New York legislature passes bill allowing state to prosecute people pardoned by the President

That a state legislature is that mentally deranged about Trump that they’ll pass a law that is -><- this close to being a Bill of Attainder is frightening.
If the clear idiocy of it eludes them, what’s next on their agenda?

How does a state claim jurisdiction over someone that was pardoned for a federal crime, or over a pardoned person if they’re a resident of another state and have never even set foot in NY? I’d like to see the extradition proceedings for that.

That this will get slapped down as unconstitutional is almost assured. But, the problem is that that means someone will have been charged and prosecuted, because the appeals courts demand someone have ‘standing’.

New York is one signature away from allowing prosecutors to pursue state charges against presidential associates who have received federal pardons.

The Democratic-controlled state assembly on Tuesday passed a bill 90-52 allowing the state-level prosecution of people pardoned of federal crimes, provided that they worked for or were related to the president at the time of the pardon.

If signed, it could short-circuit President Donald Trump’s ability to shield his associates from prosecution, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years in prison on financial crimes stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign.

The bill, which passed the state Senate earlier this month, now heads to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Jason Cornwall, a spokesperson for Cuomo, told CNN Tuesday the governor supports the bill.

Cuomo has previously criticized Trump’s statements on his pardon power, saying in a statement last August, “President Trump has shown that he is willing if not eager to abuse his executive authority, including pardon power, to protect himself.”

The bill allows for the prosecution at the state level of any individual who was employed by or served in the executive branch, served in a position subject to Senate confirmation, or worked for a presidential campaign or transition team, regardless of whether they had been pardoned or granted clemency by the president under which they served. It would similarly allow prosecution of presidential relatives regardless of pardon.

New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican, criticized the bill.

“The job of the State Legislature is to develop measures that help New Yorkers. This bill does absolutely nothing to achieve that,” Kolb said in a statement. “The endless political grandstanding involved in targeting President Trump at a state level is a total waste of time, energy and taxpayer money.”

City agrees to stay on three gun-control bills while lawsuits play out in court

Pittsburgh’s three gun-control ordinances will not be enforced until the court deems them legal, according to an order issued by an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge Monday.

All parties agreed to the stay during a Monday morning meeting held in Judge Joseph James’ chambers between city lawyers and legal counsel representing opponents of the laws.

“That’s consistent with the city’s goal all along, which is to put this in front of the court, let the courts decide whether these ordinances are permissible under Pennsylvania law,” said Eric Tirschwell, an attorney with gun-control advocacy organization Everytown Law who is representing the city pro bono. “The city is not looking to prejudice anyone while those decisions are made.”

Everytown Law is the legislative arm of the national Everytown for Gun Safety organization.

This has always been the strategy, said Mayor Bill Peduto’s spokesman Tim McNulty. “The Mayor has said basically the same thing numerous times,” Mr. McNulty said.

The three gun ordinances, signed into law by Mr. Peduto in April, aim to ban the use of certain assault-style weapons and accessories as well as allow the courts to temporarily seize weapons from those threatening to harm themselves or others.

State and local gun-rights groups, as well as four local residents backed by the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, have filed three separate lawsuits against the city — including two actions to halt the laws and another petitioning to hold the city in contempt for violating Pennsylvania preemption laws on local regulation of firearms.

“We want to make sure the public is aware of the fact that these ordinances are stayed and that there’s not going to be any enforcement until Judge James has an opportunity to decide the matter,” said attorney Joshua Prince, who is representing state and local gun-rights organizations Firearms Owners Against Crime and Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League, which are plaintiffs in two lawsuits against the city.

The Green New Deal is a path to a more militarized and authoritarian society.

“Until you do it, I’m the boss,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the socialist congresswoman from the Bronx, responding to critics of her Green New Deal in February. Later that night, the freshman congresswoman doubled down on her comment, tweeting that people who “don’t like the #GreenNewDeal” should “come up with your own ambitious, on-scale proposal to address the global climate crisis. Until then, we’re in charge—and you’re just shouting from the cheap seats.”

