The Founders on the Judiciary

In the State Constitutions, and, indeed, in the Federal one also, no provision is made for the case of a disagreement in expounding them; and as the Courts are generally last in making the decision, it results to them, by refusing or not refusing to exercise a law, to stamp it with its final character.  This makes the Judiciary Department paramount to the legislature, which was never intended and can never be proper.
— James Madison

 

Nothing in the Constitution has given them (judges) a right to decide for the Executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them…
— Thomas Jefferson

 

The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional… not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislature and executive…would make the judiciary a despotic branch.

— Thomas Jefferson

 

You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…. Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.

— Thomas Jefferson

 

The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.

— Thomas Jefferson

 

On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.
— Thomas Jefferson

More quotes will be added soon.