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The angst we have seen over the last several days about the next Supreme Court pick should tell us something: On the great issues of our time–the ones we probably care about the most–we are governed not by a constitutional republic, but rather an oligarchy made up of nine justices…just as Thomas Jefferson feared.

You seem to consider the judges the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges … and their power [are] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and are not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves… When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity. The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough. I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves.

Thomas Jefferson — Letter to Mr. Jarvis, September, 1820

This is Brian Myers with your very abbreviated Caffeinated Thought of the Week.

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