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A Republic, Not a Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, and the Constitution's Guarantee Clause

Robert G. Natelson

The Independence Institute; Montana Policy Institute


Texas Law Review, Vol. 80, p. 807, 2002

Although the argument is often made that voter initiative and referendum procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of a "republican form of government," historical inquiry finds little or no merit in this contention. For the American founders, the concept of republic and democracy largely or entirely overlapped. Moreover, their use of the term "republic" was based on explicit acknowledgment that republics could include direct citizen lawmaking --- as had been the case in the Roman republic and in most other republics prior to the drafting of the Constitution. The purported distinction between "republic" and "democracy" is an invention of the political battles of the 1840s, and draws strength from a misinterpretation of Madison's views in The Federalist.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: constitution, democracy, republic, initiative and referendum, guarantee clause, republican form, founders, Madison, Greek, Rome, classics

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19

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Date posted: January 4, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Natelson, Robert G., A Republic, Not a Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, and the Constitution's Guarantee Clause (2002). Texas Law Review, Vol. 80, p. 807, 2002. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1979002

Contact Information

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)
The Independence Institute ( email )
727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://constitution.i2i.org
Montana Policy Institute ( email )
67 W Kagy Blvd Ste. B
Bozeman, MT 59715
United States
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