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Supermajority Rule in the U.S. Senate

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2017

David R. Mayhew
Yale University


For this occasion, I decided to tackle a topic of, I hope, some historical and theoretical interest, of current policy importance and one that might have interested James Madison.I would like to thank Alan Gerber and Eric Schickler for their help on this work. A useful clarifying point came from Morris Fiorina. Matthew Glassman helped with the references. That topic is supermajority rule in the U.S. Senate—that is, the need to win more than a simple majority of senators to pass laws. Great checker and balancer though Madison was, this feature of American institutional life would probably have surprised him and might have distressed him.

2003 by the American Political Science Association

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