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First Amendment

University at Buffalo School of Law

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Minimalism And Deliberative Democracy: A Closer Look At The Virtues Of "Shallowness", Matthew J. Steilen Jan 2010

Minimalism And Deliberative Democracy: A Closer Look At The Virtues Of "Shallowness", Matthew J. Steilen

Journal Articles

Cass Sunstein has long argued that judicial minimalism promotes democracy. According to Sunstein’s view, a court can encourage the political branches of government to address an issue by using doctrines such as vagueness, nondelegation, and desuetude. Although much has been written about minimalism, very little has been said about the democracy-promotion thesis in particular. Yet it is one of the central claims of contemporary minimalism. This article attempts to remedy the deficiency. It argues that minimalism does not promote democracy because minimalist decisions lack the depth necessary to trigger democratic deliberation. The argument occurs in three steps. First, the article …