When the Supreme Court in 2003 struck down a Texas law prohibiting homosexual sodomy, it cited the right to privacy based on the guarantee of "substantive due process" embodied by the Constitution. But did the court act undemocratically by overriding the rights of the majority of voters in Texas? Scholars often point to such cases as exposing a fundamental tension between the democratic principle of majority rule and the liberal concern to protect individual rights. Democratic Rights challenges this view by (...) showing that, in fact, democracy demands many of these rights. Corey Brettschneider argues that ideal democracy is comprised of three core values--political autonomy, equality of interests, and reciprocity--with both procedural and substantive implications. These values entitle citizens not only to procedural rights of participation but also to substantive rights that a "pure procedural" democracy might not protect. What are often seen as distinctly liberal substantive rights to privacy, property, and welfare can, then, be understood within what Brettschneider terms a "value theory of democracy." Drawing on the work of John Rawls and deliberative democrats such as Jürgen Habermas, he demonstrates that such rights are essential components of--rather than constraints on--an ideal democracy. Thus, while defenders of the democratic ideal rightly seek the power of all to participate, they should also demand the rights that are the substance of self-government. (shrink)
Brettschneider extends this analysis from freedom of expression to the freedoms of religion and association, and he shows that value democracy can uphold the protection of these freedoms while promoting equality for all citizens.
Religious freedom is often thought to protect, not only religious practices, but also the underlying religious beliefs of citizens. But what should be said about religious beliefs that oppose religious freedom itself or that deny the concept of equal citizenship? The author argues here that such beliefs, while protected against coercive sanction, are rightly subject to attempts at transformation by the state in its expressive capacities. Transformation is entailed by a commitment to publicizing the reasons and principles that justify the (...) basic rights of citizens. (shrink)
Democratic theorists often distinguish between two views of democratic procedures. ‘Outcomes theorists’ emphasize the instrumental nature of these procedures and argue that they are only valuable because they tend to produce good outcomes. In contrast, ‘proceduralists’ emphasize the intrinsic value of democratic procedures, for instance, on the grounds that they are fair. In this paper. I argue that we should reject pure versions of these two theories in favor of an understanding of the democratic ideal that recognizes a commitment to (...) both intrinsically valuable democratic procedures and democratic outcomes. In instances in which there is a conflict between these two commitments, I suggest they must be balanced. This balancing approach offers a justification of judicial review on the grounds that it potentially limits outcomes that undermine democracy. But judicial review is not justifiable in any instance in which a bad democratic outcome results from democratic procedures. When the loss that would result from overturning a democratic procedure is greater than the gain to democracy that would result from ensuring against an undemocratic outcome; judicial review is not justifiable. Loss or gain to democracy is defined by the negative or positive impact of each action on the core democratic values of equality and autonomy, aspects of the democratic ideal. Even when judicial review is justified, the fact that it overturns intrinsically valuable procedures suggests that such review is never ideal from the standpoint of democracy. (shrink)
In this essay I develop and defend a theory of state punishment within a wider conception of political legitimacy. While many moral theories of punishment focus on what is deserved by criminals, I theorize punishment within the specific context of the state's relationship to its citizens. Central to my account is Rawls's “liberal principle of legitimacy,” which requires that all state coercion be justifiable to all citizens. I extend this idea to the justification of political coercion to criminals qua citizens. (...) I argue that the liberal principle of legitimacy implicitly requires states to respect the basic political rights of those who are guilty of committing crimes, thus prohibiting capital punishment. (shrink)
Liberal political theorists often argue that justice requires limits on policy outcomes, limits delineated by substantive rights. Distinct from this project is a body of literature dedicated to elaborating on the meaning of democracy in procedural terms. In this article, I offer an alternative to the traditional divide between procedural theories of democracy and substantive theories of justice; I call this the value theory of democracy. I argue that the democratic ideal is fundamentally about a core set of values (political (...) autonomy, equality of interests, and reciprocity) with both procedural and substantive implications. Further, I contend that limits on policy outcomes can be newly understood as part of the democratic ideal. Key Words: democracy rights substantive procedural Habermas. (shrink)
Feminist thinkers have long criticized liberal theory’s public/private distinction for perpetuating indifference to injustices within the family. Thinkers such as Susan Okin have extended this criticism in evaluating the theory of political liberalism, suggesting that this theory’s reliance on a public conception of citizenship renders it indifferent to the way in which the internal politics of the family can undermine equality.However, I argue in this article that the feminist concern to ensure equality within the domestic sphere can in fact be (...) incorporated into a reconstructed account of political liberalism. Central to my strong public reconstruction is the principle of publicly justifiable privacy, according to which the public/private distinction itselfmust be formulated with reference to the values of free and equal citizenship. On my account, the public values of citizenship should figure prominently in evaluations of family life. This reformulation of the public/private distinction answers feminist critics who suggest that political liberalism fails to offer a politics of the personal. (shrink)
In this short essay, I respond to Brian Leiter’s Why Tolerate Religion. I focus on two criticisms. First, I argue that Leiter’s own theory depends on an unacknowledged ideal of equality, and that equality is central to the utilitarian and Rawlsian bases for religious toleration that he draws upon in his book. Second, I argue against Leiter’s allowing, in certain circumstances, the state to establish religion and to promote religious conceptions of the good.