Much has rightly been made of the Green New Deal’s fuzzy-headed utopianism and its impossible goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero in 10 years. But we should also pay close attention to the plan’s authoritarian impulses, particularly in light of its historical inspirations: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the command economy he established during the Second World War.

If proponents of the Green New Deal are serious—and there’s no reason to doubt them—then they’re proposing a return to a militaristic America where Uncle Sam’s heavy hand intervenes in all aspects of life, curtailing individual freedom in pursuit of their collectivist goals. And like the planners of the Roosevelt years, their intentions are clear and grandiose: They want the power to regiment a society of nearly 330 million people in pursuit of a pipe dream they liken to a war for survival…….

When she says “I’m the boss,” pay attention. She’s describing America under a Green New Deal: a place where you’ll do as you’re told.

AG Barr on FBI “Spygate” Explanations: “Inadequate” and “Don’t Hang Together”…

Fox News correspondent Bill Hemmer interviewed U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr in El Salvador during a visit to address the crisis on the U.S-Mexico border, MS-13, drug trafficking and human trafficking.

During the interview Bill Hemmer asked about AG Barr’s ongoing review of DOJ and FBI activity during the 2016 election.

BARR: “I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started.”

HEMMER: “What doesn’t hang together?”

BARR: “Some of the explanations of what occurred.”

HEMMER: “Why does that matter?”

BARR: “People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale.”

Trump Plans To Invoke Insurrection Act To Boot Illegal Immigrants.

Begin the countdown to proggie judges going ballistic!

President Donald Trump is planning on using the Insurrection Act to remove illegal immigrants from the United States, The Daily Caller has learned.

According to multiple senior administration officials, the president intends to invoke the “tremendous powers” of the act to remove illegal immigrants from the country.

“We’re doing the Insurrection Act,” one official said.

Under the Insurrection Act of 1807, the president has the authority to use the National Guard and military in order to combat “unlawful obstruction or rebellion” within U.S. borders. The act was last invoked in 1992 by George H.W. Bush to quell the Los Angeles riots, and was also used by Eisenhower in 1957 to enforce school desegregation in the south.

An official expressed concerns that Trump’s use of the act’s powers would face legal challenges, pointing to the lawsuits against the president’s travel ban from majority-Muslim countries. However, as the official noted, the travel ban ultimately prevailed in the Supreme Court.

In addition to the Insurrection Act, the president is also considering declaring the country full and insisting that the U.S. can no longer handle the massive influx of illegal immigrants. 2019 is currently on pace to reach the highest levels of illegal immigration in a decade.

“If you take a ship and it holds 1,000 people maximum — one more person and the ship is going to collapse,” the official explained. “The country is full.”

“Our hospitals are full, our detention centers are full,” they added.

ICE facilities were forced to release 100,000 illegal immigrants in the first three months of 2019 because of overcrowding in detention centers.

Separately, the president unveiled a new immigration plan Thursday that focuses on border security and merit-based legal immigration. The plan, which was co-authored by top aides Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller, would increase the proportion of visas granted to highly-skilled immigrants and also establish a self-sustaining border security fund.

Accused of ‘Terrorism’ for Putting Legal Materials Online.

Of all publications; This is in the NY Times.

WASHINGTON — Carl Malamud believes in open access to government records, and he has spent more than a decade putting them online. You might think states would welcome the help.

But when Mr. Malamud’s group posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotatedthe state sued for copyright infringement. Providing public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials, Georgia’s lawyers said, was part of a “strategy of terrorism.”

A federal appeals court ruled against the state, which has asked the Supreme Court to step in. On Friday, in an unusual move, Mr. Malamud’s group, Public.Resource.Orgalso urged the court to hear the dispute, saying that the question of who owns the law is an urgent one, as about 20 other states have claimed that parts of similar annotated codes are copyrighted.

