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Yale Law Journal


In this Article, Professor Sunstein describes those aspects of republicanism that have the strongest claim to contemporary support, outlines the role of republican thought in the founding period, and explores some of the implications of republicanism for modern public law. Sunstein claims that the basic republican commitments involve (1) deliberation in government; (2) political equality; (3) universality, or agreement as a regulative ideal; and (4) citizenship. Professor Sunstein contends that all of these commitments played an important role during the founding period, generating a distinctive conception of governance. In his view, the common opposition between liberalism and republicanism is a false one; the founders were liberal republicans-a position that, Sunstein argues, is superior to its principal competitors. Sunstein claims that republican ideas suggest reformation of a number of current areas of modern public law, encompassing such contexts as statutory construction, campaign finance regulation, federalism, and discrimination. Professor Sunstein concludes with a discussion of recent proposals for group or proportional representation, arguing that such proposals can be supported by reference to the republican belief in deliberative democracy.

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