Sunday, October 7, 2007

Quote of the Day

It's long, but I feel this quote is as appropriate today as it was then. Here we have Abraham Lincoln in 1858, in his debate with Douglas, quoting Thomas Jefferson from 1820. It's something to keep in mind as we hurtle toward a second amendment showdown with the supremes. Whether or not they uphold the second amendment, and I hope they do, it does not lessen it's standing at all. For example, just because some group of people declares the Earth flat or round, doesn't change the facts. Even if we didn't have a second amendment, our right to defend ourselves and country is still no less valid.

"In public speaking it is tedious from documents; but I must beg to indulge the practice to a limited extent. I shall read from a letter written by Mr. Jefferson in 1820, and now to be found in the seventh volume of his correspondence, at page 177. It seems he had been presented by a gentleman of the name of Jarvis with a book, or essay, or periodical, called The Republican, and he was writing in acknowledgement of the present, and noting some of its contents. After expressing the hope that the work will produce a favorable effect upon the minds of the young, he proceeds to say:—

'That it will have this tendency may be expected, and for that reason I feel an urgency to note what I deem an error in it, the more requiring notice as your opinion is strengthened by that of many others. You seem, in page 84 and 148, 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 maxim is, ‘boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem;’ (It is the duty of a judge, when requisite, to amplify the limits of his jurisdiction.) and 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. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and cosovereign with themselves.'

Thus we see the power claimed for the Supreme Court by Judge Douglas, Mr. Jefferson holds, would reduce us to the despotism of an oligarchy."