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American Political Thought

Terms in this set (93)

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself."

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

"It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers; but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part."

"In a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people, is submitted to the administration of a single government; and usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people, is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each, subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises on the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other; at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.

"In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.
"The most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome.

"If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior."

"Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution."

"It is to be the assent and ratification of the several States, derived from the supreme authority in each State, the authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore establishing the Constitution, will not be a NATIONAL, but a FEDERAL act."

"In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several states, a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects."

"The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican? It is evident that no other form would be reconcileable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the revolution; or with that honourable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government."
Discusses the necessity for a smaller House of Representatives.

"The aim of every political Constitution is or ought to be first to obtain for rulers, men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whist they continue to hold their public trust"

"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.

"Such will be the relation between the House of Representatives and their constituents. Duty gratitude, interest, ambition itself, are the cords by which they will be bound to fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people."

"It is possible that these may all be insufficient to control the caprice and wickedness of man. But are they not all that government will admit, and all that human prudence can devise?"

"The aim of every political Constitution is or ought to be first to obtain for rulers, men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whilst they continue to hold their public trust...The most effectual one is such a limitation of the term of appointments, as will maintain a proper responsibility to the people."
Outlines the necessity for the Senate to both unify the nation to prevent from foreign influence in the States, and to represent the people in the creation of stable and responsible policy.

"Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to objects within the power of the responsible party, and in order to be effectual, must relate to operations of that power, of which a ready and proper judgment can be formed by the constituents."

"Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens, the hemlock on one day, and statues on the next."

"The people can never willfully betray their own interests: But they may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the people; and the danger will be evidently greater where the whole legislative trust is lodged in the hands of one body of men, than where the concurrence of separate and dissimilar bodies is required in every public act."

"As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually will in all free governments ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind?"
He defends his choice to violate "one law" in his effort to execute the rest of them and keep the country unified.

"So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war power of the Government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction, by force, for its preservation."

"The call was made; and the response of the country was most gratifying; surpassing, in
unanimity and spirit, the most sanguine expectation. Yet none of the States commonly called Slavestates, except Delaware, gave a Regiment through regular State organization."

"The forbearance of this government had been so extraordinary, and so long continued, as to lead some foreign nations to shape their action as if they supposed the early destruction of our national Union was probable."

"I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand, and appreciate this. It is worthy of note, that while in this, the government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the Army and Navy, who have been favored with the offices, have resigned, and proved false to the hand which had pampered them, not one common soldier, or common sailor is is known to have deserted his flag."

"As a private citizen, the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish; much less could he, in betrayal of so vast, and so sacred a trust, as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink; nor even to count the chances of his own life, in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility, he has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours."
Publius answers the charge made by Brutus and other Anti-Federalists that the judiciary will be too powerful. He defends the power of judicial review.
- Manner of constituting judicial review follows 3 key elements: 1- Mode of appointing judges 2- The tenure by which they are to hold their places. 3- The partition of the judiciary authority between different courts and their relations to each other.

"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 judgement; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgement."

"And it proves, in the last place, that liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other departments."

"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 . . ."

"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.
FDR's most profound statement of his view of the history and future of America. He "calls for a reappraisal of values," because "The day of enlightened administration has come." He aimed to secure a place for progressive principles in American political discourse by interpreting them as an expansion of the natural rights tradition.
Upon winning office Roosevelt saw his election as the people's approval of the new social contract. In exchange he promised swift and, if necessary, unprecedented executive action to stabilize the economy, relieve Americans of grinding poverty and unemployment, and preserve the essence of democracy in the United States.
"I want to speak not of politics, but of government. I want to speak not of parties but of universal principles."

"Is the soberer, less dramatic business of administering resources and plants already in hand, of seeking to reestablish foreign markets for our surplus production, of meeting the problem of under consumption, of adjusting production to consumption, of distributing wealth and products more equitably, of adapting existing economic organizations to the service of the people. The day of enlightened administration has come."

"A glance at the situation today only too clearly indicates that equality of opportunity as we have known it no longer exists." "We are steering a steady course toward economic oligarchy, if we are not there already."

"Every man has a right to life; and this means that he has also a right to make a comfortable living."
Justice Brown makes the claim that if the plaintiff feels that enforced separation of races implies inequality, it is simply because "the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it."

Justice Harlan, in his dissent, claims that this is akin to allowing the state to "regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon the basis of race."

Opinion: "We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it... The argument also assumes that social prejudice may be overcome by legislation, and that equal rights cannot be secured except by an enforced commingling of the two races... If the civil and political rights of both races be equal, one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane."

Dissent: "I am of the opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberties of citizens, white and black, in that State, and hostile to both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of the United States. If laws of like character should be enacted in the several States of the Union, the effect would be in the highest degree mischievous. Slavery as an institution tolerated by law would, it is true, have disappeared from our country, but there would remain a power in the States, by sinister legislation, to interfere with the blessings of freedom; to regulate civil rights common to all citizens, upon the basis of race; and to place in a condition of legal inferiority a large body of American citizens, now constituting a part of the political community, called the people of the United States, for whom an by whom, through representatives, our government is administrated. Such a system is inconsistent with the guarantee given by the Consititution to each State of a republican form of government, and may be stricken down by congressional action, or by the courts in the discharge of their solemn duty to maintain the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."
Allan Bakke was a 35-year-old white man who had applied for admission to the university of California Medical school at Davis. He was rejected both times. Out of the class of 100 students, the school reserved sixteen places for minorities. Bakke's qualifications for the medical school, including his college GPA and test scores, exceeded those of any of the minority students admitted in the two years Bakke's applications were rejected. Bakke sued the University of California arguing that the medical school's admission policy violated parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. In Justice Powell's opinion for the court, he rejected three of the school's arguments

1) The interest in reducing the historic deficit of traditionally disfavored minorities in medical schools and in the medical profession as an unlawful interest in racial balancing.
2) The interest in remedying societal discrimination because such measure would risk placing unnecessary burdens on innocent third parties "who bear no responsibility for whatever hard the beneficiaries of the special admission program are thought to have suffered."
3) The interest to increase the number of physicians who will practice in communities currently underserved

"In short, an admissions program operated in this way is flexible enough to consider all pertinent elements of diversity in light of the particular qualifications of each applicant, and to place them on the same footing for consideration, although not necessarily according them the same weight"
In Barack Obama's speech, he responds to Reverend Jeremiah Wright's "inflammatory racial comments." (Wright was known for being outspoken about his opinions regarding America's racist policies abroad and at home.) Obama "unequivocal[ly]" condemns the statements of Reverend Wright, claiming that they "expressed a profoundly distorted view" of America. However, he goes on to describe Wright with admiration and contextualizes his comments by outlining a history of America's race relations. The speech was viewed widely by the American public and is considered to have had a significant effect on the presidential campaign. It also foreshadowed Obama's tone throughout his campaign and presidency.

...we've heard my former pastor... use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

"I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely—just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed."

"But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country—a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America..."