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. 1 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.
1 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.