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Fire on the Floor: The Rules, Conflict, and Debate that Fuel the United States Congress

Today’s Essay

Happy Birthday, James Madison! March 16, 1751 - Federalist Papers 51 & 53 - How The American People Hold Congress Accountable – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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Madison examines various suggested mechanisms by which government might be constrained and liberty preserved. Drawing on the Americans’ experience with the British government as well as their own state governments, he rejects all as insufficient. Thus, formal declarations in state constitutions of the legislative power being vested in the legislature, the executive in a chief officer, and the judicial in the courts, are “a mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits of the several departments” and would not suffice to prevent dangerous concentration of power.

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