In this Federalist Paper, Madison not only qualifies his reasoning for the importance of the separation of powers within government but compares the differences of this phenomenon within the thirteen original states, in the post revolution era. Madison contemplates the “particular structure of government and the distribution of this mass of power amoung its constituent parts.”
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
He goes on to state that: In Delaware, the chief executive magistrate is annually elected by the legislative department. The speakers of the two legislative branches are vice-presidents in the executive department. The executive chief, with six others, appointed, three by each of the legislative branches constitutes the Supreme Court of Appeals; he is joined with the legislative department in the appointment of the other judges. Throughout the States, it appears that the members of the legislature may at the same time be justices of the peace; in this State, the members of one branch of it are EX-OFFICIO justices of the peace; as are also the members of the executive council. The principal officers of the executive department are appointed by the legislative; and one branch of the latter forms a court of impeachments. All officers may be removed on address of the legislature.
Of course Delaware’s Constitution has gone through four changes with some improvements.
Madison is correct to be concerned and write this in the Federalist Papers because he foresaw that ambitious powerful men seeking power would use their position to control all branches of government both at the US and state levels. Even now we see misuse of power at the US level by the executive branch of government, by way of executive orders to override congress’ authority.
The power of the presidency is so great that none dare complain or file suit least they be ostracized and receive retaliation for their efforts.
Madison continues to describe the constitutions of Rhode Island,New York,New Jersey Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina. South Carolina and Georgia on the issue of separation of powers within the government and commented:
In citing these cases, in which the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments have not been kept totally separate and distinct, I wish not to be regarded as an advocate for the particular organizations of the several State governments. I am fully aware that among the many excellent principles which they exemplify, they carry strong marks of the haste, and still stronger of the inexperience, under which they were framed. It is but too obvious that in some instances the fundamental principle under consideration has been violated by too great a mixture, and even an actual consolidation, of the different powers; and that in no instance has a competent provision been made for maintaining in practice the separation delineated on paper. What I have wished to evince is, that the charge brought against the proposed Constitution, of violating the sacred maxim of free government, is warranted neither by the real meaning annexed to that maxim by its author, nor by the sense in which it has hitherto been understood in America. This interesting subject will be resumed in the ensuing paper.
I have seen, through the Federalist Paper and biographies of the Founding Fathers that, except for technology, they were dealing with many of the same problems in government. However, they were able to allow the constitution to be the law of the land.
Can we step up to the plate and once again make the United States’ Constitution, the supreme law of the land or will we allow our civil rights to be regulated away one by one by unconstitutional legislation?