Alexis de Tocqueville on American courts

“An American judge … cannot compel the people to make laws, but at least he can constrain them to be faithful to their own laws and remain in harmony with themselves.”

“I am aware of a hidden tendency in the United States leading the people to diminish judicial power; under most of the state constitutions the government can, at the request of both houses, remove a judge from office. Under some constitutions the judges are elected and subject to frequent reelection. I venture to predict that sooner or later these innovations will have dire results and that one day it will be seen that by diminishing the magistrates’ independence, not judicial power only but the democratic republic itself has been attacked.”

“I do not know whether a jury is good for litigants, but I am sure it is very good for those who have to decide the case. I regard it as one of the most effective means of popular education at society’s disposal.”

— Selected from Democracy in America (13th ed. 1850)

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