The Supreme Court: Palladium of Freedom

The Supreme Court: Palladium of Freedom

The Supreme Court: Palladium of Freedom

The Supreme Court: Palladium of Freedom

Excerpt

The Constitution was extorted from the grinding necessity of a reluctant nation. -- John Quincy Adams

The thinking of any age tends to be pervaded by the notion that human beings are at some final crossroad, that men, faced with hard alternatives, must choose and act quickly. Thereafter the ceaseless struggle which has racked mankind will presumably end, and society at last will achieve the normalcy of peace. Still unrecognized is the sobering truth that peace, in the sense of lack of dissent, opposition, or conflict, is something we can never attain; it may be irrational to try. Yet even the politically astute James Madison sometimes thought in apocalyptic terms. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 would, he said, "decide forever the fate of Republican Government." Madison was mistaken. The latitude of choice was not so confined; nor were the decisions then made in any sense final.

Madison boasted that the American people had accomplished a revolution "which has no parallel in the annals of human society." They "reared the fabrics of government which have no models on the face of the globe." That effort was both experimental and unfinished. Responsibility still rests on successive generations to "improve and perpetuate" the majestic design fashioned in 1787.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, was the meeting place of the Convention that framed the Constitution. From that same place, eleven years earlier, Jefferson had proclaimed the right of the people to establish a new government more in keeping with their safety and happiness. The meeting place and the documents signal-

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