Study Guide

The Judiciary of the Articles of Confederation

The Judiciary of the Articles of Confederation

  • Lack of judiciary in Articles of Confederation became a problem because no one could settle disputes between states
  • Constitution created in 1787 to strengthen government; included establishment of national judiciary

In practice, the Confederation government, which took effect in March 1781, left much to be desired. It failed to unify the various regions of the county, stabilize the economy, or coordinate policy among the different states. Furthermore, the national government had no means by which to enforce United States laws; each state could—and did—interpret federal statues as it pleased and chose when—or even if—to administer them. Often, this led to disputes between states, which were difficult, if not impossible, to settle since each state relied on the ruling of its own courts, usually dismissing the others. As the Founding Fathers began to see, the Confederation's system of law wasn't much of a system at all. For it to function effectively, it needed to be—gasp!—larger, and it needed to have—yikes!—greater authority.

"Is it possible," Alexander Hamilton pondered in a 1788 essay in The Federalist, "that the people of America will longer consent to trust their honour, their happiness, their safety, on so precarious a foundation?"blank">United States Constitution—to make some sweeping changes.