Thursday, November 21, 2019

Majority Rule and Minority Rights in American Government Essay

Majority Rule and Minority Rights in American Government - Essay Example 3). Indeed, there are several places in the Constitution where suspicion of unchecked majority power is evident - from the Bill of Rights to the structure of the Senate to the Electoral College. To be sure, some historical events that ran relatively concurrent with the birth of the United States, primarily the French Revolution and its associated "Reign of Terror," provided ample illustration of the potential for majority rule to degenerate into mob rule. Majority rule means a system of government in which the will of the majority if given full force and effect within the laws and regulations of the country. It is, essentially, a pure democracy. Minority rights are those liberties and privileges that naturally accrue toward those who do not necessarily agree with the will of the majority. The latter rights have been associated with the concepts of natural law and human rights, whereby those in the minority deserve to be treated with a certain minimum level of dignity and respect simply because they are humans and citizens of the country that acknowledges and respects those natural rights. In his seminal work On Liberty, John Stuart Mill lays his doctrine of the right of individuals to act in any way they choose so long as it does not interfere with the freedom of others. This notion of liberty is essential to minority rights in a democracy. Democracy in the United States In many ways, the United States Constitution does not really set up a majority rule system - that is, it is not a true democracy. A close evaluation of the various branches of government reveals that the only body that is designed to be truly responsive to the will of the majority is the House of Representatives, established under Article 1 of the Constitution. The President is not even directly elected by the people under Article 2 of the Constitution; the Senate's lengthy six year terms arguably insulate its members from the whim of the majority (Article 1); and members of the Supreme Court, where the buck truly stops on how Americans are governed, are appointed for life by this President and Senate that are buffered from the will of the majority (Article 3). Moreover, the Constitution established a federal system in which the states retain substantial sovereignty in nearly all matters of government, greatly limiting the extent to which the central government of the U.S. has the power to impose the will of the national majority. The 10th Amendment states that all powers not specifically enumerated within the Constitution as belonging to the federal government are reserved to the states. Thus, it is necessary that some specific provision of the Constitution grants authority to the federal government in order for it to legally regulate any given area. In that vein, the commerce clause, granting to the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce, has often been heavily relied upon to justify laws enacted by Congress. This has come to the great chagrin of many strict constructionists, who have protested the Supreme Court's invoking of the commerce clause to uphold the legality of many federal laws that have had a connection t o interstate commerce that is tenuous at best. The effects of these severe

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