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14 - Legislatures and Effective Government: Raising Expectations for Representatives

from Part VI - Legislatures, Representation, and Duties of Effective Self-Government

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2022

Vicki C. Jackson
Affiliation:
Harvard Law School, Massachusetts
Yasmin Dawood
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

Effective governance is necessary in a successful constitutional democracy. This is not to deny that a central animating force in a democracy must be respect for the human individual. But a government that is not effective and seen as such is not likely to be able to protect individual rights. It is thus a mistake to conceptualize individual rights simply as in conflict with the collective goals of a democratic government: those goals are effective governance and rights preservation, and – in a democracy – these two are connected.

The framers of the US Constitution well understood that a constitutional state must act for public-regarding purposes – to “establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” To the extent that it fails to move in these directions, government will lose the confidence of the people. Effective government in constitutional democracies requires effective legislatures to promote all of these purposes.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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