Vanderbilt Law Review


David S. Louk

First Page



This Article considers whether the Clause might serve as an additional constitutional basis for federal legislation and explores the interpretive arguments Congress might raise to justify the power to reform electoral processes in the states under the Clause. This Article also questions the prevailing view that the Supreme Court has always treated the Clause as functionally nonjusticiable. It argues that even following established precedents, the contemporary Court might well engage with the merits of legislation and litigation commenced under the Clause, given the Court’s recent penchant for enhanced scrutiny of congressional enforcement powers under the Reconstruction Amendments. Such challenges would spark a historical constitutional confrontation between Congress and the Court as to the meaning of the Clause. The Court might take one of several approaches when interpreting Congress’s power to legislate under the Clause, and this Article concludes that the Clause is the rare constitutional provision that would seem to grant both the courts and the political branches independent and complementary bases to guarantee republican government. Judicial scrutiny of congressional actions taken under the Clause should be heightened when congressional efforts can more readily be achieved by the states or by the courts and diminished when only Congress or president could effectively serve as the guarantor.