The issue, the group said, is whether citizens can have access to “the raw materials of our democracy.”

Oregon Republicans and Democrats (surprise-surprise-surprise) Kill Sweeping Gun Control Bill

U.S.A. –-( Beaver State gun owners are breathing easier in the aftermath of a GOP legislative maneuver that saw state Senate Republicans return to the chamber floor this week to help pass a major education funding bill, because Democrats agreed to kill a sweeping gun control package in exchange, according to the Salem Statesman-Journal.

The newspaper said Republicans had staged a four-day walkout that ended “Monday after securing major Democratic concessions.” One of those concessions was stopping Senate Bill 978.

But the Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF), while congratulating state gun rights activists for their efforts, also cautioned against celebrating just yet.

“Anti-rights zealot Senator Ginny Burdick promised that gun grabbing bills would fail ‘over my dead body’ and the last time we checked Burdick was still with us,” OFF said in a prepared statement. “Rest assured she will be doing everything she can to revive and least some of the onerous elements of SB 978.”

In an email to AmmoLand News, OFF noted, “There are three other gun bills that are not dead…It’s not over till the last Prius leaves the building.” Those other bills are House Bill 2505, House Bill 3299 and House Bill 3329, OFF said.

Republicans had walked out a few days earlier, leaving Senate Democrats without the required number of votes. The Senate needs 20 votes present to take action. There are 18 Democrats in the Senate. When Republicans returned, the gun control bill, SB 978, immediately became a casualty of political warfare over constitutional rights versus anti-rights activism.

Under SB 978, Oregonians would have faced a variety of new regulations including safe storage, allowing gun dealers to raise the minimum age for purchasing firearms, accessories, and components, added prohibitions on where armed citizens could carry, mandatory theft or loss reporting within 72 hours, empowered the Oregon Health Authority to set minimum specifications for trigger and cable locks, and locked containers, and a raft of other requirements. The bill spanned 26 pages.

Gun control in New York: Here’s what Democrats plan to pass next

Hey! Lets make something more illegaler! (As in, our Fed congresscritters outlawed ‘undetectable’ guns way back in 1988 with the Undetectable Firearms Act .

ALBANY – Senate Democrats on Wednesday passed another gun-control bill after the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved sweeping changes in January.

The latest measure would ban undetectable guns, including 3D-printed guns, from being manufactured and sold in New York.

The bill, also likely to be approved by the state Assembly, comes after a series of gun-control laws passed earlier this year, including a ban on bump stocks and allowing New Yorkers to report people deemed dangerous from possessing guns.

Senate Democrats said the bill was initially scheduled to pass Tuesday, but it was approved 51-5 on Wednesday.

Minnesota committee sinks pair of gun control bills

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota committee on Tuesday, May 14, voted down a pair of gun control proposals, likely blocking their path forward this year.

The panel aiming to reconcile differences between House and Senate public safety and judiciary spending bills rejected each of the bills with Democrats supporting them and Republicans opposing them. The bills needed a majority vote among both the House and Senate sides of the committee to be added to the larger spending bill.

The first proposal would require background checks at the point of transfer of a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon. Exceptions would be made for firearm transfers to an immediate family member, transfers while hunting, at a shooting competition or at a gun range.
The second would allow law enforcement to remove a person’s firearms if they are believed to pose a danger to themselves or others.

Supporters, including law enforcement officers, said the proposals would help cut down on gun violence in Minnesota.

“I would say it would almost be grossly negligent not to take a step like this,” Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said, pointing to higher rates of gun deaths in states that rolled back laws requiring background checks to purchase firearms.

While the proposal didn’t pass, Democrats said they could again bring the measures up for consideration later.

Opponents, including gun rights advocates, said the measures could unfairly restrict Minnesotans’ right to bear arms.

“We’re treating folks as if they all have the potential of becoming criminals,” Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said. “It’s neighbors, it’s friends, it’s those people who are hunting together.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor leaders in the House, who hold a majority in that chamber, have said they’d fight to pass the bills this session. GOP leaders in the Senate, meanwhile, have said the measures wouldn’t have the support their to pass.

