In this next edition of Liberty Law Talk, I discuss with Gregory Weiner, author of Madison’s Metronome: The Constitution, Majority Rule, and the Tempo of American Politics, James Madison’s understanding of how popular sovereignty, federalism, and separation of powers provide the bulwark of protection for a free and vibrant political and social order. Madison, Weiner observes, considered the constitutional architecture provided by these concepts facilitated the necessity of majority rule, and unlike modern theorists of judicial review, also served as the best guardian of minority rights.
Yesterday’s post, on the seemingly unstoppable growth of federal transfer payments to state and local governments, ended on a question: what happens when both parties to the transaction, the states and the feds confront unsustainable commitments? The brilliant answer our federalism has produced: make yet more unsustainable commitments. Why? Read on to find out.