BOOK REVIEW: THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY: FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS IN REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY. By Lani Guinier. Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1995 President and Fellows of Harvard College
Harvard Women's Law Journal

BOOK REVIEW: THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY: FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS IN REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY. By Lani Guinier.

New York: The Free Press, 1994. 324 pages. $ 24.95.

1995

18 Harv. Women's L.J. 317

Author

PAIGE SCOTT

Excerpt

In her new book, The Tyranny of the Majority, Lani Guinier offers a powerful, principled critique of American democracy. She argues for a standard of fundamental fairness in comparison to which the current electoral and legislative systems are procedurally unfair. Guinier's standard of fundamental fairness requires that every contestant have an equal chance of winning each contest. Winner-take-all rules, single-member district races, and simple majority legislative decisions all increase the likelihood that some participant will win at the expense of others. After demonstrating that these systems violate the principle of fundamental fairness, Guinier proposes remedial measures meant to cure the inequities they produce. The principled application of the primary remedial measure Guinier suggests, cumulative voting, offers opportunities for dramatic change in the American political system. Unfortunately, Guinier never explores the full extent of these opportunities.

The method by which Guinier developed the principle of fundamental fairness ultimately leads her to underestimate the strength and breadth of her own critique. Guinier arrived at the principle of fundamental fairness in an attempt both to secure better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and to increase the electoral and legislative power of racial and language minorities. Throughout The Tyranny of the Majority, Guinier focuses on the situation of these groups. She proposes solutions only as alternatives to inequities affecting them. Yet, systemic electoral and legislative unfairness as measured by the principle of fundamental fairness is widespread. It affects ideological minorities within the majority who are not protected by the ...
 
 
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