Sunday, February 22, 2009

Two Articles

These two articles look interesting:

Seth Barrett Tillman, The Puzzle of Hamilton's Federalist No. 77: It Turns out that Hamilton was Right After All:

The Founders, the authors of the Constitution of 1787, much like you and me, were flesh-and-blood human beings. As a result, we expect to find errors and exaggeration in their written works. There is nothing new about that insight. But one alleged error has always struck me as somewhat different from other alleged errors. I am speaking of Hamilton's 1788 publication: The Federalist No. 77. There he wrote:

IT HAS BEEN MENTIONED as one of the advantages to be expected from the co-operation of the Senate, in the business of appointments, that it would contribute to the stability of the administration. The consent of that body would be necessary to displace as well as to appoint. A change of the Chief Magistrate, therefore, would not occasion so violent or so general a revolution in the officers of the government as might be expected, if he were the sole disposer of offices. Where a man in any station had given satisfactory evidence of his fitness for it, a new President would be restrained from attempting a change in favor of a person more agreeable to him, by the apprehension that a discountenance of the Senate might frustrate the attempt, and bring some degree of discredit upon himself. Those who can best estimate the value of a steady administration, will be most disposed to prize a provision which connects the official existence of public men with the approbation or disapprobation of that body which, from the greater permanency of its own composition, will in all probability be less subject to inconstancy than any other member of the government.

This is the enigmatic great white whale among Founding-era documents.

Partisans of Senate (or congressional power) agree with Hamilton (or, at least, they think they agree with Hamilton). These commentators look back to the Tenure in Office Act and to any number of statements made on the floor of the House when statutory removal was first debated in 1789 -- all purportedly consistent with Hamilton's statement here. Partisans of presidential power disagree with Hamilton (or, at least, they think they do). They affirm that Hamilton erred. These commentators look to Myers v. United States and to statements made by Madison on the floor of the House during the statutory removal debates. The consensus view, nay - the universal view, is that Hamilton was speaking to the issue of the "removal" of federal officers.

However, this understanding of The Federalist No. 77, the standard view, the view that Hamilton was speaking to "removal," creates as many problems as it might resolve. And this is true without regard to whether or not you think Hamilton correct or erred. First, the standard view is puzzlingly inconsistent with everything we know about Hamilton, the premier Founding-era spokesman for energy and unity in the Executive. How is it that he would concede a role for the Senate in regard to the removal of federal officers, if a contrary view were even remotely tenable? Second, Hamilton's opining on the scope of the removal power is inconsistent with his plan for and the purpose of The Federalist. His plan for The Federalist was to discuss the defects of the then-current regime, the government under the Articles, the need for a more energetic government, and finally, to provide an article-by-article, clause-by-clause defense of the newly proposed Constitution of 1787 as consistent with the principles of Republican government, liberty, and property. Removal is simply not expressly addressed in the Constitution. To bring up "removal" is just bad tactics - why open up that can of worms, particularly where one's conclusion lacks direct textual support or any closely reasoned argument. Was Hamilton really such a poorly skilled tactician and propagandist? There is a third problem with the standard view .... This problem is not historical, but textual. If you read Hamilton's statement, you will notice that he does not actually use the word "removal" or any variant on "removal." Rather, he uses the word "displace." And that is the key to this ancient intellectual puzzle. Hamilton was not speaking to the power of removing federal officers, rather he was speaking to who had authority to displace federal officers. The two words are akin, but they are not at all times and for all purposes the same.

Lawrence B. Solum, Incorporation and Originalist Theory:
Does the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution incorporate the Bill of Rights contained in the first eight amendments? And how should an originalist answer that question? This paper focuses on the latter question-the issues of originalist theory that are raised by judicial and scholarly debates over what is called "incorporation."

The inquiry proceeds in six parts. Part I answers the questions: "What is incorporation?" and "What is originalism?" Part II examines the theoretical framework for an investigation of incorporation that operates within the narrow confines of interpretation of the linguistic meaning text based on the assumption that the original meaning of the text is solely determined by the public meaning for ordinary citizens at the time of framing and ratification. Part III relaxes the assumption that "original meaning" is determined solely by the linguistic practices of the whole community and considers the possibility that the phrase "privileges or immunities" was a term of art with a technical meaning for those learned in the law. Part IV relaxes the assumption that the incorporation debate must be resolved solely by interpretation of linguistic meaning and considers the possibility that incorporation doctrine might be viewed as a construction of an under determinate constitutional text. Part V considers the implications of the possibility that the "privileges or immunities clause" instantiates what might be called a failure of constitutional communication, considering the possibility of a saving or mending construction of the clause. Part VI concludes.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Dear Blogger:

    Thank you for mentioning my article. If you send me your address (e-mail or snail-mail), I will add you to my reprint list.


    (2R's, 2T's, 2L's)


Related Posts with Thumbnails