Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jefferson on the Power of the Courts, part 6

How much power should the courts have in relation to the other branches of government? Recent posts here have shown various statements he has made on the topic. It may seem odd that I quote Thomas Jefferson so much, considering he was not involved in actually writing/debating/ratifying the Constitution and Bill of Rights. However, to the "man on the street" and even the courts, Jefferson's words in refernce to the First Amendment, "separation of church and state," have come to be used as an authoritative explanation of the First Amendment. (In almost all cases where that phrase is used in articles and discussions, it is not accompanied by the actual word of the First Amendment.)

So here is a quote from the University of Virginia's article on Jefferson and the Judiciary. It helps explain why he made all the quotes I have already included.

"Who should make the final decision on interpreting the Constitution? The Supreme Court in the case of Marbury v. Madison, which was decided during the first term of President Thomas Jefferson, determined that IT should make the final decision for all branches of government, and that opinion has remained in force ever since. Jefferson, however, strongly opposed Judicial Review because he thought it violated the principle of separation of powers. He proposed that each branch of government decide constitutional questions for itself, only being responsible for their decisions to the voters."

More of Jefferson's thoughts can be found on the University of Virginia site

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