Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Jefferson anticipated the danger

Jefferson on the danger of the judiciary

Letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821: "The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped."

Letter to Thomas Ritchie, Dec. 25, 1820: "The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, 'boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem.'"

3 Comments:

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Pindar said...

Two excellent examples of Jefferson's thought couched in masterful English, as was the case with all the Founding Fathers. They just thought more deeply and wrote better than we do. One possible translation of the English legal maxim is: "It is the part of a good judge to enlarge his jurisdiction."

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger Pindar said...

Two excellent examples of Jefferson's thought couched in masterful English, as was the case with all the Founding Fathers. They just thought more deeply and wrote better than we do. One possible translation of the English legal maxim is: "It is the part of a good judge to enlarge his jurisdiction."

 
At 11:17 PM, Blogger Pindar said...

A small addendum to the English maxim quoted above. I occurred to me that of the greedy judge eager to enlarge his jurisdiction it could be said with Hamlet that "increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on".

 

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