The Public Interest

Congress and the courts

Gary L. McDowell

Summer 1990

THE CONSTITUTION, as every schoolchild knows (or, at least, used to know), creates an elaborate scheme of separated powers and checks and balances. These “auxiliary precautions,” as James Madison called them, were prudently designed by the Framers to increase the likelihood that democratic government would also be good government. Arguably the best known of these checks and balances is the power of judicial review, the power of the courts to declare that laws and actions of the governments—local, state, and national—are beyond the constitutional pale.

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