Federalist Papers Summary 80

Alexander Hamilton


Federalist Papers Summary No. 80


Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 80

The Federalist Papers Summary No 80: Hamilton
May 28, 1788

This very lengthy paper discusses the proper extent of federal judiciary authority of the union.  He first defines six classes of authority and then states why that authority is important for the union.  Following that he repeats the words in the Constitution giving judicial power to the federal Government and then relates the classes thus defined to the words in the Constitution.  To keep this summary to a reasonable length I will combine these two parts by first repeating the words in the Constitution as Hamilton organizes them and then summarizing the type of cases that each power includes and why they are important to the union.

Article III.  Section 2.  The judicial Power shall extend:

First.  To all cases in law and equity arising under the constitution and the laws of the United States.  This power is granted so that the Federal Government has the means to execute its laws and also to ensure a uniform interpretation of them.  An interesting point is what are cases in law arising under the Constitution?   Cases arising under the limited Constitution deals exclusively with actions prohibited in the Constitution such as if the states started printing money.

Second.  To treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States and to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls.  These types of cases have a connection with preserving  the national peace which is a function of the National Government so they should be adjudicated by national courts..

Third.  To cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.  Cases of this type provide the federal courts with cognizance of maritime causes.  These cases involve the laws of foreign nations and affect their citizens and are handled  by the federal courts to preserve peace between nations.

Fourth.  To controversies to which the United States shall be a party.  This involves cases between the nation and its members or citizens which can only be properly referred to the national tribunals.

Fifth.  To controversies between two or more states, between a state and citizens of another state, between citizens of different states.  These cases involve the peace of the union and cases where a state cannot be considered unbiased when judging a case involving itself.  Peace of the whole is dependent on the peace of the part, and history gives examples where countries have been torn apart by internal conflicts between member states.  Boundary disputes can disrupt the peace and any practice between the states that disturbs the harmony is a proper object of federal control.  Since the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several states the national judiciary ought to preside in all cases in which one state or its citizens are opposed to another state or its citizens. 

Sixth.  To cases between the citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states.  These cases also fall under the class of cases where a state court might be biased in its decision sand thus they should be tried by federal courts.  This is the only provision in the Constitution where the federal courts are involved in disputes between citizens of the same state. 

Seventh.  To cases between a state or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects.  These types of cases are obviously the jurisdiction of the federal courts since they involve foreign nations or citizens and could affect the national peace.


Summary Written by Donald Mellon


Federalist Papers Summaries Index Page


Read The Federalist Papers No. 80