Constitutional Accountability Center Launched to Take Back the Constitution from Conservative Dominance

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 3, 2008) – Leading legal scholars and practitioners today announced the launch of the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC). The new think tank, law firm and action center is out to improve the way progressives fight conservatives over the direction of the Supreme Court, think and talk about the Constitution, and strategize to win legal victories — all by focusing on Constitutional text and history.

The Center launched with a forum examining Supreme Court politics, the important ways in which the Constitution in fact favors progressives, and how progressives can win on the campaign trail, in Congress and in the courts by embracing the Constitution’s text and history.  Held at the National Press Club, the forum featured Yale Law School Professor Akhil Amar, attorney and political advisor Ron Klain, attorney and journalist Dahlia Lithwick, and CAC’s Founder and President Doug Kendall.


“The best legal scholarship, rooted in text and history, points to the powerful conclusion that the Constitution is progressive in its most vital respects. Through decades of empty rhetoric and flawed scholarship, conservative ‘originalists’ have tried to obscure that fact, and we’re out to reclaim the Constitution for Americans,” said Founder and President Doug Kendall.


In addition to the forum, CAC:

  • Released “Taking Back the Constitution”, a short report summarizing its legal approach and the progressive promise in text and history.
  • Launched its new web site,, which will be the online home of CAC, including the “Text and History” blog, and the “Warming Law” blog.
  • Bulked up its legal team by hiring Elizabeth Wydra, an appellate specialist who had been working with Kathleen Sullivan at the San Francisco law firm Quinn Emanuel. Jim Ryan of the University of Virginia and Sean Donahue and David Goldberg of Donahue & Goldberg have joined CAC as outside counsel. 
  • Announced that leading legal thinkers and practitioners including Akhil Amar, Ron Klain, Walter Dellinger, and Jack Balkin have joined CAC as advisers.

 The Center has based its approach on the scholarship of legal giants such as Amar, Balkin, Charles Black, and Larry Tribe, and will use it to fundamentally realign the debate over the Constitution and the Supreme Court.


“We should embrace the Constitution rather than conceding it,” Amar says. “It is not the unique inheritance of conservatives.”


The nation faces an election with enormous implications in November, and CAC plans to play an influential role in our courts, in the fight over judicial nominees, and the public debate over the Constitution and its meaning no matter which candidate wins the White House in 2008.


As a think tank, CAC will develop arguments and narratives rooted in text and history and the communications framework for a stronger progressive message on the courts and the law. As a public interest law firm, CAC will translate arguments and narratives based on text and history into briefs that help win cases. As an action center, CAC will relentlessly seek to unite progressives around shared narratives, rooted in text and history, about our Constitution and the role of the courts. CAC will work in areas of Environmental Law, Redefining Federalism, Human and Civil Rights, Citizenship, and Immigration, Corporations, Access to the Courts, Juries and the Ballot Box, and Judicial Accountability.


CAC grows out of the work of the Community Rights Counsel (CRC), a public interest law firm that for 10 years won by focusing on what the Constitution actually says. Concentrating on environmental law, CRC has aggressively employed arguments about the Constitution’s text and history in its winning advocacy before the Supreme Court, its path-breaking work in judicial selection and its successful campaign against corporate-funded judicial junkets.


Press inquiries to CAC should be directed to Anna Landmark at 703-302-8380 and


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THE CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank, law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution’s text and history. CAC works in our courts, through our government, and with legal scholars to preserve the rights and freedoms of all Americans and to protect our judiciary from politics and special interests.