January 26, 1935

“Old Bill” Suggests—

“The theory of all legislation is founded in justice; and, if we could be certain that all legislative assemblies would on all occasions act according to the principles of justice, there would be no occasion for those checks and guards which we have seen established under the best systems.

“Unfortunately, however, we have seen that legisltative assemblies are swayed by the fears and passions of individuals; when unchecked they are tyrannical and unjust; nay more: it unfortunately happens too frequently that the most tyrannical and unjust measures are the most popular. . . . I tremble for a country in whch, as in Spain, there is no barrier for the preservation of private property excepting the justice of a legislative assembly possessing supreme powers.”

That was written in 1813 by Wellington, practical soldier and admininstrator, who was in command of a field army, fighting to drive the French out of Spain. Himself experienced in successful constitutional government, having given up a seat in parliament to take the field, he had no reason for his advice except to save his Spanish allies from upsetting their own apple cart. They needed a supreme court.

It is bad business to entrust any branch of goverment with more power than could safely be administrered by the worst man who is likely, in ordinary course, to be elected or appointed to the post in question.

(Old Bill).

This entry was posted in “Old Bill” Suggests. Bookmark the permalink.