Dr. Gordon Lloyd: “The Least Dangerous Branch?” | Constitution Day at the Reagan



By Michael Hernandez

Dr. Gordon Lloyd

SIMI VALLEY—“Some say America is failing.  I say:  No way.  No way.  I am an optimist,” said Dr. Gordon Lloyd in his “The Least Dangerous Branch?” lecture given at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library honoring Constitution Day—the 231st anniversary of the creation of our nation’s founding principles as Constitutional Convention delegates signed the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Monday, Sept. 17, 1787.

Lloyd selected and introduced 26 documents in “The Constitution Convention Core Documents” (2018)—the second of a four volume set given free to attendees. The already released first volume in the set is “The American Founding” released by Ashbrook Press.

Some attendees might say that Lloyd’s topic was taken from the title of a classic book written by law professor Alexander Mordecai Bickel (1962) that traces the history of the Supreme Court, assessing the merits of various decisions along the way.

However, according to Lloyd, the title of “The Least Dangerous Branch?” was given to the Supreme Court by Alexander Hamilton, one of the framers of the U.S. Constitution and a writer of The Federalist (#78).  According to Hamilton, the power which distinguishes the U.S. Supreme Court is the review of actions of the other branches of government, federal and state—making the court the most extraordinary powerful court of law in the world.

Christian Monitor writer Matthew Dickinson (June 29, 2015) states: “the Supreme Court will rarely allow itself to get out in front or fall very much behind, prevailing public opinion.”

Arguing in the same vein as Hamilton, Lloyd claimed the most dangerous branch of government was not the judicial branch but the legislative branch (which controls the purse) and the executive branch (which controls the sword).   “Danger comes from the sword or from the purse” while the judicial branch governs by precedent so they tend to “be slow and careful.”  Lloyd continued:  “We need to make Congress great again—the members of Congress, they don’t understand role of Congress—that is a shame.  Others would say:  ‘the executive branch is the most dangerous.’”

According to Lloyd, our constitutional republic is facing challenges due to the “nature and quality or character of the people” as well as the difficulty of representation in a nation of 300 plus million citizens.   “We have one representative for every 600,000 citizens and half of those don’t register to vote, and only half of the registered, vote.”

“We need civic education and civic participation.  This requires the people being properly educated.  We do not have a democracy.  The  Greek translation for democracy means ‘rule the many who are poor and stupid.’  What we need are filtering systems.  

“We can keep the Republic, if we avoid instant gratification, instant decision making.  Members of Congress must love Congress and not see Congress as a stepping stone to higher office. 

Introducing Lloyd was Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Education Director Tony Penny who stated that the Constitution Day event was co-sponsored by the Thousand Oaks Republican Women’s Federated Club.  Penny called the U.S. Constitution “the oldest, shortest and finest governing document ever created.”   He continued by quoting President Ronald Reagan as saying 31 years ago: “Active and informed citizens are vital to effective functioning of our constitutional system.”

Dr. Gordon Lloyd is a senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center (Ashland University, Ohio) and Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor Emeritus of Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy (Malibu).  He holds a doctorate in government from Claremont Graduate School.

The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs was dedicated by Ronald Reagan in 1983 and promotes the study of American history, government, politics and constitutional interpretation for young people, teachers and scholars.   The Center was named after the late Congressman John M. Ashbrook, Republican (1928-1982) who represented Ohio’s 17th Congressional district for 21 years.

The Ashland Center promotes two websites for teachers, students and citizens wishing to learn more about America’s founding documents:   TeachingAmericanHistory.org and 50coredocs.org.

Constitution Week (Sept. 17-23) is also being promoted by Point Of View—a Ventura County citizens non-partisan group formed in February 2017 that has approached cities and school districts in the county seeking Constitution Week proclamations with the slogan:  “We The People…must hold our elected officials accountable.”

Proclamations have been received from the Ventura County Office of Education (August), by Fillmore (issued 9/11), Port Hueneme (9/17) and Simi Valley (9/17) and will be issued by Oxnard (9/18) and Fillmore Unified (9/18).

“We want to keep building this initiative until we see widespread recognition and celebration in Ventura County of the source of liberties, and laws, the U.S. Constitution,” said Deborah Baber Savalla, POV co-founder.


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 24 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected]


Mr. Hernandez is dedicated himself to advance the 13 spheres—as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.

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