The Deliberative Case for Constitutional Referenda

Ron Levy, "The Deliberative Case for Constitutional Referenda" (2017) 16(2) Election Law Journal 213.

14 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2017

See all articles by Ron Levy

Ron Levy

Australian National University

Date Written: June 21, 2017

Abstract

In this article I examine controversies over the use of referenda and plebiscites for constitutional reform. My chief example is a recent development toward plebiscitary democracy in Australia. Although there is no legal requirement in Australia for a popular vote to legalize same-sex marriage, the federal government considered holding such a vote. Marriage rights provide a key example in which the normative case for direct democratic constitutional reform remains unsettled, and indeed controversial. I rely on deliberative democratic theory to conclude that referenda and plebiscites generally should be part of constitutional reform processes. I nuance this conclusion by outlining categories of legal norms raising distinctive considerations as to whether and when public voting should precede constitutional reform.

Keywords: referendum, plebiscite, constitutional reform, deliberative democracy, same-sex marriage

Suggested Citation

Levy, Ron, The Deliberative Case for Constitutional Referenda (June 21, 2017). Ron Levy, "The Deliberative Case for Constitutional Referenda" (2017) 16(2) Election Law Journal 213., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990519

Ron Levy (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
Australia

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