|Judicial Learning Center – Federalist #78
Handout: Small Group, Read and Summarize Activity on The Federalist Papers
In The Federalist Paper #78, Alexander Hamilton points out that the lack of a federal court was a “deficit” in the Confederation. He goes on to point out that the creation and need for a federal court was not disputed; rather it was “the manner of constituting it” and “its extent” that caused concern.
The “manner of constituting it” refers to how the courts will be created. Hamilton notes that there are three basic concerns in this area:
1. The mode or method used to appoint judges.
2. The tenure or term by which judges will hold office.
3. The means by which judicial power or authority will be divided between different courts, and how these different courts will relate to one another.
Directions: Read Essay #78 from the Federalist Papers. As you read, discuss the following questions with your partner (provided below) to pull out the information and arguments presented by Hamilton to make his point on EACH issue. Then summarize his arguments on each point in your own words.
Questions to consider and summarize.
The mode or method used to appoint judges: (What did people fear about how federal judges would be chosen? How did Hamilton counter their concerns?)
The tenure or term by which judges will hold office: (What was/is the tenure or term of federal judges? Why was this a concern for some? How does Hamilton counter that argument?)
The means by which judicial power or authority will be divided between different courts, and how these different courts will relate to one another: (Hamilton does talk about the role of the courts in this essay, and thus talks about their power and authority. What does Hamilton imply the role or job of the courts will be? What does he argue about the limited nature of the courts’ power? )
After reading this essay and seeing Hamilton’s arguments, would you vote to ratify the Constitution that created the federal judiciary in this way? Why or why not?