This Historical Moment Brought To You By President Madison


James Madison

We have three branches of our government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. But according to history and an article in BUSINESS INSIDER, we almost had a fourth. Oh, and this one's a pip. Today the Republicans would be jumping all over it regarding Obamacare. But I get ahead of myself.

First the background. This story comes from Business Insider and is part of the commemoration of the upcoming  226th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution (Sept. 17th if you're curious). According to the article, Virginian, James Madison felt there was still a problem with the balance of power. He feared that the will of a majority-directed legislature would swamp the decision-making and oversight powers of the executive and judiciary.

Madison's solution? The Council of Revision.

The Council would comprise elements of the executive and judiciary, and would have the authority to, "examine every act of the National Legislature before it shall operate, & every act of a particular Legislature before a Negative thereon shall be final."

The dissenters to this proposed fourth arm felt that it would turn judges into lawmakers. Hmm. How interesting. 226 years later, some would say that's exactly what did happen.

A vote was taken to create this new branch but it was narrowly defeated, 4-3.

So, a council of revision. Boy, a chance for a do-over. Wouldn't that be grand. I bet today,with the current political climate, it would be used as often as the Republican filibuster. Nothing would get done.

Come to think of it, even without that forth branch, nothing seems to get done. And if you were thinking it could be a good idea, consider this. A council of revision was added to the French government in 1958.


France?! That alone should tell you it was not a good idea. If history tells us anything, the French could use another branch of their government but it would be called, nous nous rendons "We Surrender." For that and Bouillabaisse, the French are best known.