Federalist 48

These Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated as to Have No Constitutional Control Over Each Other – Madison

[Read the full text of Federalist 48]

Separation of Powers also means that each branch must protect itself from the other two.

I shall undertake, in the next place, to show that unless these departments be so far connected and blended as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly maintained.

Human nature will always seek to consolidate power therefore each branch must be restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.

One of the methods of tyranny overlooked in the past is the “danger to liberty from the overgrown and all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate, supported and fortified by an hereditary branch of the legislative authority.”

Therefore, we should consider the rule of incumbents to be a threat to liberty

  • the bureaucracy that accompanies the incumbent,
  • the media friendships that accompany the incumbent,
  • the legislation built upon by the incumbent,
  • the tax code initiatives produced by the incumbent.

It would be interesting to chart legislative sessions according to political party that took into account the heredity status of incumbent.

The Legislative Branch poses the greatest danger to a republic.

  • In a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.
  • Its constitutional powers being at once more extensive, and less susceptible of precise limits, it can, with the greater facility, mask, under complicated and indirect measures, the encroachments which it makes on the co-ordinate departments.
  • “It is not unfrequently a question of real nicety in legislative bodies, whether the operation of a particular measure will, or will not, extend beyond the legislative sphere.”
  • Because the legislature controls the spending, they gain hereditary support from those who receive the jobs “as the legislative department alone has access to the pockets of the people, and has in some constitutions full discretion, and in all a prevailing influence, over the pecuniary rewards of those who fill the other departments, a dependence is thus created in the latter, which gives still greater facility to encroachments of the former.”
    • Application: Public Sector Unions are nothing more than a money laundering scheme for the Democratic Party in that campaign contributions are then restored by the legislator through work/contracts/agreements/pensions available from past/present/future legislation with all money provided by the tax payer. This should be regarded as taxation without representation as the role of elected representative of the people at large is void due to remuneration through legislative actions for a small faction of those he was elected to represent. The elected official is defrauding his constituents of their wealth in order to maximize his own personal passions.
      • Public Worker’s Union
      • Teacher’s Unions
      • Gov’t Employees Union –
      • National Active and Retired Federal Employees – narfe.org
      • American Federation of Gov’t Employees nffe.org
      • National Treasury Employees Union – nteu.org
      • National Federation of Federal Employees nffe.org
      • American Federation of Teachers aft.org
      • American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees AFSCME.org
      • American Postal Workers Union
      • International Assn of Fire Fighters
      • National Assn of Letter Carriers
      • National Assn of Postal Supervisors
      • National Assn of Postmasters
      • National Education Assn
      • National League of Postmasters
      • National Rural Letter Carriers Assn
      • and just in time, the Office of Management and Budget is ready to go union.
      • And so on and on….
    • from the overgrown and all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate, supported and fortified by an hereditary branch of the legislative authority. They seem never to have recollected the danger from legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power in the same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive usurpations.



Notes on the State of Virginia,” p. 195. “All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands, is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation, that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it, turn their eyes on the republic of Venice. As little will it avail us, that they are chosen by ourselves. An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others. For this reason, that convention which passed the ordinance of government, laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time. BUT NO BARRIER WAS PROVIDED BETWEEN THESE SEVERAL POWERS. The judiciary and the executive members were left dependent on the legislative for their subsistence in office, and some of them for their continuance in it. If, therefore, the legislature assumes executive and judiciary powers, no opposition is likely to be made; nor, if made, can be effectual; because in that case they may put their proceedings into the form of acts of Assembly, which will render them obligatory on the other branches. They have accordingly, IN MANY instances, DECIDED RIGHTS which should have been left to JUDICIARY CONTROVERSY, and THE DIRECTION OF THE EXECUTIVE, DURING THE WHOLE TIME OF THEIR SESSION, IS BECOMING HABITUAL AND FAMILIAR.


Council of Censors – 1783 & 1784 – as to inquire whether the constitution had been preserved…or exercised, other or greater powers than the  are entitled to by the constitution.

…it appears that the constitution had been flagrantly violated by the legislature in a variety of important instances.


  • Because what is the source of our problem is the very nature of man itself, simple words written of paper are useless.
  • An understanding of human nature is required of all citizens as the best means of defense against it.

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