If men were angels,” James Madison wrote, “no governmentnwould be neeessary.” Or, “if angels were to governnmen, no controls on government would be necessary.” Madisonnbelieved that men are about as good as they can ever be,nand since no angels are available to rule, we need checks andnbalances.nThomas Jefferson added the idea that “man cannot be trustednwith the government of himself. Can he, then, be trustednwith the government of others? Or have we found angels in thenforms of kings to govern him?” The Supreme Court claims thenultimate say in the American legal system through the doctrinenof judicial review, which allows the Court to nullify any state ornfederal law it considers inconsistent with the Constitution.nJefferson believed judicial review to be a dangerous assumptionnof power by the Court that “would place us under the despotismnof an oligarchy.” To Jefferson, rule by a Supreme Court isnno better than rule by an English King. Maybe worse, since nobodyneven suggests that the Court rules by divine guidance.nFor this reason and others, Jefferson and the Founders insistednon a written constitution. Tliey believed this was the onlynsafe way to institutionalize majority rule and to protect the people’snliijerties. The English constitution was unwritten, andnWilliam J. Quirk and R. Randall Bridwell are professors at thenUniversity of South Carolina School of Law. This article isnextracted from their forthcoming book Angels to Govern Us.n12/CHRONICLESnVIEWSnAngels to Govern Usnby William J. Quirk and R. Randall BridwellnnnAmericans thought they suffered greatly under it. Their overridingnfear was of a despotic central government—like thenCrown and the Crown’s judges. They thought the written constitution,nby cleariy allocating power and rights, would preventnthat.nBut a written constitution works the way the Founders wantednonly if there is no judicial review. If there is judicial reviewnthe situation reverses and the people are worse off than theynwould be without a constitution. Supreme Court Justices, whonobey no charter, have to justify their actions to a higher authority.nIf their government is a democracy—like modern-day England—theynmust .base each ruling on the statutes of Pariiament.nIf the nation is not a democracy—like feudal England—thenjudge still must act on behalf of ruling authority—the reigningnking or queen. In either case, the judge’s power could be correctednor reversed. Of course, it is possible to have a constitutionnwhere the judges themselves rule without being subject tonany higher authority. This would be a form of absolutism, likenan absolute monarchy with more than one ruler, or like the ancientnJudges of Israel. In America, under judicial review, thenSupreme Court contends that the country’s founding documentnauthorizes it to be the final interpreter of the meaning ofnthat document. The Court says it is acting on behalf of a highernauthority, the Constitution, but as a practical matter it is notnsubject to correction or reversal.nWhen judges assume a role as the final interpreters of then