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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Don’T Be Silly: Lawmakers “Rarely” Read Legislation And Oftentimes Don’T Understand It . . . But That’S Okay, Brian Christopher Jones Sep 2013

Don’T Be Silly: Lawmakers “Rarely” Read Legislation And Oftentimes Don’T Understand It . . . But That’S Okay, Brian Christopher Jones

Brian Christopher Jones

During the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the reading and understanding of legislation became one of the most controversial issues mentioned in Congress and throughout the media. This led many to state that lawmakers should “read the bill,” and led one academic to propose a read-the-bill rule for Congress, where legislators would not vote or vote “no” if they had not read the full text of the legislation. My essay argues that in contemporary legislatures such proposals are unfeasible, and would ultimately produce lower quality legislation. In doing so, the piece uses interviews with legislative ...


Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...


On The Evasion Of Executive Term Limits, Tom Ginsburg Jan 2011

On The Evasion Of Executive Term Limits, Tom Ginsburg

Tom Ginsburg

Executive term limits are pre-commitments through which the polity restricts its ability to retain a popular executive down the road. But in recent years, many presidents around the world have chosen to remain in office even after their initial maximum term in office has expired. They have largely done so by amending the constitution, or sometimes by replacing it entirely. The practice of revising higher law for the sake of a particular incumbent raises intriguing issues that touch ultimately on the normative justification for term limits in the first place. This article reviews the normative debate over term limits and ...


Constituent Authority, Richard Kay Dec 2010

Constituent Authority, Richard Kay

Richard Kay

The force of a constitution, like the force of all enacted law, derives, in significant part, from the circumstances of its enactment. Legal and political theory have long recognized the logical necessity of a “constituent power.” That recognition, however, tells us little about what is necessary for the successful enactment of an enduring constitution. Long term acceptance of a constitution requires a continuing regard for the process that brought it into being. There must be, that is, recognition of the “constituent authority” of the constitution-makers. This paper is a consideration of the idea of “constituent authority” drawing on a comparison ...


Book Review Of Beau Breslin, "From Words To Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality", Robert Tsai Dec 2009

Book Review Of Beau Breslin, "From Words To Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality", Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This is a review of Beau Breslin's book, "From Words to Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality" (Johns Hopkins, 2009). As an antidote to what he believes to be scholarly marginalization of the "unique" aspects of a written constitution, Breslin focuses attention on seven functions of such a legal text: transforming existing orders, conveying collective aspirations, designing institutions, mediating conflict, recognizing claims of subnational communities, empowering social actors, and constraining governmental authority. This review briefly critiques Breslin's functional approach and discusses two of the more pressing goals of modern constitutionalism: managing social conflict and preserving cultural heritage.


The U.N. Security Council Ad Hoc Rwanda Tribunal: International Justice, Or Judicially-Constructed “Victor’S Impunity”?, C. Peter Erlinder Dec 2009

The U.N. Security Council Ad Hoc Rwanda Tribunal: International Justice, Or Judicially-Constructed “Victor’S Impunity”?, C. Peter Erlinder

C. Peter Erlinder

ABSTRACT The U.N. Security Council Ad Hoc Rwanda Tribunal: International Justice, or Juridically-Constructed “Victor’s Impunity”? Prof. Peter Erlinder [1] ________________________ “…if the Japanese had won the war, those of us who planned the fire-bombing of Tokyo would have been the war criminals….” [2] Robert S. McNamara, U.S. Secretary of State “…and so it goes…” [3] Billy Pilgrim (alter ego of an American prisoner of war, held in the cellar of a Dresden abattoir, who survived firebombing by his own troops, author Kurt Vonnegut Jr.) Introduction Unlike the postWW- II Tribunals, the U.N. Security Council tribunals for ...


Boyakasha, Fist To Fist: Respect And The Philosophical Link With Reciprocity In International Law And Human Rights, Donald Kochan Dec 2005

Boyakasha, Fist To Fist: Respect And The Philosophical Link With Reciprocity In International Law And Human Rights, Donald Kochan

Donald J. Kochan

From Grotius to Hobbes to Locke to an unconventional modern pop-culture manifestation in Ali G, the concept of “respect” has always been understood as important in human interaction and human agreements. The concept of mutual understanding and obligation pervades human interaction, and, for purposes of this Article, international relations. Almost all basic principles in English, United States, and other country’s laws that value human and individual rights have based, over time, the development of their laws on the philosophical principle of respect. So much of common and statutory law is designed to enforce respect for others. The principle question ...


Book Review Essay: Canada's Constitutional Cul De Sac, Richard Kay Dec 2004

Book Review Essay: Canada's Constitutional Cul De Sac, Richard Kay

Richard Kay

Book reivew of 'Constitutional Odyssey: Can Canadians Become a Sovereign People?', by Peter H. Russell (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2004).


The Secession Reference And The Limits Of Law, Richard Kay Dec 2002

The Secession Reference And The Limits Of Law, Richard Kay

Richard Kay

When the Supreme Court of Canada issued its judgment on the legality of "unilateral" Quebec secession in August 1998 many Canadians did not know what to make of it. The Court held that the only lawful way in which Quebec might depart the Canadian federation was through one of the amendment mechanisms provided in the Constitution Act 1982. It thus affirmed that Quebec could not secede without the agreement of at least the Houses of the federal Parliament and some number of provincial legislative assemblies. Prime Minister Chretien declared the next day that the judgement was a "victory for all ...


Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, And Justice, Justin Schwartz Jan 1997

Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, And Justice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

THIS PAPER IS THE CO-WINNER OF THE FRED BERGER PRIZE IN PHILOSOPHY OF LAW FOR THE 1999 AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE BEST PUBLISHED PAPER IN THE PREVIOUS TWO YEARS.

The conflict between liberal legal theory and critical legal studies (CLS) is often framed as a matter of whether there is a theory of justice that the law should embody which all rational people could or must accept. In a divided society, the CLS critique of this view is overwhelming: there is no such justice that can command universal assent. But the liberal critique of CLS, that it degenerates into ...