Trump continues to flip Manhattan federal courts conservative

President Trump may get the chance to turn the federal courts in Manhattan conservative.

Last week, he added two more judges to the 13-judge US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — making the balance seven liberals to six conservatives.

Soon, he will get to add two more.

Circuit Judges Christopher Droney and Dennis Jacobs have announced they would be retiring in June, thus allowing Trump — who has vowed to nominate only conservative judges — to add two more of his own picks to the court.

The Manhattan appeals court took the first step toward a conservative takeover this week, when the Senate confirmed Joseph Bianco and Michael Park as new members.

Bianco, a Queens native who was a federal judge in a lower court in Brooklyn, was confirmed 54-42 last week with some Democratic support.

Park — a lawyer who has supported the Trump administration effort to put citizenship questions on the Census — was confirmed last Thursday 52-41.

He got strong opposition from both New York senators, Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who called him an “extreme right-wing” pick.

Schumer also called him a “stooge” for the Federalist Society, a conservative legal network.

The federal appeals courts occupy a powerful role in the US judicial system — ranking just below the Supreme Court and reviewing tens of thousands of cases annually.

Bill Allowing Illegal Aliens to Work in Congress Approved by House Committee

Illegal aliens are now eligible for driver’s licenses in some states, and in March the House voted in favor of extending the vote to people who disregarded the law and entered the United States illegally. Now there’s another bill trying to give Illegal Aliens the same rights as legal Americans has advanced through the House Appropriations Committee by a party-line vote. The bill would lift a ban on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients from being able to apply for positions on the staffs of elected officials. 

U.S. law doesn’t “pick on’ dreamers or illegal immigrants per se.  It expressly bars most non-U.S. citizens from working for the feds.

Annual appropriations enactments prohibit the use of funds for the compensation of any federal government employee or officer in the continental United States unless that person is (1) a U.S. citizen, (2) an LPR [legal permanent resident] who is applying for naturalization, (3) a person admitted as a refugee or granted asylum who has filed a declaration of intent to become an LPR and eventually a U.S. citizen, or (4) a non-citizen, U.S. national who owes allegiance to the United States (e.g., a person born in American Samoa)………..

In April Kamala Harris introduced a similar bill in the Senate:

 “The giant sign outside my office says ‘DREAMers Welcome Here’ because we know and value the contributions that these young people have made to their communities,” Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a news release. “But right now, those same young people are banned from giving back to their country by working for Congress. That has to change. Government works best when it reflects the people it represents. Our nation’s DREAMers are some of our best and brightest, and it’s time they had the opportunity to get a job or paid internship on Capitol Hill.”

Idaho Repeals Its Regulatory Code

Something rather remarkable just happened in Idaho. The state legislature opted to—in essence—repeal the entire state regulatory code. The cause may have been dysfunction across legislative chambers, but the result is serendipitous. A new governor is presented with an unprecedented opportunity to repeal an outdated and burdensome regulatory code and replace it with a more streamlined and sensible set of rules. Other states should be paying close attention.

The situation came about due to the somewhat unconventional nature of Idaho’s regulatory process. Each year, the state’s entire existing body of regulations expires unless reauthorized for an additional year by the legislature. In most years, reauthorization happens smoothly, but not this year.

Instead, the legislature wrapped up an acrimonious session in April without passing a rule-reauthorization bill. As a result, come July 1, some 8,200 pages of regulations containing 736 chapters of state rules will expire. Any rules the governor opts to keep will have to be implemented as emergency regulations, and the legislature will consider them anew when it returns next January.

Washington’s Dirty Little Secret: No One Is Running the Show.

One of the hardest lessons for young, idealistic, and educated people to learn when they come to Washington — and some never learn it — is that nobody is running things. Sure, they know how to hold a press conference or write a law or conduct a study. But no person or group of people has the power to impose their will on society. There are just too many chefs making the soup.

