New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers



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This paper considers the political-theory arguments for bicameralism, both in themselves and in their relation to the present debate in the United Kingdom. It explores Bentham's diatribe against bicameralism and it infers that a justification for bicameralism rests on the significance of the difference(s) between the second chamber and the first. If the second chamber is elected, those differences will be partly a matter of the electoral system, the organization of constituencies, and the rhythm of elections. But perhaps the most important difference lies in the way the second chamber is constituted in its relation to the executive. In a Westminster-style system, the first chamber is ordinarily dominated by the executive. The paper makes a number of suggestions about how this can be avoided in the case of an elected second chamber. In this way the principle of the separation of powers is made relevant to the issue of bicameralism.

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Bentham, bicameralism, constitution, courts, legislative, separation of powers