Reconstructing State Republics

By Francesca L. Procaccini

Our national political dysfunction is rooted in constitutionally dysfunctional states. States today are devolving into modern aristocracies through laws that depress popular control, entwine wealth and power, and insulate incumbents from democratic oversight and accountability. These unrepublican states corrupt the entire United States. It is for this reason that the Constitution obligates the United States to restore ailing states to their full republican strength. But how? For all its attention to process, the Constitution is silent on how the United States may exercise its sweeping
Article IV power to “guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” As states descend into aristocratic cabals, the question of how to enforce the guarantee is of existential importance. This Article illuminates three enforcement mechanisms: direct legislation,
federal incentives, and reconstructing state governments. It establishes that Congress, not the U.S. Supreme Court, is the institutional actor most capable of addressing the republican rot now plaguing the states.