J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Hamilton v. Addington

In the Boston Globe, Charlie Savage reports on historians' dumbfounded response to the Bush-Cheney administration's misuse of the Federalist Papers to justify unfettered executive-branch power. To whit:

Yet scholars from across the political spectrum question the historical cases Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have made. In an effort to find backing for their view of presidential power, these scholars argue, the administration has quoted selectively, taken passages out of context, and simply ignored what many constitutional scholars say is the Federalist Paper that most squarely addresses the president's wartime powers: Federalist 69.

Richard Epstein, a conservative law professor at the University of Chicago who embraces originalism, said Federalist 69 shows that the administration's legal theory is "just wrong" and called its failure to acknowledge the paper "scandalous."

"How can you not talk about Federalist 69?" he said. "All you have to do is go on Google and put in 'Federalist Papers' and 'commander in chief' and it pops up."

And indeed it does. Particularly striking is the fact that Alexander Hamilton wrote Federalist 69, not James Madison, who was more wary of a strong executive branch and a strong federal government (when he wasn't in charge of them). Even a man called a "monarchist" in the 1790s would fear the position pushed for the last five years by Cheney's former counsel, now chief of staff, David S. Addington.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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