Rule of Law

Reflections on an Inspiring Kendall Fellowship

I was drawn to the Constitutional Accountability Center by CAC’s refusal to cede constitutional text, history, and values to conservatives.  After joining the team as a Douglas T. Kendall Fellow, I’ve been honored to work alongside colleagues dedicated to expanding and defending our democracy, protecting individual rights, and ensuring that our government remains able to protect workers, consumers, and the environment.  It’s difficult to imagine a better place to have spent the last year.

To put it lightly, this is not the easiest time for progressive litigation.  During its previous term, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, made it harder for lawmakers to prevent gun violence, and hamstrung the EPA’s ability to fight climate change.  The hits kept coming this term, especially during a brutal final week where the Court struck down universities’ affirmative action programs, created an exception to public accommodations law making it easier to discriminate, and ended the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan.

In tough times like this, it becomes even more important to have organizations like CAC in the fight.  This term proved that.  CAC filed amicus briefs in cases where the Supreme Court rejected the worst form of the outlandish ‘independent state legislature’ theory, protected Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, confirmed that Spending Clause statutes can create private rights enforceable under Section 1983, and rejected an attempt to use the Dormant Commerce Clause to strike down a state public health law.  And in each, CAC’s in-depth discussion of text and history helped guide the Court to the correct outcome.

The year has flown by as I’ve enjoyed contributing to CAC’s mission across a variety of issues.  I joined my colleagues writing for not just CAC, but also law professors, historians, and even a former member of Congress.  Some highlights include briefs before federal appellate courts defending OSHA workplace safety standards, EPA vehicle greenhouse gas limits, and local government gun safety disclosures.  It’s still a bit surreal that I was able to contribute to briefing at the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding and the validity of the Biden administration’s debt relief plan.  And as a Kendall Fellow, it was only fitting that I was able to continue Doug’s fight against a distorted view of the Takings Clause through my work on CAC’s brief in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, where we argued that the Takings Clause does not impede federal protections for striking workers.

Furthermore, even if our ideas do not win the day in court, it is important to spur conversations and work towards a more accurate understanding of the text and history of our Constitution and laws.  On that front, it was wonderful to coauthor a law review article on the proper scope of the major questions doctrine with CAC’s Brianne Gorod and Brian Frazelle and publish op-eds on delegation and student debt relief.

It is really hard to believe that my time at CAC is already coming to an end.  This past year, I’ve learned so much from all of my colleagues, who are not only brilliant but also welcoming and kind.  Being able to work with such a great team has certainly made me a better writer and advocate.  And it has also inspired me to keep pushing towards securing the Constitution’s progressive promise, wherever my legal career takes me.  I’ll undoubtedly miss working here, but I look forward to keeping up with CAC’s efforts to further justice for all.