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Issue Briefs

CAC’s Issue Briefs Series provides commentary and analysis on current constitutional and political issues. The issue briefs are supplements to our Text and History Narrative Series and Text & History blog, and will be produced when a particular issue warrants greater depth of exploration than is possible in a blog post. Please click on the Issue Brief title for a more detailed description of each Issue Brief.

July 25, 2017

Donald J. Trump’s decision to assume the presidency without separating from his businesses has undermined vital protections in our Constitution meant to ensure that the President does not put his personal interests above the interests of the nation and subvert our constitutional system. Among those critical protections is the Domestic Emoluments Clause, which bars the President from receiving benefits other than his compensation from the federal, state, or local governments.

March 16, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch has styled himself as an originalist cut from the same mold as Justice Antonin Scalia. To those on the right, this makes Gorsuch an ideal nominee: brilliant, scholarly, and an impassioned defender of the Constitution. The problem is that Gorsuch’s record—reflected in his opinions and other writings—suggests that he is a selective originalist, committed to following only some of the Constitution’s text and history. Judge Gorsuch will therefore have a heavy burden to meet when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee: he can’t simply call himself an originalist; he has to demonstrate that he is committed to following the text and history of the whole Constitution where it leads—both the Founding documents as well as the Amendments that transformed the Constitution.

March 10, 2017

As the Senate considers confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the American people are entitled to know whether, as the business community is expecting, a Justice Gorsuch would be another reliable vote in favor of corporate America and against the rights and interests of workers, consumers, and other less powerful individuals.

October 20, 2016

In 2008, the nation was plunged into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and in response, lawmakers established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since the CFPB's creation, opponents of financial regulation have sought to weaken its ability to protect the interests of consumers through both legislation and litigation. This White Paper provides background on the CFPB and then explains why the legal arguments against its constitutionality are all without merit.

September 14, 2016

This election season has witnessed a string of huge court victories vindicating the right to vote and invalidating down restrictive voting laws—many passed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder striking down a core part of the Voting Rights Act. This issue brief examines recent voting rights cases and core themes of the new voting rights jurisprudence.

May 21, 2016

This Supreme Court Term marks the first Term in decades in which the Court will be without a full complement of nine Justices for almost half the Term. This analysis, produced by Constitutional Accountability Center and People for the American Way Foundation, reviews the harmful effects of the continuing vacancy on the Court, both in the current Term and the upcoming Term as well as in historical context.

May 11, 2016

The purpose of this Special Report is to provide analysis and background that will enable broader understanding of the multi-front efforts by conservatives to narrow access to the courts, their origins, purposes, provisions, and effects, so as to inform and strengthen advocacy across all these arenas.

September 17, 2015

The first ten years of John Roberts’s tenure as Chief Justice saw many significant cases, from same-sex marriage to abortion to affirmative action. By looking at what the Chief Justice has done a decade in, we hope to be able to offer some fresh insights into whether Chief Justice Roberts has lived up to the promises made by Judge John Roberts at his confirmation hearings.  

January 13, 2015

In this issue brief, we argue for the left and the right to unite behind at least one core goal of campaign finance reform—encouraging more people to participate in our political process by donating money to a candidate of their choice. The issue brief makes the case for a new federal tax credit of up to $200 to individuals who make a contribution to a candidate or party, which would encourage more people to participate in the political process and broaden the base of financial support for candidates.

October 1, 2014

With the Supreme Court poised to consider the review of marriage equality rulings by lower courts around the country, opponents of marriage equality have radically changed the thrust of their defense, and are now pressing a federalism/democracy argument, claiming that the people of a state have the authority to decide whether to place a badge of inferiority on same-sex couples and deny them the right to marry. As documented in this Issue Brief, this argument, which flies in the face of the Constitution’s text and history, is no more viable than prior arguments.