After Barack Obama got his stimulus passed on the promise that there were millions of “shovel-ready jobs,” the stimulation never quite materialized as planned, and the shovels tended to stay in the shed. Obama later insisted that the theory behind the stimulus was right, but “the problem is that spending it out takes a long time, because there’s really nothing — there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”

Gun Confiscation Dies in the Texas House

Texas ‘Red Flag’ law is done for, for now. And the Texas legislature only convenes every two years.

Despite fears of a backdoor gun confiscation bill being snuck in at the last minute, Texas gun confiscation bill HB 545 is officially dead.

Lone Star Gun Rights reports that “HB 545 has been defeated.”

McNutt shared his thoughts with BLP:

Speaker Bonnen allowed gun control to come to the house floor for a vote while Constitutional Carry languished in committee. But thanks to the quick action and phone calls of our members, we forced Poncho Nevarez to withdraw his bill from consideration by the Texas House, thus killing his own bill.

Had it passed, HB 545 would have hurt gun rights in Texas considerably, which is constitutionally protected both at the state and federal level.


The Trump administration is searching for an appropriate case in which to ask the Supreme Court to end nationwide injunctions, Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday in Washington at a Federalist Society conference.

Nationwide injunctions, in which federal trial judges bar the federal government from enforcing a law or carrying out a policy across the entire country, have beset President Donald Trump since he took office. District courts have blocked administration policy priorities on immigration, national security and health care.

“The Supreme Court of the United States must clarify that district judges can decide no more than the cases before them — and it’s imperative that we restore the historic tradition that district judges do not set policy for the whole nation,” Pence told the conservative lawyers group.

“In the days ahead, our administration will seek opportunities to put this question before the Supreme Court — to ensure that decisions affecting every American are made either by those elected to represent the American people or by the highest court in the land,” Pence added.

Attorney General William Barr is involved in the effort, a source with knowledge of the process told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The solicitor general, who represents the U.S. government before the justices, answers to Barr.

2019 Indiana Gun Law Reform Bill Eliminates Fees, More

U.S.A. -( The Indiana legislature has passed, and Governor Eric Holcomb signed  HB 1284. The bill reforms several areas of Indiana gun law.

HB 1284 passed the House, 80-13 on 11 February, 2019. It passed the Senate, 47-7 on 8 April, 2019. HB 1284 was signed by Governor Holcolmb on 26 April, 2019.

Voter registration forms will now be available with applications for carry permits, by designating the Indiana State Police, Sheriff’s offices, and municipal law enforcement agency offices, as voter registration offices.

The legislation creates immunity from civil action when justifiable self defense or defense of others is successfully raised. Those who were justified in self defense are immune from civil suit by a person or person’s estate if  who was attempting to commit a forcible felony or was attempting to cause, or causing, unlawful serious bodily injury to another person at the time the justified use of force occurred.

The legislation requires a court to award, in certain instances, reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to the defendant, when the justifiable force defense is raised and is successful.

The legislation increases the  term of handgun and carry licenses from four to five years. Five years is becoming the de facto national standard.

The legislation eliminates the  fee for a five year license, as of 30 June, 2020. The current fee is $40.  The application fee for a lifetime license will be reduced from $175 to $125, or $100, if the applicant has a valid Indiana handgun license. Licenses restricted to target shooting or hunting have also had their fees reduced.  It appears the current $9.99 fee for fingerprinting may be eliminated. The new law states:

(c) This subsection applies after June 30, 2020.The law enforcement agency which accepts an application for a handgun license shall not collect a fee from a person applying for a five (5) year handgun license and shall collect the following application fees:

There does not appear to be any mention of fingerprint fees. Shall not collect a fee is strong legal language.

HB 1284 also requires that when an application for a carry permit is made to a law enforcement officer, the officer must check local state and federal criminal history data banks.  Those data banks include the National Instant background Check System run by the FBI.