The right to private property is among the most fundamental in liberal theory. For many liberals the idea of the state is grounded in its role as a protector of private property. If the liberal state is justified by its ability to protect property, the modern welfare state is often justified by its ability to meet needs. According to a view commonly referred to as “welfarism,” the very fact that needs exist implies there is a moral obligation to meet them. (...) In this Article I appeal to Rawlsian contractualist justification, including the “criterion of reciprocity,” in developing a third manner of thinking about the relationship between property and welfare. I argue that welfare rights are necessary conditions for justifying a role for the state in enforcing the “right to exclude,” a fundamental element of private ownership. My Article thus aims to use Rawls’ account of justification, outlined in his later works, to theorize the notion of property-owning democracy from Theory of Justice. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the same logic that imbues the state with the legitimate authority to punish also imposes restraints on that authority. It suggests that scholarship on punishment puts more emphasis on the political legitimacy of state punishment rather than on the moral question of what is deserved by criminals. It turns to Rousseau's social contract based justification for punishment as a crucial resource in that effort. It begins by closely examining Rousseau's claim that the criminal consents to punishment, (...) and by suggesting that his seemingly absurd and perverse claims are actually defensible. It goes on to clarify two senses in which Rousseau's understanding of consent serves to ground the rights of the guilty. First, it argues that the idea of consent itself legitimizes some punishment but also sets strict limits on when and how the state can punish. Second, it argues that Rousseau's account of welfare rights also sets a limit on when the state may rightfully punish. The final two sections of the chapter consider the role of punishment outside the social contract in Rousseau's theory and suggest an important contrast between Rousseau's and Hobbes's conceptions of punishment. (shrink)
Hate groups are often thought to reveal a paradox in liberal thinking. On the one hand, such groups challenge the very foundations of liberal thought, including core values of equality and freedom. On the other hand, these same values underlie the rights such as freedom of expression and association that protect hate groups. Thus a liberal democratic state that extends those protections to such groups in the name of value neutrality and freedom of expression may be thought to be undermining (...) the values on which its legitimacy rests. In this paper, I suggest how this apparent paradox might be resolved. I argue that the state should protect the expression of illiberal beliefs, but that the state (along with its citizens) is also obligated to criticize publicly those beliefs. Distinguishing between two kinds of state action—coercive and expressive—I contend that such criticism should be pursued through the state’s expressive capacities in its roles as speaker, educator, and spender. Here I extend the familiar idea that law, to be legitimate, must be widely publicized; I contend that a proper theory of the freedom of expression obligates the legitimate state to publicize the reasons that underlie rights, in particular reasons that appeal to the entitlement of each citizen subject to coercion to be treated as free and equal. My theory of freedom of expression is thus “expressive” in two senses: it protects the entitlement of citizens to express any political viewpoint, and it emphasizes a role for the state in explaining these free-speech protections and persuading its citizens of the value of the entitlements that underlie them. (shrink)