Random Quote #83 topic: bierce-devil, The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

EXECUTIVE, n. An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to
enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the
judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of
no effect. Following is an extract from an old book entitled, _The
Lunarian Astonished_ -- Pfeiffer & Co., Boston, 1803:

LUNARIAN: Then when your Congress has passed a law it goes
directly to the Supreme Court in order that it may at once be
known whether it is constitutional?
TERRESTRIAN: O no; it does not require the approval of the
Supreme Court until having perhaps been enforced for many
years somebody objects to its operation against himself -- I
mean his client. The President, if he approves it, begins to
execute it at once.
LUNARIAN: Ah, the executive power is a part of the legislative.
Do your policemen also have to approve the local ordinances
that they enforce?
TERRESTRIAN: Not yet -- at least not in their character of
constables. Generally speaking, though, all laws require the
approval of those whom they are intended to restrain.
LUNARIAN: I see. The death warrant is not valid until signed by
the murderer.
TERRESTRIAN: My friend, you put it too strongly; we are not so
LUNARIAN: But this system of maintaining an expensive judicial
machinery to pass upon the validity of laws only after they
have long been executed, and then only when brought before the
court by some private person -- does it not cause great
LUNARIAN: Why then should not your laws, previously to being
executed, be validated, not by the signature of your
President, but by that of the Chief Justice of the Supreme
TERRESTRIAN: There is no precedent for any such course.
LUNARIAN: Precedent. What is that?
TERRESTRIAN: It has been defined by five hundred lawyers in three
volumes each. So how can any one know?


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