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Adam White On How The Unelected Judiciary Prevents The Tyranny Of The Majority


Published: September 27, 2018

Majority rule is a critical part of democracy, but without legal protections minority groups could be subject to abuses by the majority. Courts and the judicial branch play an important role in protecting their rights and limiting the excesses that would otherwise happen.

This video’s audio is excerpted from Adam White’s 2017 Hoover Institution Summer Policy Boot Camp lecture. 

The Hoover Institution’s Summer Policy Boot Camp an intensive, one-week residential immersion program in the essentials of today’s national and international United States policy for upperclassmen and recent graduates. To learn more, click here.

Additional Resources

  • To learn more, read “Reforming Administrative Law to Reflect Administrative Reality” by Adam White, available here.
  • Watch the “Reforming the Administrative State - And Reining It In,” conference at The Johnson Center, Hoover Institution in which the authors discuss the proposals to rein in the regulatory state, advance innovation, and modernize higher education. Available here.
  • Read “Laboratories of Liberty” in The Weekly Standard by Adam White, available here.
  • In Policy Reforms for an Accountable Administrative State, Adam White, Oren Cass, and Kevin R. Kosar, offer help to policymakers in Congress and the new administration as they take up the task of regulatory reform. Available here.
  • Read “Trumping the Administrative State” by Adam White; available here.
  • Listen as Adam White discusses the possibility of deconstructing the administrative state, available here
  • Listen as Adam White analyzes the administrative state and discusses possible legislative solutions in Necessary & Proper Episode 4: Addressing the Administrative State. Available here.
View Transcript

What does it mean for the courts to have a will of their own? 

What does it mean for the courts to be ambitious or ambitious enough to counteract the ambitions of the other parts of government? 

What does it mean for the interests of the justices or the judges on the court to be attached to the rights of that place? 

This is often referred to as the Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty, this idea that in the context of democratic government or republican government, we do rely on this part of government, the courts, the members of these at the Federal level are unelected, we rely on them to check the excesses of majoritarian government. 

The people themselves choose this counter-democratic brake, B-R-A-K-E, on republican government. 

We need these judicial independence precisely because there come moments where democratic majorities are very interested in rolling over either the rights of the minorities or their representatives are very eager to walk past the limits placed upon them by the constitution.