LAW 567

Direct Democracy

Public Interest Law

This course will give students an understanding of the special tools of direct democracy—the ballot initiative, the referendum, and the recall—and their role in the American political system.  We will study the origins of direct democracy in the Populist and Progressive agitation against the dominant political parties and economic interests of the late nineteenth century.  And we will study how the same tools are used today by advocates of a wide range of political and economic views.  The course will cover both theoretical and practical questions about the differences, relative merits, and interaction of institutions of direct and representative democracy, including questions about the protection of minority rights. Students will leave the course with a richer sense of how these special democratic tools, native to the American West, offer an alternative to—and yet are also subject to some of the same pathologies as—the rest of the American political system.

See Full Course Details