Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What would the Founders think? Balances and Checks

“The powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.” Thomas Jefferson
The phrase checks and balances has become so commonplace, it is often spoken as if it were a single word, but in the eighteen century, it was two distinctly different concepts. John Adams may have been the first to put the words together in his 1787 publication, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, but balances and checks is the phrase used in The Federalist, and that is the sequence Madison would have thought appropriate. First balance powers between the branches of government, and then place checks on those powers so they are not abused.
A Defense Of The Constitutions Of Government Of The United States Of America, Against The Attack Of M. TurgotThe Federalist PapersTempest at Dawn

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