Lanni and Vermeule: Precautionary Constitutionalism in Ancient Athens

Harvard Law school professors Adriaan Lanni and Adrian Vermeule discuss sortition among other Athenian political mechanisms. They write:

In the ancient Greek world, selection of magistrates by lot was nearly synonymous with democracy. One of the most important functions of the lot in the Athenian democratic structure was to prevent any individual magistrate from amassing too much power and thereby threatening the sovereignty of the popular Assembly. We argue that the lot, taken together with the principles of rotation and collegiality, operated as precautionary measures against individuals gaining too much influence. Continue reading