James Madison Papers

Method of Choosing the Judiciary, [13 June] 1787

Method of Choosing the Judiciary

[13 June 1787]

Charles Pinckney and Sherman moved that the judges of the supreme tribunal be appointed by the national legislature.

Mr. Madison objected to an appt. by the whole Legislature. Many of them were incompetent Judges of the requisite qualifications. They were too much influenced by their partialities. The canditate [sic] who was present, who had displayed a talent for business in the legislative field, who had perhaps assisted ignorant members in business of their own, or of their Constituents, or used other winning means, would without any of the essential qualifications for an expositor of the laws prevail over a competitor not having these recommendations, but possessed of every necessary accomplishment. He proposed that the appointment should be made by the Senate, which as a less numerous & more select body, would be more competent judges, and which was sufficiently numerous to justify such a confidence in them.1

Ms (DLC).

1Yates’s version:

“Mr. Madison is of opinion that the second branch of the legislature ought to appoint the judiciary, which the convention agreed to” (Farrand, Records description begins Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (4 vols.; New Haven, 1911–37). description ends , I, 238).

Lansing’s version:

“Madison moves second Branch to appoint” (Strayer, Delegate from N.Y. description begins Joseph R. Strayer, ed., The Delegate from New York or Proceedings of the Federal Convention … from the Notes of John Lansing, Jr. (Princeton, 1939). description ends , p. 51).

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