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Separation of Powers and the Madisonian Model: A Reply to the Critics

George W. Carey
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 72, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 151-164
DOI: 10.2307/1953605
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1953605
Page Count: 14
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Separation of Powers and the Madisonian Model: A Reply to the Critics
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Abstract

This article critically examines the commonly held proposition that Madison advocated separation of powers as a means of thwarting majority rule, or, conversely, of protecting identifiable minority interests. Rather, Madison's chief purpose in advancing the doctrine of separation of powers--one which was shared by the majority of his contemporaries--was to prevent governmental tyranny whose characteristic feature was seen as arbitrary and capricious rule resulting in government of men, not of laws. Many modern critics' analyses of the Madisonian model (most notably, Burns, Dahl, and advocates of a responsible party system) are seriously deficient because they fail to take into account this dimension of the model. Madison's writings, principally in The Federalist, as well as his remarks at the Philadelphia convention, clearly indicate that one of his central concerns was simultaneously to provide for protection against governmental tyranny and to guarantee popular control of government. This article examines in some detail certain critical aspects of this endeavor.

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