My Journey at CAC
As I look back on my time at the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC), I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the invaluable learning experiences and opportunities for growth. In my role as Senior Research Associate, I assisted an incredible team of attorneys in crafting appellate and Supreme Court briefs. During this time, I had the privilege to work on some of the most significant cases brought before the Court, witnessing both landmark victories and disappointing losses. It is the wins that continue to inspire my passion for legal advocacy.
One such moment of triumph was the recent ruling in Allen v. Milligan. In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts written for a narrow 5-4 majority, the Court held that Alabama’s congressional redistricting map unlawfully diluted the power of Black voters. As we urged the Court to do in our brief, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the discriminatory results test in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) as a means to enforce the 15th Amendment, reaffirming the broad authority of Congress to enforce constitutional provisions that protect our rights.
The ruling marked a significant victory, not just for voting rights and democracy, but for the power of dedicated legal advocacy that refuses to compromise on the original meaning of our Constitution. CAC’s approach stood out among the briefs filed in the case, as we relied on the Constitution’s text and history to bolster our argument in support of Congress’s power to pass the VRA and thereby enforce the Fifteenth Amendment’s promise that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged . . . on account of race.” In a Court dominated by conservative originalists, CAC’s commitment to progressive originalism is both unique and crucial in bridging the ideological divide on the Court. This approach starts by recognizing that the Constitution, in its most vital respects, is a progressive document, written by revolutionaries and amended by “We the People” to become more just, equitable, and inclusive.
Indeed, progressive originalism is being associated with none other than Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom CAC proudly supported during her nomination to the Court last year. In a defining moment during oral argument in Allen v. Milligan, Justice Jackson made clear that Alabama’s defense of its racially gerrymandered districts would turn the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act on its head. Using a text-book CAC argument, she explained that race-consciousness is baked into the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of racial equality. All too often a selective version of history is employed to justify ideological decisions masked as “originalism.” Against that backdrop, Justice Jackson stands firm, displaying a resolute determination to uphold the integrity of the Constitution’s original meaning.
This fall, while I pursue my J.D. at Harvard Law School, I will carry with me the immeasurable benefits of my experience at CAC. This time has not only strengthened my skills as a legal researcher and writer, but it has also provided me with a deeper understanding of the law and the power of working in the public interest. I know now that the real story of our Constitution is one of struggle—a struggle to make the document come closer to fulfilling its promises for all people, a struggle to ensure those charged with interpreting the document honor its text, history, and values. The real story of our Constitution is about an arc that bends toward justice, not by itself, but because of the dedicated work of advocates like those here at CAC. With these lessons in mind as I embark on this new chapter, I hope to continue developing my jurisprudential voice with an unwavering commitment to the principles enshrined in our founding charter.