Scott Walker Goes All 1798: Arrests Elected Official, Editor in Wisconsin
John Nichols on August 16, 2013 – 12:24 PM ET

The first great test of the American Constitution came in 1798, when President John Adams became so agitated with his critics that he disregarded the Bill of Rights and the rule of law and arranged for the arrest of dissenting elected officials and editors.

Adams was so lawless that his own vice president, Thomas Jefferson, organized the opposition. Two years later, Adams was the first American president to be removed from office by the electorate. And rightly so.

James Madison, the essential drafter of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, referred to the “Alien and Sedition Acts” that Adams and his associates used to justify their assault on the First Amendment as “a monster that must forever disgrace its parents.”

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