Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: August 13, 1788

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

8/13/1788: Federalist No. 85 is published by Alexander Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton


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  1. Scholars have long wondered why Hamilton kept writing these things. The necessary two-thirds of the states had put the Constitution into law in June 1788. By the time of #85 the only holdouts were North Carolina and Rhode Island, neither of which trusted the centralist arguments of the big money men. Unless Hamilton was hoping that one day it would be mentioned on Josh’s blog.

  2. to balance a large state or society (says he) whether monarchical or republican, on general laws, is a work of so great difficulty, that no human genius, however comprehensive, is able by the mere dint of reason and reflection, to effect it. The judgments of many must unite in the work: EXPERIENCE must guide their labour: TIME must bring it to perfection: and the FEELING OF inconveniences must correct the mistakes which they inevitably fall into, in their first trials and experiments

    This seems a bit anti-originalist, eh?

    1. I believe he is discussing spontaneous self-organization as opposed to central planning. Markets, not governments.

      1. Uhh, no he’s not.

        Do you know what the Federalist Papers are about?

    2. It certainly does. And also sensible, if not self-evident.

    3. I am sure Holmes has been canceled these days, but “the life of the law is not logic, but experience” and “law is not a brooding omnipresence in the sky” both stand up.

      1. How about “it is revolting to have no better reason for a rule than that such was so in the time of Henry IV [or in 1789]”

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