The Origins of Republican Legal Theory

Published in modified form in THE INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, Elsevier, 2001

20 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2008 Last revised: 14 Oct 2008

Mortimer Newlin Stead Sellers

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: 2001

Abstract

The first self-consciously republican ideology originated in the senatorial opposition to Gaius Julius Caesar, and implies a procedural commitment to certain republican political and legal institutions, usually attributed to Rome's republican constitution of 509-49 b.c. The basic desiderata of republican government, as articulated in the republican legal tradition derived from Rome, secure government for the common good through the checks and balances of a mixed constitution, comprising a sovereign people, an elected executive, a deliberative senate, and a regulated popular assembly, constrained by an independent judiciary, and subject to the rule of law. Some republicans would add representation, the separation of powers, or equality of material possessions, to protect public liberty ("libertas") and avoid Rome's eventual descent into popular tyranny and military despotism. Republican liberty signifies subjection to the law and to magistrates, acting for the common good, and never to the private will or domination ("dominatio") of any private master.

Keywords: Republicanism, Legal Theory,Theory of Law

JEL Classification: K1, K4, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Sellers, Mortimer Newlin Stead, The Origins of Republican Legal Theory (2001). Published in modified form in THE INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, Elsevier, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1139837

Mortimer Newlin Stead Sellers (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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