Everywhere we turn today we find those who think immoral, unconstitutional judicial opinions are the law. This is especially true in Washington. But nothing could be further from the truth. Such a pernicious notion is in fact a coup d'etat against our republican form of constitutional self-government.
“You seem . . . to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despot...ism of an oligarchy...The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.”
-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Jarvis, Sept. 28, 1820
“Nothing in the Constitution has given them [the federal judges] a right to decide for the Executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them. . . . The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.”
-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Abigail Adams, September 11, 1804
“…The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address