The Indiana lifetime permit seems a real bargain, eliminating the problems with continually having to re-apply to be able to exercise Second Amendment rights will be worth paying a one time fee of $125 or $100 to many people.

HB 1284 also reforms the law to remove the restriction on the legal carry of firearms to houses of worship that are located on school property, if the persons carrying the firearm are attending the worship services, carrying out official duties, or employed or a volunteer at the house of worship.

The push for Constitutional Carry appears to have died with the end of the current legislative session. The removal of the requirement to pay a fee to exercise Second Amendment rights is a incremental move toward Constitutional Carry.

The 16 states that have generally restored Constitutional Carry do not require a permission slip from the government to carry a handgun in public areas, either openly or concealed.

At the time of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the States did not require permits for the carry of weapons, either openly, or concealed.

PA Rep Moves To Impeach Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto Over Illegal Gun Ban

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s momma never taught him that two wrongs don’t make a right. After the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, Peduto, the rabidly anti-gun Steel City mayor, flouted Pennsylvania’s state law prohibiting local regulation of guns. Instead of following the rule of law, he defiantly ignored it. And now he’s looking at possible impeachment for his stunt.

Peduto proudly signed a bill to ban guns and standard capacity magazines within Pittsburgh city limits, even though Pennsylvania state law expressly prohibited that sort of local lawmaking. Not only that, Peduto’s bill also includes confiscation a red flag provision – again, in violation of the Keystone State’s preemption law.

From the Pennsylvania Capital-Star:

On the same day that hundreds of gun-rights supporters rallied in the state Capitol, a firebrand member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives said he would begin impeachment proceedings against Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto over the city’s new gun control ordinances.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who’s circulating the impeachment resolution, told the Capital-Star Monday that Peduto “brazenly” violated the state Constitution when he signed the bills, which include restrictions on the use of assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. Peduto also signed into law a measure that allows authorities to temporarily seize firearms from a person deemed at risk of harming himself or others.

Under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, municipalities are prevented from regulating “the transfer, ownership, transportation, or possession of firearms.”

The New Face of Tyranny
If there is one thing that human beings cannot resist, it is the temptation to busy themselves with the lives of others.

When the First World War ended, there was a brief period when it seemed as if the world really had become safe for democracy—when it seemed as if history had come to an end and liberal democracy had achieved a lasting hegemony. The same thing happened again just over 70 years later when the Berlin Wall came down, Eastern Europe liberated itself, the Soviet Union fell apart, and the Cold War came to an end.

On neither occasion, however, were the heady hopes of the victors borne out. In both cases tyranny gradually re-emerged, and disappointment dogged those who had imagined that the dream articulated by Immanuel Kant in his “Essay on Perpetual Peace” would be fulfilled.

None of this should come as a surprise. Tyranny in one form or another has been the norm throughout human history, and it is not apt to disappear. As Montesquieu observed 270 years ago in his Spirit of the Laws, its avoidance requires artifice. “To form a moderate government,” he tells us, “it is necessary to combine powers, to regulate them, to temper them, to make them act, to give, so to speak, a ballast to one in order to put it in a condition to resist another; this is a masterpiece of legislation, which chance rarely produces & prudence is rarely allowed to produce.” Though it constitutes an assault on human nature, he adds, despotism is, in a sense, natural. It “jumps up, so speak, before our eyes; it is uniform throughout: as the passions alone are necessary for its establishment, the whole world is good enough for that.”

If we are to understand our present predicament, we will have to take into account just how fragile liberal democratic regimes are and the preconditions for their survival. In this regard, as Montesquieu insisted, size matters. As he noticed, the first republics known to man relied on civic virtue; and, to sustain themselves, they had to be small enough for shame to be a formidable force. In antiquity, as he also pointed out, all of the polities situated on an extended territory were despotisms—where fear was brought in as a substitute for shame as a source of political and social discipline.

