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Now we have seen that the Constitution of the United States has endeavoured to guard itself by every precaution that it is in the power of a republican constitution to adopt, against being, or if possible, ever becoming, a pure democracy. It is described by its framers as "a Constitution of limited and balanced powers;" the democratic element in it is subjected to numerous and powerful checks, and in point of fact, when contrasted with the power and “influence” of the President, and the higher and more independent position of the Senate, that element is greatly reduced in relative weight and authority, and is unable suddenly to overbear the other two branches of the Legislature. But above all, it has, above it, and the Senate, and the President, the authority of the judiciary—the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States not a subordinate, but, be it always borne in mind, a co-ordinate power in the State. It is that power which is charged, in the last resort, to check any the slightest inroads upon or deviations from the strict letter of the Con
stitution; to oppose any possible invasions of democracy upon the distribution and balance of power, as established by the formal consent of the great body of the community; to act in all emergencies threatening that balance, as the great conservative power of the State, able to declare “void and of none effect” any legislative attempts to overturn it.
Such a power, above and paramount to any Act of the Legislature, we know nothing of under our system of government; yet, without it, a House of Commons, constituted as the advocates of extreme opinions in this country desire, would be without check or control, and a mode of government would be established in this country as widely different from that possessed, under their Constitution, by the people of the United States, as a limited constitutional government is from a pure democracy.
But would the advocates of those extreme opinions desire to take a further step, and endeavour to assimilate our institutions entirely to those of the United States ?
If so, they must be then prepared for a change in the
mode of carrying on the business of legislation, which will make it entirely different from that to which we have hitherto been accus. tomed. They must be prepared to abandon what we are accustomed to call “parliamentary government.” Under the legislative system of the United States, parliamentary government does not exist. With us, if the Minister for the time being, in the ordinary course of things, has not the support of the majority of the House of Commons, he must resign, and give way to a ministry that has. Under the system of the United States, neither President nor Ministry have any absolute necessity for a majority in either House of Legislature, and have in
many instances, carried on the Government for two, three, and four years, without it.
years, without it. The advocates of extreme popular opinions in this country wish to invest the House of Commons with an authority and power so direct and immediate in its action, as to be liable to little or no restraint from any other powers in the State. If they were to endeavour to arrive at
their object by inducing this country to adopt the institutions of the United States, they would very soon find that the present high and independent position of the House of Commons would have been exchanged for one in which the Senate would share with them the power over the public purse, and in which the President would be able by his “influence" to cause the supplies to be voted by majorities in both Houses adverse to his general policy. Moreover, they would discover, if the analogy between the two Legislatures in both countries were fully carried into effect, that, instead of the House of Commons being, as now, the most prominent of the two Houses of Parliament in all matters of legislation, and by far the most powerful of the two, it would have been reduced to inferiority, both in position, in general estimation, and in power. I should be sorry if, in drawing compari
between our system of constitutional government and that of the United States, I should be thought by any one in that country to have been actuated by feelings in the least
degree approaching to hostility or unkindness. I have been compelled, by the evidence of facts, to show that their constitutional system, in its actual practice, has in several important points deviated from the path marked out for it by the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and declined from the standard therein held up to their admiration and reverence. I have shown this in the words of the ablest commentators, and of some of the most distinguished statesmen who have adorned the annals of their country. And I have been justified, by reference to the plain and open current of events in all parts of the Union, in inferring that the way
is being prepared for still greater deviations from the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, by the successful attacks that have been made upon that which has been regarded as the very “ citadel” of their institutions, the independence of the judicial body. It may not be agreeable to many persons in the United States that these matters should be brought forward into the general light, and submitted to observation in Europe. We are sometimes told also