Evaluate the view :

that the US constitution is anti- democratic

America is a democracy with more opportunities to vote and participate than any other modern democracy, but the Founding Fathers were very wary of too much democracy and icuded a number od anti- democratic features.

Ways in which the constitution could be considered anti-democratic include:

Checks and balances/separation of powers - creates a system in which it is too easy for a minority to block legislation; Most Americans are in favour of 'sensible gun laws' and Immigration reform- both blocked in Congress. The Tea Party have more influence in Congress than thier numbers in society would justify. This is reflected in the very low approval rate of Congress- 13%

The composition of the legislature with two equal chambers elected by different constituencies, and in the Senate at different times, means the popular will is difficult to identify and act on. The two chambers will claim competing mandates which tend to obstruct any action.-i.e contributes to the sense that Congress is 'broken'.

Senate - originally unelected, still two per state regardless of population - Big states or under-represented on the Senate and the limit of 435 Representatives means big states are under-represented in the House.

Electoral College -method of indirect election, and even though all electors now formally pledged to candidates, ‘faithless electors’ can vote as they see fit  distortion of popular vote means that the winner of the popular vote may still lose the election- 2000 and 2016

Amendment procedure -too difficult - means updating can be resisted by a determined minority, e.g. the failed attempts to ratify the ERA

Supreme Court  power of the unelected court over the constitution means it can strike down laws passed by elected legislatures e.g Citizens United v FEC  because judicial review is not explicitly detailed in the constitution, there are no effective formal checks.

Failure to specify voting systems and right to vote ( not until the 12th Amendment) led to exclusion of black voters-'Jim Crow' laws

Federalism leads to inequality- rights to abortion/ voting/ access to welfare and treatment of minorities- very unequal across the USA- Shelby County v Holder (2013) - strikes down parts of the Voting Right Act (1965) and removes Federal oversight of election rules- this has led to the introduction of ID checks at polling stations-this discriminates against the poor and black Americans who don't have ID.

Ways in which the constitution could be considered not to be anti-democratic include:

checks and balances/separation of powers  the extensive checks and balances mean legislation is always carefully considered and a full range of views are brought to bear on it. Multiple opportunities for citizens and pressure groups to lobby- Congress, Courts, Executive and State-multiple access points

Electoral College  faithless electors have never affected the result  distortion of popular vote usually works to strengthen the mandate of the winner, only very occasionally does the loser of the popular vote win-The EC was designed as a safeguard against tyranny

amendment procedure  difficulty of the amendment is essential to preserve key principles of the constitution from short-lived waves of sentiment – the passage of the Prohibition amendments shows the process should be more demanding if anything -

The federal system gives every America two layers of government- providing the opportunity for greater representation and diversity - e.g Colorado and legalization of marijuana. Also this flexibily allows for more direct democracy at a state level in initiatives, recall elections and propositions.

The Supreme Court has the ability to defy popular opinion and protect against the tyranny of the majority- e.g Abortion- Roe v Wade .Civil Rights Brown v the Board. Same Sex Marriage- Obergfell v Hodges.