Federalist Papers Summary 45
The Federalist Essays Summary No 45: James Madison January 26, 1788
In this important paper Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, explains how the Constitution is designed to preserve States rights. It will be pointed out where Progressive ideas have diminished, eliminated or are still attempting to eliminate some of these safeguards. A point made early in the paper is that although some new powers not present in the Article of Confederation are conferred on the Federal Government, they are warranted since they are necessary and proper and without them there could be no Union and the Union preserves the peoples happiness by providing security and liberty.
But returning to the main point, history is on the side of States vs Federal Government for there are no good examples where sovereign authorities have combined to form a confederation where the authority of the confederation eventually surpassed that of the members. In our case, State Governments will have the advantage of the federal Government for a number of reasons. First the States can operate and organize independent of the federal Government but not vice versa since “without the intervention of the State Legislatures the President of the United States cannot be elected at all. They must in all cases have a great share in his appointment and will perhaps in most cases of themselves determine it.” Really, the idea was that State legislatures according to Article II would appoint electors equal to the number of Senators and Representatives, the Electoral College, and these electors would vote among themselves for president and vice president. Today of course the Federal Government decides how States will hold elections to decide how the electors will cast their votes. Progressives now want to eliminate the electoral college in favor of a popular nationwide vote thus completing the usurpation of States rights with respect to the election of the President.
According to Madison, States rights are further guarded because “the Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State Legislatures”. This important safeguard of State’s rights was removed during the Progressive era at the turn of the last century when the seventeenth amendment was ratified making Senators elected by the population and thus not directly accountable to the State Legislature for their actions. If an amendment to the Constitution can be unconstitutional this one is for the founders thought this right of the State Legislature to choose the Senators was of such importance that they included in Article I, section 4 the words “Congress may at any time by law make or alter such Regulations (regarding electing Senators and Representatives), except as to the Places of chusing Senators”. The places of choosing Senators is of course the State Legislatures.
Madison makes it absolutely clear that our Constitution was written by our founders with the purpose of creating a federal Government with few but necessary powers relative to those of the States. The following verbatim sentences from Madison’s Federalist paper prove this point. “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace. Negotiation, and foreign commerce, with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
The commerce clause is mentioned in the following way as one of the new powers to the Union not in the Articles: “The regulation of commerce, it is true, is a new power; but that seems to be an addition which few oppose, and from which no apprehensions are entertained”. And that is because as discussed in a previous summary only foreign commerce passing through various States was to be regulated.
One cannot read this paper without realizing that our judiciary that should be responsible for preserving and defending our Constitution and the liberties provided by it to the people has not only failed to do this basic duty but has with intent misinterpreted the document they have sworn to uphold. Since the judiciary will not carry out its responsibility, the President and Congress have been free to also ignore the Constitution or to interpret it to suit their desires. Is there any doubt that we must respond by using the means and power given to us by our founders who created a Republic where government is selected by the people and the people according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No 16 are the natural guardians of the Constitution?
Federalist Papers Summary 45 Written by Donald Mellon