54:3 Restoring the Deliberative Ideal: The Jury as a Framework for Reforming Congress

Abstract

Members of Congress must fulfill two, often competing functions. They are expected to represent their constituents’ views and opinions, on the one hand, while simultaneously engaging in thoughtful debate over the national interest. For largely electoral reasons, Congress now skews toward meeting its representative purpose, while the deliberative ideal suffers. Although many efforts to reform Congress implicitly recognize this dichotomy of roles, until reform proposals explicitly address these competing obligations, they cannot succeed in solving the problems facing Congress. Perhaps more importantly, understanding this divide in Congress’s functions allows us to look to the only other collective body facing a similar demand to be both representative and deliberative: the jury. This Article explores the historical, political, and functional link between the jury and Congress, and it draws from the rules surrounding the jury broad lessons that ought to guide future efforts at reforming Congress.