Tag Archives: Madison

On Impeachment

Supporters of corrupt Presidents, from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton… all use the same erroneous argument about the Impeachment provision of the Constitution.  “But he didn’t commit a high crime!”   

 

If only our Framers had specific indictable crimes in mind when they included… the all important Impeachment provision.  The historical record clearly shows “High crimes and misdemeanors”  is a standard based on all facets of public conduct.

Listen to this rap

In Federalist 65, Hamilton writes : “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

 

Madison argues in the Convention debates that impeachment can be used if the President “fails to discharge the duties of his office.”  

The Framer

“it will make him in a peculiar manner, responsible for [the] conduct” of executive officers. subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.”

 

Should we scrutinize the current occupant of the White House more diligently? 

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Mr. Madison’s Mind

Historians are often baffled by James Madison… In 1787, there was no stronger voice for nationalism and strengthening the federal government; yet, by 1790 he was battling one-time ally, Alexander Hamilton over the very powers they helped create.  Madison had become an advocate of limited government in less than a Presidential term.  What happened?

With friends like these...

With friends like these…

Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”… and creator of the Bill of Rights-  the commonly held description of our most overlooked Founder.  We view this change in his political outlook as inconsistency, or even a problem.  This opinion hangs on the assumption that Madison was responsible for the final draft of the Constitution.  He authored the Virginia Plan, the radical framework that altered the course of the 1787 Convention.  Of the document produced in September, Madison said,  “It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.”  Most historians assumed Madison was being modest- in fact, he was expressing his displeasure with the process.  Madison wanted a Federal government that could control the wildly inconsistent passions of state governments, but he did not advocate a massive consolidation of power.

Author of the Virginia Plan

Author of the Virginia Plan

Federalist #10 is Madison’s warning aboutthe dangerous passions that consumed state governments.  From 1784 to 1787 he toiled in the Virginia legislature, witnessing the worst governance(or lack thereof) he could imagine.  The Federal government he envisioned would temper these passions(and blunders)  and provide the regulation to help the Union move forward. Madison opposed Hamilton’s financial programs because he feared they brought the same economic passions driving policy in the states  into Congress. The very threat Madison looked to alleviate caused his split Hamilton.  Madison remained consistent to the end. 

 

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Leave Madison Alone

Joe Ellis explained the absence of serious Madison biographies… by proclaiming “he’s boring as hell” and that “only lawyers like him.”   As previously stated, Ellis’s recent comments on the Framers and Original Intent cast doubt on the rigor of his scholarship- and these nuggets of wisdom only enhance the evidence of his misguided revisionism.

Never far apart

Never far apart

The revision Ellis is peddling holds that Madison and other Framers… rejected the doctrine of Original Intent on its face.  The only empirical evidence supporting this notion is Madison’s oft quoted explanation for not publishing his notes on the Constitutional Convention.  Once established, the government continued to disappoint Madison, driving him closer to his friend Jefferson.  During his presidency, Madison undoubtedly supported Original Intent as he battled John Marshall and Congress for the soul of the Constitution.  He feared the elasticity in the Constitution was being abused by ambitious demagogues- Madison wanted the power of government restrained- his original intent.

What have your wrought, Joe?

What have your wrought, Joe?

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The American Spirit

Madison argues that oligarchy is difficult in America because of our size and diversity… but critics consistently cited the House of Representatives as the most susceptible institution in the new government.

james-madison

Anti-Federalists argued that the Representatives would have the least amount of sympathy… with the masses of people; focusing exclusively on the narrow interests of their few electors, ignoring the will of the majority.  Madison first counters with a historical analysis of the British system and the necessary role of states in the Federal system.  But he concludes his argument in Federalist #57 by appealing to what he describes as the American Spirit:

 

“If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

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Cousin vs. Cousin

Thomas Jefferson battled with his cousin, John Marshall… over the role of the federal judiciary, but also over the direction of our young republic.  Jefferson long feared an unchecked judicial branch during the ratification crisis- Marshall’s decision in Marbury v. Madison only deepened his distrust.

Keep legislating to a minimum

Keep legislating to a minimum

The Court determined at once, that being an original process, they had no cognizance of it; and therefore the question before them was ended. But the Chief Justice went on to lay down what the law would be, had they jurisdiction in the case, to wit: that they should command delivery . . . . Besides the impropriety of this gratuitous interference, could anything exceed the perversion of law?
Yet this case of Marbury and Madison is continually cited by bench and bar, as if it were settled law, without any animadversion on its being an obiter dissertation of the Chief Justice. like gravity by night and day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the states, and the government of all be consoli¬dated into one.” Jefferson 1804

Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

Marshall answered:

“For Mr. Jefferson’s opinion as respects this department, it is not difficult to assign the cause. He is among the most ambitious, and I suspect among the most unforgiving of men. His great power is over the mass of people, and this power is chiefly acquired by professions of democracy. Every check on the wild impulse of the moment is a check on his own power, and he is unfriendly to the source from which it flows. He looks of course with ill will at an independent judiciary.”  Marshall 1807

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The American Spirit

Madison argues that oligarchy is difficult in America because of our size and diversity… but critics consistently cited the House of Representatives as the most susceptible institution in the new government.

james-madison

Anti-Federalists argued that the Representatives would have the least amount of sympathy… with the masses of people; focusing exclusively on the narrow interests of their few electors, ignoring the will of the majority.  Madison first counters with a historical analysis of the British system and the necessary role of states in the Federal system.  But he concludes his argument in Federalist #57 by appealing to what he describes as the American Spirit:

 

“If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

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Filed under Ephemera, News

On Impeachment

Supporters of corrupt Presidents, from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton… all use the same erroneous argument about the Impeachment provision of the Constitution.  “But he didn’t commit a high crime!”   

 

If only our Framers had specific indictable crimes in mind when they included… the all important Impeachment provision.  The historical record clearly shows “High crimes and misdemeanors”  is a standard based on all facets of public conduct.

Listen to this rap

In Federalist 65, Hamilton writes : “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

 

Madison argues in the Convention debates that impeachment can be used if the President “fails to discharge the duties of his office.”  

The Framer

“it will make him in a peculiar manner, responsible for [the] conduct” of executive officers. subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.”

 

Should we scrutinize the current occupant of the White House more diligently? 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized