significantly about what the intentions of the phrasing our constitution was intended to mean. Their writings countered interpretations that twisted the true meaning of the document. Yet, even during a time when the Founding Fathers wrote to counter misinterpretations of our Constitution; it did not stop attempts by the Judicial branch to encroach on the authority of the executive and legislative branches. This is ever apparent in the 1803 case of Marbury v Madison, in which Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion creates the judicial review doctrine. What is often not taught in history about the Marbury v Madison case is it was John Marshall’s duty as Secretary of State for President John Adams to deliver Marbury his commission prior to the expiration of President Adams term. Secretary Marshall failed to deliver several commissions created by the Federalist legislature in the “Midnight Session”, to be appointed by President Adams, including Marbury’s.
I understand why the Founding Fathers did not create a judiciary with sole authority to decide what is or is not constitutional. President Adams and the Federalist were thrown from the halls of power by the American people with the election of President Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in the election of 1800. in one last attempt to prevent the will of the American people from being implemented, President Adams and the Federalist attempted to maintain power and control of the direction of the country through the courts. Chief Justice Marshall played a vital role in that plan. Although President Jefferson had the courage to stand up to Chief Justice Marshall and the Federalist who attempted to give themselves power over their equals, the precedent set in Marbury v Madison is still widely viewed as Constitutional power rather than a power granted to the judiciary by the judiciary.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court has become exactly what President Jefferson feared when he wrote “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” The U.S. Supreme Court has become the branch of government that in some instances has placed us under the despotism of an oligarchy because the executive and the legislative branches have failed to stand up to the Supreme Court when it acts outside the scope of its exclusive powers granted in Article III of the Constitution.
President Obama has used executive orders in his final days as President in an attempt to tie the hands of President Elect Trump, just as President Adams attempted to do to President Jefferson with judicial appointments. I believe President Trump has that same courage President Jefferson had when he stood up to Chief Justice John Marshall and the Federalists’ attempt to sabotage the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.
8th Justice Court