In “McCutcheon,” Justice Roberts Rules on What Democracy Is

In a piece for Boston Review, I say something like this:

The modern Constitution, the one we think of as democratic, did not flower naturally and gloriously from a founding seedling. Its emergence instead looks spasmodic, prejudiced, opportunistic, unpredictable, at times violent, always strange. But because Justice Roberts assesses the Constitution not narratively and historically but structurally and taxonomically, the opinion in McCutcheon is bulletproof. Thanks to the underlying equal right of participation, the Roberts Constitution—neither strictly “originalist” nor liberally “living”—resolves and pacifies all the wild action around voting and equality that has marked the document’s veering career. The Roberts Constitution may serenely apply itself, without tension, to all relevant issues.

And this:

What money corrupts is the whole activity of governing. The legislative docket is the game board. The electorate and the elected alike are the pieces. Most of us don’t have the money to play in that game, and because we don’t have the money—and because we do, thanks to our constitutional history, have the vote—we are the pawns. [. . .] None of that matters to the McCutcheon opinion. There, a large talent for exegesis is expended in proving there is nothing Congress can do to ameliorate its own incapacity as a broadly representative body.

Read the whole essay.

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One thought on “In “McCutcheon,” Justice Roberts Rules on What Democracy Is

  1. Apparently, and I agree with your premise, efforts at creating a government responsive to the needs of the people through voting was all labor wasted, expended down a wrong dead end path.

    Too bad this wasn’t made clear hundreds of years ago so generations of futile efforts, blood, sweat, and tears, could have been directed down a more fruitful path.

    Now we must start with nothing, from the beginning again, to set things right.

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