Letter: The Guarantee of a Republican Form of Government: Our last best hope?


by Andrew Majeske

We need to remember that there is an “impractical” Constitutional remedy for the Senate filibuster impasse and the wide array of efforts that have been implemented (or are planned) to restrict voting and voter rights at the state level. This solution is “impractical” only because the US Supreme Court has determined that the clause in the Constitution that could help us in the current crisis is not “justiciable.”

That is, the Supreme Court long ago ruled that it would not decide cases based on this clause, a clause that anti-slavery advocate Senator Charles Sumner (Massachusetts) once described as the “sleeping giant” of the Constitution. This clause, in Article 4, section 4 of the Constitution, mandates that the “United States shall guarantee to every state in the union a republican form of government.”

Perhaps with Justice Stephen Breyer’s announced retirement the issue of increasing the size of the Supreme Court can again become the focus of attention. And while there is still time, a reconstituted and expanded Supreme Court can revisit the issue of the justiciability of the Republican Form of Government Guarantee. Once it holds the clause justiciable, the Supreme Court can then interpret and apply this Guarantee against the offending states so as to halt and reverse the un-republican actions that have so limited and perverted the voting franchise of targeted portions of the citizens in those states.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we lose our freedoms it will be because we have destroyed ourselves from within.” (Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum Address)


About The Author

Professor, McGeorge School of Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)

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