Considering last week at the SCOTUS, George Mason would look good on a sawbuck
Two hundred twenty-seven years ago, there were predictions of errors and usurpations by the Supreme Court.
Hamilton, within Federalist #81, addressed the following concern.
The errors and usurpations of the Supreme Court of the United States will be uncontrollable and remediless.
Sadly, with today’s dearth of historical teachings is the absence of the study of the Federalist Papers in historical curricula. After all, why study the intent and explanation of a dead document crafted by slave-holding white men in wigs?
All the cautions and the predictions that power gravitates and corrupts, many of the conditions outlined to prevent the faults of previous forms of government, the foretelling of the deviations from the plan and predicted power imbalances if not checked can be found in these papers, authored to justify the ratification of the Constitution. Some checks did not hold, and we reap the harvest of self-expanding and out-of-control branches of government – most notably and of late via the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). (Other candidates: the executive branch and the Federal Reserve.)
Even Hamilton, and likely Madison, could not have predicted the shift in power from the elected representatives of the people to the court. As noted, there were critics who saw it coming. Those anti-federalists also foresaw the danger of allowing the federal government to tax within the states. Taxation is control, and don’t we know it now? Though John Marshall was in favor of allowing federal taxation within a state and thus voted for the Virginia ratification, he strangely later had an epiphany when he stated, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” Federal taxation and the control it brings of federal over state is in lockstep with the SCOTUS and its propensity to rule against state authority.
Let us see if this paragraph below pertains to last week’s decisions by the SCOTUS.
Hamilton responds to critics of the proposed powers of the SCOTUS in his Federalist #81. He first presents the concerns of those critics.
The authority [opponents say] of the proposed Supreme Court of the United States, which is to be a separate and independent body, will be superior to that of the legislature. The power of construing the laws according to the SPIRIT of the Constitution, will enable that court to mould them into whatever shape it may think proper; especially as its decisions will not be in any manner subject to the revision or correction of the legislative body. This is as unprecedented as it is dangerous[.] ... [T]he errors and usurpations of the Supreme Court of the United States will be uncontrollable and remediless.
This, upon examination, will be found to be made up altogether of false reasoning upon misconceived fact. ... [T]here is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution.[.]
Despite the brilliance of the authors of the Federalist Papers, despite being diligent and astute in studying the governments of prior centuries to craft the Constitution, Hamilton did not foresee the boundless greed for power by the court. Errors and usurpations are rife and remediless.
Maybe it is now the proper time to replace Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill with an anti-federalist, for it was the anti-federalists who foresaw the conditions of our current government. The control that federal taxation would wield over the states and the power encroachment, without remedy or recourse, by the SCOTUS were their main concerns. Right they were. George Mason would look good on a sawbuck. (Or maybe Patrick Henry.)