New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

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New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 35, No. 3, p. 602, 2011


A critical overview of judicial activity in the democracy area since Baker v. Carr. Professor Neuborne argues that the failure of the judiciary to commit to a substantive conception of democracy has resulted in a judicially-designed law of democracy that may or may not be defensible on purely doctrinal grounds, but that has resulted in the evolution of a poorly-designed democracy that no rational Founder would have endorsed. The article surveys five lines of judicial authority: (1) defining the eligible electorate: (2) determining the circumstances under which eligible members of the electorate can be disenfranchised; (3) regulating the formal operation of the electoral process, including gerrymandering; (4) determining the ability of voters to influence entrenched political interests; and (5) regulating the funding of electoral campaigns, and concludes that, except for the definition of the eligible electorate, judges have done a poor job in developing the law of democracy. The article argues for a greater sense of judicial responsibility for the quality of the democracy their decisions are shaping.

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