Walter E. Williams
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Alert to the dangers of majoritarian tyranny, our Constitution's framers inserted several anti-majority rules. One such rule is that election of the president is not decided by a majority vote but instead by the Electoral College. Nine states have more than 50 percent of the U.S. population. If a simple majority were the rule, conceivably these nine states could determine the presidency. Fortunately, they can't because they have only 225 Electoral College votes when 270 of the 538 total are needed. Were it not for the Electoral College, presidential candidates could safely ignore less populous states.

Two houses of Congress pose another obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the designs of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The Constitution gives the president a veto that weakens the power of 535 members of both houses of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto. To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both Houses to propose an amendment, and to be enacted requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures.

Today's Americans think Congress has the constitutional authority to do anything upon which they can get a majority vote. We think whether a measure is a good idea or a bad idea should determine its passage as opposed to whether that measure lies within the enumerated powers granted Congress by the Constitution. Unfortunately, for the future of our nation, Congress has successfully exploited American constitutional ignorance or contempt.

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Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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