Read the passage. excerpt from Federalist No.

Read the passage.

excerpt from Federalist No. 78 by Alexander Hamilton

In 1787 and 1788, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers to persuade voters to ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States of America. These papers included essays about all three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. In Federalist No. 78, Hamilton focused specifically on the judicial branch.

Whoever attentively considers the different departments of 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 a 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 sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be 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.

This simple view of the matter suggests several important consequences. It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; and that all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks. It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that “there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.” And it proves, in the last place, that as liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments; that as all the effects of such a union must ensue from a dependence of the former on the latter, notwithstanding a nominal and apparent separation; that as, from the natural feebleness of the judiciary, it is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its co-ordinate branches; and that as nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office, this quality may therefore be justly regarded as an indispensable ingredient in its constitution, and, in a great measure, as the citadel of the public justice and the public security.

The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex-post-facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.

How does Hamilton’s use of the phrase “beyond comparison” and the word never in this excerpt from Paragraph 2 affect the passage?

It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; . . . that . . . the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislative and the Executive.

  • They help provide a diverse sample of opinions on the subject.
  • They help provide specifics about Hamilton’s position.
  • They help convey the intensity of Hamilton’s belief in his position.
  • They help convey the honesty with which Hamilton approaches the subject.

How does Hamilton support and advance his purpose in this passage?

  • By revealing potential government limitations, Hamilton highlights the ways in which an independent judiciary can solve the problems caused by a flawed system.
  • By using repetition to highlight his main point, Hamilton shows that creating an independent judiciary is the single most important job of any government.
  • By expressing complete certainty in his position, Hamilton presents his argument in favor of an independent judiciary as one to which no logical objection exists.
  • By challenging evidence in opposing arguments, Hamilton discredits those who would prefer the courts to be subject to the control of the executive or legislative branches.

How does Hamilton convey his ideas about the power of the judicial branch of the government in Paragraph 1?

  • He asserts that the judiciary’s central role is to oversee the “FORCE” and “WILL” imposed by the other two branches of government, thereby depicting the judiciary as the most powerful branch.
  • He focuses on what the judiciary has the power to do, irrespective of the powers held by the executive or legislative branches of government.
  • He compares the powers of the executive and legislative branches to those of the judiciary, highlighting the strengths of the former and the relative weaknesses of the latter.
  • He depicts the powers of the executive and legislative branches in figurative terms—as controlling the sword and the purse, respectively—to stress that the judiciary is just as powerful as the other two.

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