14 the framers of the constitution also debated

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14 The Framers of the Constitution also debated whether or not the Supreme Court could or would have the power to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional. The Anti- Federalist fear was that if the Court was afforded this power, the Court would become inherently more powerful than the legislature, upsetting the equal-branch, checks and balances approach to government that the Founders intended (Hamilton). Hamilton commented on this, saying that ―No legislative act, … , contrary to the Constitution, can be v alid‖ (Hamilton). He sets up an argument stating that because Congress must follow the Constitution, not allowing the Court to rule congressional acts as unconstitutional when, in fact they were, would in effect say that Congress was more powerful than the Constitution, which both Federalist and Anti-Federalist camps agreed, it was not. The first time the Court ruled an act of Congress unconstitutional was not until 1803 in Marbury v. Madison (Shnayerson 115). Although the details are largely unimportant, this decision, written by the famous Chief Justice John Marshall, declared an act of Congress unconstitutional, stating that Congress overstepped the powers granted to it by the Constitution. As can be expected, President Thomas Jefferson was furious that the Court did this, but there was little he could do. Once the Court delivered an opinion, it endured, unless a future case overruled it or a constitutional amendment changed it. In a later and similarly politically charged case President Jackson allegedly said, ―John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it‖ (Shnayerson 99). Clearly, as Hamilton argued, the Court did not have the power to enforce the decision. Not inconsequentially, the Court would not declare another act of Congress unconstitutional for another fifty years (Murphy et. al. 47-48).
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15 After much debate, the language that the Framers finally agreed upon, and what was finally ratified in Article III of the Constitution, provides little information as to how the courts should operate and even less guidance on how they should be staffed. The three short sections of Article III explain that judges of the Supreme and lower courts will continue in their posts during good behavior and will receive compensation for their services. The article also explains the original jurisdiction 5 of the Supreme Court and a brief explanation of treason. 6 In its entirety, though, the article provides little guidance and leaves much open to interpretation. How actual trials should be conducted and what qualifications the judges should have are not discussed. This is due, more than likely, to the novel nature of the co-equal federal court system and not a mere oversight. The Founders did not have good models upon which to base the judiciary, forcing them to use only broad terms, which left much open to interpretation (Shnayerson 56-64).
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