Working Group on Law and Democracy

Frank Buckley - "The Efficient Secret: How Americans Nearly Adopted a Parliamentary System, and Why They Should Have Done So

Fri, February 10, 2012 | TBD

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Frank Buckley -

For the paper click here. 


The American presidential system, with its separation of powers, plausibly imposes enormous costs on the economy without compensating gains, as seen in the current gridlock over the debt crisis. Modern parliamentary systems of government, such as those in Britain and Canada, seem to handle such problems more efficiently. Regretfully, however, the principle of separationism has been extended in Supreme Court decisions and in the Senate filibuster, in part because of the mistaken idea that this is what the Founders intended. A close examination of the preferences of the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 tells a very different story. Had they voted on our present regime of presidential elections, they almost certainly would have rejected it. This conclusion is buttressed by an empirical analysis of delegate voting patterns

Frank Buckley is a Foundation Professor of Law. He has taught at George Mason University School of Law since 1989, and before then was a Visiting Olin Fellow of the University of Chicago Law School. He was twice a visiting professor at the Sorbonne (Paris II), and in fall 2007 was a visiting professor at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). His law degrees are from McGill and Harvard.

Professor Buckley is the author of numerous books and articles on law and economics and has published in many of the leading journals, including the Journal of Legal Studies, the International Review of Law and Economics, and Public Choice. His most recent books are The Morality of Laughter (University of Michigan Press) and Just Exchange: A Theory of Contract (Routledge).

For more information click here. 

Sponsored by: Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies and Department of Government

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