Alexander Hamilton

Judicial Independence and the Role of Alexander Hamilton

Judicial independence became a focal point of Alexander Hamilton's defense of the courts. He asserted that life tenure for judges and judicial impartiality were two key ideas in the theory of democratic government. The offices had to be permanent in order to protect judges from different political pressures. (Hamilton, Madison, & Jay, 2009). This independence served as a safeguard against the Congress or the president interfering with the judiciary's authority. In addition to being essential for achieving perfect objectivity, this freedom extended further into democratic politics and helped make justices external. As a result, the judges would not be subject to direction from or be bound by the power they evaluate. The Framers of the constitution at a convention in 1787 made the decision to have the Senate and the president involved in the judicial selection process (Levy, 2000).

The two would get involved in the appointment of the principal officers besides the Supreme Court Justices. The reasons behind the Senate and the president getting involved are attributed to the power of two opposing sides. One group feared forms of abuse by the executive with the appointing power and the legislature which had favored appointments. The second group, consisting of determined men, was concerned about the establishment of a strong national government. The group further favored the granting of powers of appointment to the elected president. It is true to argue that the Congress' appointment power would result in filling the offices with their potential supporters. The decision was, therefore, essential to ensure that there was a balance in the selection process.

Alexander Hamilton's Views on the Judiciary

Alexander Hamilton believed that the judiciary would be the government's least dangerous branch. His argument was based on the idea that the third branch neither had the power over the executive branch nor the legislature's political passion. The judiciary was, therefore, without an 'army' which would enforce the rulings made. Besides, it did not have a mechanism that would scare the citizens. The only weapon at its disposal was integrity, which would be snatched anytime if there was a need for manipulations (Levy, 2000). On an in-depth analysis of his words, it is clear that he was right. The judiciary did not have the relatively greater powers that the other branches had and thus, had the least capacity of barring their decisions. The executive branch had the responsibility to dispense honors and at the same time, hold the community's sword. The legislature was in charge of commanding the purse and prescribed the rules that would regulate the duties and the rights of the citizens.

The Importance of Judicial Elections

Part Two

Judicial elections are the key to guaranteeing the longevity of the judicial system. As a result of this, it has eventually led to a stable form of government in the country as a whole. To achieve this, it is worth appreciating the efforts that were made by Alexander Hamilton in the writing of the Federalist 78 where the emphasis on the judicial independence was laid. Marbury v. Madison brought some changes in the judicial independence which catered for the rights enshrined in the constitution. The first generation of judges that were appointed found themselves in a difficult situation in the protection of the minority rights at a time when the majority had significant strength. This is one of the reasons why the judicial elections were not adopted in other parts of the world. Hamilton further argued that the elections of the judges should be purely based on merit rather than the number of participations in fundraising (Hamilton & Syrett, 1973).

Many states have opted to be electing their judges. The State of Mississippi, the regressive policies leader, in 1832 made it possible for the judges to be elected according to the stipulations of the state (Hanssen, 1999). By the time the civil war began, 21 states were electing their judges. This shift can be attributed to the ideas propounded in the Jacksonian Democracy that emphasized the need to return the government to the hands of the people from the elites (Hamilton et al., 2009). This marked a great achievement and kept the democratic spirit higher than it had ever been. Currently, there are several ways to select the judges. These include the Missouri plan, the partisan election, and the non-partisan election.

Accountability and Challenges of Judicial Elections

Judicial elections make the judges more accountable. The main reason why the election of the judges is more preferred is not because the voters have better skills in the evaluation of resumes but the accountability given to the citizens. As a result, enhancing the voter control gives them the powers to punish the judges who make unpopular decisions on sensitive issues such as the minority rights. Judicial elections impact negatively on the judicial independence. Judges are supposed to be totally free from negative consequences for the decisions they make at the bench. They, therefore, tend to make some decision in a manner that is appealing to the electorate thus make them vulnerable.


Hamilton, A., Madison, J., & Jay, J. (2009). The Federalist Papers: Federalist no. 78. (pp. 2352-40). Palgrave Macmillan US.

Hamilton, A., & Syrett, H. C. (1973). The papers of Alexander Hamilton (Vol. 19).Columbia University Press.

Hanssen, F. A. (1999). The effect of judicial institutions on uncertainty and the rate of litigation: The election versus appointment of state judges. The Journal of Legal Studies, 28(1), 205-232.

Levy, L. W. (2000). Original intent and the framers' constitution. Rowman & Littlefield.

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