Federalist paper 78 is one of the essays in the collection of papers written in the form of the discussions of the US Constitution. It was written by Alexander Hamilton on May 28, 1788, and specifically discusses the issues concerning the judiciary system of the United States of America as ruled by the Constitution.
To provide a concise summary of Federalist 78, it is important to underline that the essay was written to analyze the judiciary department and critically discuss the areas for improvement. At the beginning of his essay, Alexander Hamilton underlines that the existence of the judiciary system as an institution is not a subject of concern, but some specific features of constituting its processes are. Overall, Hamilton wrote five of the Federalist papers devoted to the judiciary, 78 being the first one. Thus, it was an important step toward the identification of the advantages and disadvantages of the existing terms of constituting the judiciary power.
The discussion of the concerns on the judiciary is constructed around the three main points of Federalist 78, which include the appointing of the judges, their tenure, and the partition of the judiciary power. Thus, firstly, the judges should be appointed to their positions in the same manner as the officers of the Union are. The second main point made by Hamilton in Federalist 78 concerns the term of judges’ service. As defined in the Constitution, Hamilton states, judges are appointed to hold their offices for life during good behavior. The author sees such an approach to the duration of service the only applicable since it preserves the opportunity to judge securely and independently.
The independence of the judiciary is one of the key ideas in the paper. Hamilton argues that the judicial branch must be independent of the other two branches of power, legislative and executive to ensure its unbiased judgement. The executive branch uses force to impose its influence on other branches. Similarly, the legislative power uses will to adopt laws that might impact the areas of influence of the other two branches. The judiciary branch, on the contrary, has no influence on the other two powers, only having a right of judgement. Such a distribution of forces makes the judiciary the weakest of all branches.
In relation to the third main point, the author emphasizes that the partition of the judicial power between different courts must be carried out within the allocation of more power to judges. According to Hamilton, the judiciary must be given the right of judicial review. It means that judges must have the power to declare unconstitutional laws null and void. In such a manner, the legislative and judicial branches will have a more equal scope of influence.
In Federalist 78, Hamilton provides a response to those who argued that judicial review makes the judicial branch superior to the legislative one. Since judges can obstruct the execution of some laws deeming them unconstitutional, it might be claimed that the legislature’s power is diminished. However, as the author argues, the task of both branches is to serve the people and not to fight for the power distribution.
Therefore, Federalist 78 is one of the articles that defined timely issues concerning the interpretation of the US Constitution and made a significant contribution to the making of US law.