James Madison And Henry Lee 's Respective Reports On The Virginia Resolutions

826 Words Oct 19th, 2015 4 Pages
James Madison and Henry Lee’s respective reports on the Virginia Resolutions embody two distinctive interpretations of the First Amendment. Lee defines the First Amendment as an extension of the Common Law inherited from Great Britain, while Madison argues that the First Amendment is designed to protect the right of the American people to check and balance the government of the United States. Madison’s Report on the Virginia Resolutions upholds the notion of popular sovereignty and the idea that Congress can not, in any shape or form, infringe upon the freedom of speech and the press. James Madison’s report emphasizes the fact that the United States, unlike Great Britain, is a self-governing democracy, and that this form of government entails the freedom of speech and the press, an idea that is also illustrated by the preamble of the Constitution. Madison proclaims that “The people, not the government, possess the absolute sovereignty…the great and essential rights of the people are secured against legislative as well as executive ambition.” In this statement, Madison espouses the idea that the authority of the government of the United States is sustained by the consent of those governed. This is, according to Madison, the basis of political power in the United States. Madison also stresses the fact that citizens of the United States have the right to check both the legislative and executive branches of government, unlike Great Britain, where the Magna Carta and the…

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