[Eugene Volokh] The United States Is Both a Republic and a Democracy

[A couple of items I read in the last several days — including one I'll blog about later this week — lead me to write again about this question, adapting some items I wrote up when we were at the Washington Post site.] [1.] I often hear people argue (often quite militantly) that the United States is a republic, not a democracy. But that's a false dichotomy. A common definition of "republic" is, to quote the American Heritage Dictionary, "A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them" — we are that. A common definition of "democracy" is, "Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives" — we are that, too. The United States is not a direct democracy, in the sense of a country in which laws (and other government decisions) are made predominantly by majority vote. Some…

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