Federalist #51 proves to one of the most significant papers amongst all the Federalist papers. This paper talks of the principle of republicanism which in-depth covers the principle of divided powers and their establishment and maintenance in the American constitution. This paper gives a description of how the constitutional systems do prevent the division of governmental powers into separate institutions. It also explains why it is difficult to gradually bring these governmental powers into the hands of an institution or an individual.From the federalist#51, there exist two features of the Constitution's plan which guarantee separation of powers and the maintenance of this separation i.e. elections and the powers bestowed by the institutions over the other. In this paper, attributes go to ambitions. The argument is that basically when leaders are given power, they will always need to an expansion of the powers. In a well built amalgamation, this attribute can be the engine behind each institution’s prosperity to authority.
Through this, we are able to analyze the two aspects of the constitutional system i.e. electoral system and the checks-and-balances system.
James, Madison says that the desire of democracy is that each department should have its own will and thus its members should not be subjects of other department’s appointment. The members of a department should be from the authority of the department. However, this is not applicable to the judicial department since the judges are always chosen based on their credentials and are hired on permanent basis. This implies that for them to be chosen well there must be the mode that does selection of the best amongst the candidates. Due to the fact that these judges are employed on permanent terms, their dependence on the appointing authority diminishes. It can also be evident from this that since judiciary is independent; the numerations for the judicial and executive employees should not be subjected to legislation. If it happens so, then, the independence of the departments will just be in nominal and not actual.
Also in this paper are the ambitions of men and human nature in the governmental departments in relations to the means which the constitution offers as the utmost protective measure against loss of powers in specific areas. Basically, men must firmly defend their powers guaranteed by the constitution and should be ready to counter ambition with ambition. However, the interests of people should be within the protected by the constitutional rights since government is an administration of men and for men. However, if men could be angels then no governments would be in place to ensure internal controls. So, for the government to effectively operate, men people should ensure that they are can be governed.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to distribute power equally to each departmentally especially in self defense. Legislative authority should act as the overruling verdict in the eye of the public. It is therefore split into separate branches with differentiated election means as well as responsibilities. This is done distinctively to clearly show the independence and dependence of the branches and the people in these branches. Moreover, the executive branch is energized by their veto which however is not absolute i.e. it can be superseded by laws passed by the legislature. In his observation, Madison therefore says that should the federal government fail to observe the power separation principles fully, the state governments will also fail in doing that since they are controlled by the federal government.
Another important aspect of this paper is about how a state defends the rights of her people and minority groups. Though people do give in their supremacy to the government, they should be assured a double security on their rights due to the existence of the federal government.
It is one great idea for a country to guard a minor group in the society from the force of the majority who might be united with a common concern. In a country where the people are considerate, the society should show signs of division depending on classes and interests of her citizens. In such societies, the rights of the minority will not be a real issue since such people will be falling in very many different groups. The minority will be cutting across the majority groups. Thus, their rights will not be threatened as compared to where there is a clear division. This principle applies also to religious rights and civil rights as well. With increased number of sects in a country or interest amongst people, there will be no majority group dominating. However, this may not go well with the some confederacies against the large ones in the United States due to their sizes. In us therefore, a majority group will unite in fighting for a common cause especially when justice is at stake hence less factions. This will automatically refute the calls for the society to fight in support of the minority groups in the society.
James Madison elaborates and advocates for a controlled system of governance where there are checks and balances in the constitution. The branches of the government are framed in a manner that each branch checks the power of the other two branches. In addition to this all the three branches of the government depends on the people who are legitimate source of authority of each branch.
James Madison, The Federalist Papers No 51: February 6, 1788