In a large republic, Montesquieu observed, “interests become particular; a man senses then that he can be happy, great, glorious without his fatherland; & soon that he can be great solely on the ruins of his fatherland.” One consequence of such a republic’s size is that “the common good is sacrificed to a thousand considerations; it is subordinated to the exceptions; it depends on accidents.” The situation “in a small” republic is more favorable: There, “the public good is more fully felt, better known, closer to each citizen; the abuses are less extensive there & as a consequence less well protected.”

By way of contrast, Montesquieu added, “A large empire presupposes a despotic authority in the one who governs.” One cannot deny that “promptness in decision-making is required to compensate for the distance of the places to which orders are sent”; that “fear is required to prevent negligence on the part of the governor or magistrate operating at a great distance”; that, in such circumstances, “law must be lodged in a single head” and that “it must change unceasingly,” for “accidents” really do “multiply in a state in proportion to its magnitude.” This, he did not have to say, was the experience of Rome. That polity’s expansion was fatal to its republican character.

It was Montesquieu’s analysis that occasioned the great debate between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists in the United States in 1787 and 1788. As everyone understood at the time, the fledgling polity was far too large to qualify as a small republic. Federalism was the remedy suggested by Montesquieu. A loose confederation of republics could command sufficient resources to provide for the common defense while its member republics remained small enough to maintain free institutions. Unfortunately, however, most of the states composing the nascent American union were themselves too large to be considered small republics; and, under the constitution proposed by the Federal Convention, the national government had much greater scope than the confederations Montesquieu had in mind.

To meet the challenge posed by Montesquieu’s analysis of the lessons to be learned from the history of republics, James Madison and his colleagues looked to the French philosophe’s analysis of a third form of government—the species of law-bound monarchy, limited in scope, that emerged in medieval Europe—and to his discussion of the form of government that subsequently developed out of this in England as its monarchy evolved. These two species of government had upheld constitutionalism and the rule of law in polities situated on territories of intermediate size; and the latter of the two—equipped, as it was, with a House of Commons capable of imposing its will on the monarch—was quasi-republican in character.

In framing the proposed constitution, the delegates at the convention had combined two institutions that Montesquieu had praised—federalism and the separation of powers perfected by the English—and Madison even argued, counter-intuitively, that the multiplication of special interests attendant on the size of the fledgling nation could be put to good use. It would, he suspected, turn out to be an obstacle to the formation of a majority faction, and it would thereby encourage within the new republic’s legislature a spirit of accommodation and compromise conducive to the pursuit of justice and the common good.

In the 1790s, however, quite soon after the American republic was established, some of those quite deeply involved in the Founding came to have misgivings. It was in response to the legislative program proposed by George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton that James Madison began thinking about the prospect his compatriots would eventually face—“a consolidation of the States into one government”—and the consequences that might follow from such an eventuality.

First, he argued, the “incompetency of one Legislature to regulate all the various objects belonging to the local governments, would evidently force a transfer of many of” those objects “to the executive department.”

Then, he contended that, if the state and local governments were made subject to the Federal government, the sheer size of the country “would prevent that control” on the Federal Congress, “which is essential to a faithful discharge of its trust, [since] neither the voice nor the sense of ten or twenty millions of people, spread through so many latitudes as are comprehended within the United States, could ever be combined or called into effect, if deprived of those local organs, through which both can now be conveyed.”

In such circumstances, Madison warned, “the impossibility of acting together, might be succeeded by the inefficacy of partial expressions of the public mind, and this at length, by a universal silence and insensibility, leaving the whole government to that self directed course, which, it must be owned, is the natural propensity of every government.”

In short, Madison revisited Montesquieu’s argument concerning republics and the extent of territory suitable to them. And, at a time when the territory was much smaller than it is now, and the population was not even one-fifteenth of what it is now, he began to worry that the extent of territory encompassed by the United States and the size of its population might be too great. He was, moreover, virtually certain that, if the Federal government were allowed to encroach on the prerogatives of the states and the localities, as he believed Hamilton intended, despotism of one sort or another would be the result.