Article 3, Section 1

[Volume 4, Page 165]

Document 18

John Jay to John Adams

2 Jan. 1801Correspondence 4:285

Such was the temper of the times, that the Act to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States was in some respects more accommodated to certain prejudices and sensibilities, than to the great and obvious principles of sound policy. Expectations were nevertheless entertained that it would be amended as the public mind became more composed and better informed; but those expectations have not been realized, nor have we hitherto seen convincing indications of a disposition in Congress to realize them. On the contrary, the efforts repeatedly made to place the judicial department on a proper footing have proved fruitless.

I left the bench perfectly convinced that under a system so defective it would not obtain the energy, weight, and dignity which are essential to its affording due support to the national government, nor acquire the public confidence and respect which, as the last resort of the justice of the nation, it should possess. Hence I am induced to doubt both the propriety and the expediency of my returning to the bench under the present system; especially as it would give some countenance to the neglect and indifference with which the opinions and remonstrances of the judges on this important subject have been treated.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 3, Section 1, Document 18
The University of Chicago Press

The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay. Edited by Henry P. Johnston. 4 vols. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1890--93.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000