1. Consider what James Madison wrote in Federalist #10: “Extend the sphere [of the country] and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens.” Explain what this means. How well does the interest group system today represent the diversity of public opinion? In other words, does the system have some bias in it? Does that bias, if it exists, support or undermine Madison’s argument?
2. The nature of congressional representation was a key division in both the Philadelphia Convention and between Federalists and Anti-Federalists in the ratification debates. What did Madison mean when he wrote in Federalist 52 that “it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people.” How does the design of Congress fulfill this goal? One important change in the Twentieth Century was the rise of careerism in Congress. What strategies do Members of Congress use to make a career in Congress a reality? Does careerism in Congress complicate Madison’s vision of the institution; in other words, should we alter how Members of Congress are elected?
3. What did President William Howard Taft mean when he wrote that “the President can exercise no power which cannot be fairly reasonably traced to some specific grant of power or justly implied and included within such express grant as proper and necessary to its exercise”? How does this compare with President Theodore Roosevelt’s argument? Compare their arguments. Which position comes closest to the experience of the modern presidency? (Please note that this is about the institution of the presidency in modern experience, not about an individual president). Which position do you prefer?
4. What did Alexander Hamilton mean when he wrote that “The judiciary … has no influence over either the sword or the purse … It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL but merely judgment” in Federalist #78? How does this answer the concerns voiced by the AntiFederalist Brutus? Considering the modern Supreme Court, is it still true today that it is the “least dangerous branch”? In your opinion, does the Court have too much power, too little, or just about right?