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A discussion of Melissa Schwartzberg's Counting the Many: The Origins and Limits of Supermajority Rule

  • Frances E. Lee

Abstract

Majority rule is a hallmark of modern liberal democracy. It is also a complicated, and contentious, idea. It has been subjected to extensive criticism by a range of philosophers, political theorists, and constitutional scholars ever since Plato. And it has been subjected to a range of qualifications and constraints by political elites and constitutional engineers intent on instituting supermajoritarian requirements. Melissa Schwartzberg’s Counting the Many: The Origins and Limits of Supermajority Rule (Cambridge University Press, 2014) is a careful historical and analytic critique of supermajority rule. As Schwartzberg argues: “Although supermajority rules ostensibly aim to reduce the purported risks associated with majority decision making, they do so at the cost of introducing new liabilities associated with the biased judgments they generate and secure.” This is an important argument, of relevance to normative and empirical scholars of democracy and democratization. And so we have invited a range of scholars working on these topics to review the book. — Jeffrey C. Isaac

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References

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Arenberg, Richard and Dove, Robert. 2014. Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

A discussion of Melissa Schwartzberg's Counting the Many: The Origins and Limits of Supermajority Rule

  • Frances E. Lee

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