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2019

Criminal Law

Criminal justice

UIdaho Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Supermajoritarian Criminal Justice, Aliza Plener Cover Jul 2019

Supermajoritarian Criminal Justice, Aliza Plener Cover

Articles

Democracy is often equated with majority rule. But closer analysis reveals that, in theory and by constitutional design, our criminal justice system should be supermajoritarian, not majoritarian. The Constitution guarantees that criminal punishment may be imposed only when backed by the supermajoritarian-historically, unanimous-approval of a jury drawn from the community. And criminal law theorists' expressive and retributive justifications for criminal punishment implicitly rely on the existence of broad community consensus in favor of imposing it. Despite these constitutional and theoretical ideals, the criminal justice system today is majoritarian at best. Both harsh and contested, it has lost the structural mechanisms …