King Numbers

You may have heard me advocate abolition of the US judiciary, as a way to restore some of the tension between Federal and State authorities that Publius considered so important.

Failing that, I’ve also proposed to eliminate the “jackpot” effect by allowing each President to nominate a fixed number of Supreme Court Justices per term, irrespective of vacancies. It turns out that one appointment per Congress would be about right: the present Congress is the 109th, and 110 persons so far have sat on that bench. (Followup)

3 thoughts on “King Numbers”

  1. Hi, I’m reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and I came across the term “King Numbers.” I’m not exactly sure what the term refers to; however, I realize it has something to do with the legislative majority. I’ve attempted to find some background information, but – to date – I have not come up with anything. I see your blog titled King Numbers, which relates to what I knew already. Do you have any further insight??

    1. I don’t recall where I picked it up – nor why I used it for this post!

      The point of the phrase, as you’ve inferred, is that it does little good to take away arbitrary power from kings only to vest it in pluralities.

  2. I came across your site whilst I was trying to find the originator of the phrase who was, I believe, one of the American Founding Fathers.
    He was warning against a “too democratical” constitution which, he said, would mean
    “We have but exchanged King George for King Numbers”.

    In my partial memory, I somehow believe the phrase may have been used in debates over the constitution of Virginia rather than the US as such but I have clean forgotten the man’s name.

    The separation of powers and the allocation of two senators per state, regardless of population, go some way towards moderating the power of “King Numbers”.

    In Britain we have been wholly at the mercy of King Numbers since the 1911 Parliament Act removed the power of the House of Lords to block government legislation. Whilst this was done in the name of extending the power of “the people” represented in the House of Commons, the effect has been to transfer nearly all the Crown Prerogative powers to the pocket of the prime minister of the day and, in combination with the modern party system, to reduce the power of the Commons over the executive.

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