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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.

The Selective Originalism of Judge Neil Gorsuch: A Review of the Record
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.

Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch: Expected by Big Business to be Another Reliable Vote on the Roberts Court
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.

Protecting the Ballot for All: How Federal Courts Have Vindicated the Constitution and Prevented Voter Suppression by the State
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.

Material Harm to Our System of Justice
May 31, 2016

This Supreme Court Term marks the first Term since the end of World War II 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.

Tilting the Scales Of Justice: Conservatives’ Multi-Front Assault on Access to the Courts
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.

Roberts at 10
September 17, 2015

The first nine years of John Roberts’s tenure as Chief Justice have seen many significant cases, and from same-sex marriage to abortion to affirmative action, others loom on the horizon. By looking at what the Chief Justice has done in the past, as well as what he does this Term, 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.  

Participation and Campaign Finance: The Case for a Tax Credit
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.

Can Corporations Pray?
October 21, 2013

In the 225 years since the ratification of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has never held that secular, for-profit corporations are entitled to the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion. As we explain more fully in this issue brief, it should not do so now.

A Tale of Two Courts: Comparing Corporate Rulings by the Roberts and Burger Courts
January 21, 2012

In October 2010, CAC released a study to answer a question raised by, among others, Justice Stephen Breyer, about whether the success of the Chamber of Commerce in Supreme Court cases is a new development. We decided to compare the success of the Chamber in the Roberts Court to its success in the five Terms before Justice Scalia joined the Court in 1986, a comparable period of stable Court membership that was bookended by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor joining the Court in 1981. 

Born Under the Constitution: Why Recent Attacks on Birthright Citizenship are Unfounded
January 19, 2012

On March 31, 2011, CAC's Chief Counsel Elizabeth Wydra released an Issue Brief distributed by the American Constitution Society on the Citizenship Clause’s guarantee of constitutional citizenship, rebutting attacks on this critical component of the 14th Amendment. The issue brief explains that a close study of the text and history of the Citizenship Clause demonstrates that birthright citizenship is guaranteed to every person born on U.S. soil and subject to its jurisdiction, regardless of the immigration status of the child's parents.

Open for Business: Tracking the Chamber of Commerce's Supreme Court Success Rate from the Burger Court through the Rehnquist Court and into the Roberts Court
January 19, 2012

In December 2010, CAC released an empirical study examining the success of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before the Supreme Court during the last 11 years of the tenure of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.