The New Pro-Majoritarian Powers

23 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2021 Last revised: 31 Dec 2021

Date Written: March 12, 2021


In her Jorde Lecture, Pam Karlan paints a grim picture of American democracy under siege. Together, the malapportioned Senate, the obsolete Electoral College, rampant voter suppression and gerrymandering, and a Supreme Court happy to greenlight these practices, threaten the very notion of majority rule. I share Karlan’s bleak assessment. I’m also skeptical that conventional tools—judicial decisions and congressional statutes—will solve our current problems. So in this response, I explore a pair of less familiar but possibly more potent alternatives: the authority of each chamber of Congress to judge its members’ elections, and presidential enforcement of the Guarantee Clause. These powers are explicitly delineated by the Constitution. They can’t be stymied by either the Senate’s filibuster or the Court’s hostility. And they hold enormous democratic potential, especially if channeled through the procedures I outline.

Keywords: election law, constitutional law

Suggested Citation

Stephanopoulos, Nicholas, The New Pro-Majoritarian Powers (March 12, 2021). 109 California Law Review 2357 (2021), Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 21-16, Available at SSRN:

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