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Thomas Jefferson

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The Constitution of the United States asserts that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty.
--
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Justice William Johnson (1823).

 
Thomas Jefferson

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I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That "all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people." To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.
The incorporation of a bank, and the powers assumed by this bill, have not, in my opinion, been delegated to the United States, by the Constitution... They are not among the powers specially enumerated...

 
Thomas Jefferson
 

[T]he constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it. . . . It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. . . . So if a law be in opposition to the constitution; if both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution disregarding the law; the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is the very essence of judicial duty. . . . Those then who controvert the principle that the constitution is to be considered, in court, as a paramount law, are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the constitution, and see only the law. This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written constitutions . . . It would be giving the legislature a practical and real omnipotence . . . The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the constitution.

 
John Marshall
 

The opponents of the Constitution declared that the larger states would disturb the United States by their powerful contentions; the supporters replied that those contentions were sure to disturb the continent if the larger states were not united, much less sure to do it if they were united and so could be expected to arrive at peaceable agreements.
The opponents of the Constitution were convinced that the people of the individual states could be protected only by their states armed with full, or at least substantial sovereignty. The supporters of the Constitution knew that conflicting sovereignties had been the causes of most wars, in which the people have regularly suffered.
The opponents of the Constitution in 1787 could talk only of the difficulties of forming a new government The supporters of the Constitution aware of the dangers facing the Confederation, demanded that a new government be attempted, no matter what the difficulties.

 
Carl Van Doren
 

It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the United States generally, but those only which shall be made in pursuance of the constitution, have that rank. Thus, the particular phraseology of the constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.

 
John Marshall
 

Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.

 
Theodore Roosevelt
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