Towards a Practice of Deliberative Democracy: A Proposal for a Popular Branch

Posted: 14 Jul 2003

See all articles by Ethan J. Leib

Ethan J. Leib

Fordham University School of Law


Frustrated by the failure of theorists of deliberative democracy to envision concrete institutional design proposals that the theory recommends, the author proposes a fourth branch of government called the Popular Branch. The Article recommends replacement of the initiative and referendum processes with deliberative assemblies, where stratified random samples of lay citizens are compelled to convene and decide policy questions in a jury-like environment. The Article tries to evision how this mechanism for garnering both a civic voice and a popular will could be integrated with the separation of powers and acceptable checks and balances.

Keywords: deliberation, deliberative democracy, popular will, institutional design, Habermas, Fishkin

Suggested Citation

Leib, Ethan J., Towards a Practice of Deliberative Democracy: A Proposal for a Popular Branch. Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 359, 2002. Available at SSRN: or

Ethan J. Leib (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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