Marbury v. Madison: Document B, Federalist No. 78, 1788
This summer the Bill of Rights Institute is blogging a document-based question on the Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803). Each weekly post will feature an excerpted document related to the case, along with some questions to guide your thinking on it. Each document should be used to address the question: “Argue whether or not the Supreme Court should have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws.”
Check out our previous post for Document A, an excerpt from the Anti-Federalist Papers.
Federalist No. 78, 1788
Whoever attentively considers the different departments of the power must perceive that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sowrd or purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may be truly said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment ; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.
>Why does Hamilton call the judiciary the “least dangerous” branch of government?
Check back each week to see the next document and how it might change your thinking on this important question that affects all public school teachers and students in the U.S.! If you are enjoying this DBQ – be sure to check out our curriculum Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases the Changed History.