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

52 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2012

See all articles by Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

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.

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

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1979002

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes ( email )

727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://robnatelson.com

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