Why Indiana Matters

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


My column, Why Indiana Matters, was just published on USAToday.com. As it happens, it is because of Our Republican Constitution in two ways. First, because our republican Constitution empowers 50 separate states. As a result, with the rise of political parties, the voters of each state have a separate in the selection of their party's presidential nominee:

It's because of this "republican" system that Indiana matters so much. A democratic constitution would simply hold a national primary on a single day, and whoever gained a majority of the national vote would be the candidate of the party. The votes of Indiana's Republicans would be swamped by candidates running up huge totals in states like New York, Texas and California. Further, by staggering the delegate selection decisions in the 50 states over many months, and moving from one state to another, our republican Constitution gives Republican voters time to see how candidates perform under pressure and to winnow the field.

Now it's Indiana's turn. Those who vote in the primary tomorrow are not the "voice of the people." They don't speak for me. Rather, they are individual electors offering their input into a complex selection system.

Second, only one of the two candidates for the Republican nomination has a grasp on the republican nature of our Constitution:

Only one of the remaining top two Republican candidates, Ted Cruz, loves and understands the limits on government power imposed by our Republican Constitution, which he memorized and recited as a teen. So too does Carly Fiorina, whose father was a conservative federal judge. If Indiana supports them, then other states like California will matter too. If Indiana fails to support them, however, then it's game over, and either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will appoint justices who will stand aside and let them flout the constitutional limits on their powers.

Whether or not I am right that a loss in Indiana is "game over," there is no doubt that our republican Constitution has made the vote tomorrow extremely important.

Of course, I would likely disagree with Senator Cruz on some constitutional issues. For example, I do not share his desire to amend the Constitution to allow for retention elections for justices. And no doubt there would be other issues we disagree about as well, which is true for most everyone. But as between the two remaining candidates for the Republican nomination, the choice is stark. As my column concludes:

Thanks to what's left of our republican Constitution, then, Indiana really matters. And tomorrow its voters will decide if the Constitution will continue to matter, too. Go Hoosiers!