Political Avoidance, Constitutional Theory, and the VRA
Richard H. Pildes
New York University School of Law
Yale Law Journal Pocket Part, Vol. 117, p. 148, 2007
NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-38
Constitutional theory and design have been dominated by the specter of legislative and executive institutions voraciously seeking to expand their powers. But in modern political practice, the flight from political responsibility - the problem of political abdication - is at least as serious a threat. Constitutional theory has paid too little attention to this problem. And as a matter of institutional design, we are still struggling to find tools to force political actors to take responsibility they would rather avoid. Abdication, not aggrandizement, is the common thread that unites Congress's virtual absence from any major policymaking role on terrorism-related issues in the first five years after September 11th and the recent reauthorization process for the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
This essay shows how the recent VRA renewal process presses scholars to consider the phenomenon of political avoidance and its implications for institutional design and constitutional theory.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: Constitution, Democracy, Elections, Voting Rights, Constitutional Theory, Political Process, Legislative Process
Date posted: March 3, 2008 ; Last revised: November 12, 2008