Bicameral Representation

Frances E. Lee

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Bicameral Representation

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In James Madison's Federalist 51, he justified the framer's stand on dividing the national legislature into two branches to disperse and check political power. Reflecting on this institutional choice, Richard F. Fenno, Jr. said that the division of the national legislature into two separate bodies had not been a much-debated issue in 1787 and has been taken for granted ever since. The case of bicameralism has been widely accepted in American politics so that up to date, the fifty state legislatures still have two chambers. In the U.S., bicameral institutions have been the most broadly and tacitly accepted of the political institutions. This article examines empirical and theoretical research on bicameral representation and suggests further avenues for investigation. After discussing theories of bicameralism, the article focuses on two topics. First, the policy and political implications of dividing the legislature into two chambers and second the constitutional features that make the two chambers different from each other.

Keywords: legislature; bicameralism; two chambers; bicameral institutions; bicameral representation; theories of bicameralism; policy implications; political implications; constitutional features

Article.  9614 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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