The Public Interest

Review Essay: Locke and the Legislative Principle

Walter Berns

Summer 1990

WHAT IS THE ROLE of Congress in our system of constitutional government and how well does it perform that role? To begin with, Congress is not Parliament, which means that ours is a system of constitutional--not parliamentary-supremacy. Accordingly, we speak of three coordinate branches of government, each deriving its powers from the Constitution (and each capable of violating it). Still, it is not unreasonable to look upon the legislative as the first among equals. After all, the first article of the Constitution deals with the legislative power, and that is not the result of chance: we pride ourselves on being a government of laws, and Congress makes the laws.

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