Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2016

First Page






Source Publication Abbreviation

Harv. J.L & Pub. Pol'y


This Article argues that states do and should play as important a role as the federal government in articulating and implementing the law governing state political processes, or in formal terms, their republican forms of government.20 The argument has four parts. Part I introduces the basic meaning of the guarantee and its amendment. Beyond a consensus that holds our republicanism to require basic political equality, various perfectionist conceptions of a republican form of government diverge, giving way to the essential pluralism of republican governments in a federal system. Part II explains how the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Executive are now unable to articulate, let alone implement, a workable national consensus on any perfectionist republicanism beyond a thin conception of those basic rights to political equality. Part III describes the states as the source of persistent pluralism in their republican forms of government, as both legal systems and political cultures that produce and are sustained by those systems. Part IV argues that these distinctions in how states articulate and implement their own plural versions of republicanism are crucial to efforts toward reforming, let alone perfecting, republicanism at the national level. Given the unsettled visions of republicanism at the national level and the structural autonomy the states must retain at the core of our federal system, a plurality of views on republicanism among the states is not only durable but desirable.