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Eakin v. Raub Summer Case #1 of ???

Eakin v. Raub

12 Sergeant & Rawle (Pennsylvania Supreme Court) 330 (1825)


The Facts of the case are said to be of little interest today, so without facts we have no issues in this case.


The Issues in this case are not important


The Minorities Decision in this case is written by Justice Gibson, the Justice starts by stating the following: “…I am aware, that a right to declare all unconstitutional acts void… is generally held as a professional dogma; but, I apprehend rather as a matter of faith than of reason.” He continues, “I admit that I once embraced the same doctrine, but without examination, and I shall therefore state the arguments that impelled me to abandon it, with great respect for those by whom it is still maintained….” “…The Constitution and the right of the legislature to pass the act may be in collision. But is that a legitimate subject for judicial determination? If it be, the judiciary must be a peculiar organ, to revise the proceedings of the legislature, and to correct its mistake; and in what part of the Constitution are we to look for this proud preeminence?” He continues: “But the judges are sworn to support the Constitution, and are they not bound by it as the law of the land? In some respects they are. In the very few cases in which the judiciary, and not the legislature, is the immediate organ to execute its provisions, they are bound by it in preference to any act of assembly to the contrary. Once let public opinion be so corrupt as to sanction every misconstruction of the Constitution and abuse of power which the temptation of the moment may dictate, and the party which may happen to be predominant, will laugh at the puny effort of a dependent power to arrest it in its course.” “For those reasons, I am of the opinion that t rests with the people, in whom full and absolute sovereign power resides to correct abuses in legislation, by instructing their representatives to repeal the obnoxious act. What is wanting to plenary power in the government, it is reserved by the people for their own immediate use; and to redress an infringement of their rights in this respect, would seem to be an accessory of the power thus reserved. It might, perhaps, have been to vest the power in the judiciary, as it might be expected that its habits of deliberation and the aid derived from arguments of counsel, would more frequently lead to accurate conclusions.  On the other hand, the judiciary is not infallible; and an error by it would admit of no remedy but a more distinct expression of the public will, through the extraordinary medium of a convention; whereas, an error by the legislature admits of a remedy by an exertion of the same will, in the ordinary exercise of the right of suffrage—a mode better calculated to attain the end, without popular excitement.” He concludes by stating: “It may be said, the people would probably not notice an error of their representatives. But they would as probably do so, as notice an error of the judiciary; and, beside, it is a postulate in the theory of our government, and the very basis of the superstructure, that the people are wise, virtuous, and competent to manage their own affairs; and if they are not so, in fact, still every question of this sort must be determined according to the principles of the Constitution, as it came from the hands of its framers, and the existence of a defect which was not foreseen, would not justify those who administer the government, in applying a corrective in practice, which can be provided only by a convention….”


The Significance of this opinion is meaningless due to the fact that this brief deals with the minority opinion. Since it is a minority opinion the case doesn’t pass any precedent or matter to most individuals.