Why No Parliaments in the United States?

29 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2011 Last revised: 10 Apr 2014

See all articles by Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: February 23, 2014


Throughout American history, individual states have engaged in what scholars have aptly referred to as an “orgy of constitution-making.” States’ basic charters, however, have diverged profoundly from the federal Constitution in virtually every possible way but one: no state has ever created a parliamentary system. This Article asks why this is so, and finds that the answer reveals a basic American political pathology: a hatred of parties and legislative process, grounded in the electorate’s mythic belief that the only thing preventing political consensus are special interests or venal politicians. The current political paralysis in Washington, and in state capitals, also derives from this myth -- thus demonstrating that inquiring into the absence of American parliaments reveals basic flaws in our current political culture.

Keywords: U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, political parties

Suggested Citation

Zasloff, Jonathan, Why No Parliaments in the United States? (February 23, 2014). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 269 (2013); UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 11-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1924592

Jonathan Zasloff (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

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