The Head and Heart of Elena Kagan

President Obama’s selection of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens was hardly a surprise. It was a well known fact that the President’s personal regard and respect for Kagan has been deep and longstanding. But as the carefully orchestrated minuet that will...

A Female Trinity:

Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan on the U.S. Supreme Court

For the past two decades I have taught at Sweet Briar, a liberal arts college for women in central Virginia. Faddish theories about gender-based education have come and gone during those same twenty years, but one constant remains. The undergraduates in my constitutional law classes adore meeting women Supreme Court...

UK Leaders’ Debate Debut

Which Party Leader's Leading?

The following piece was written in the hour after the historic April 15 leaders' debate in the UK and published by the Guardian the next day. From an American perspective, there was a clear winner in the first-ever UK party leaders debate, the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg. He looked sharp,...

Justice John Paul Stevens’ Supreme Court Odyssey

From Gerald Ford Republican to Barack Obama Democrat

During my first meeting with Justice John Paul Stevens in his Supreme Court chambers back in 1985, he impressed me with his charming modesty, Midwestern common sense, keen intellect, and judicial temperament. All of these traits, which he applied so skillfully to this work on the Court over the last...

Obama’s Nominee: A Cloudy Crystal Ball

While nobody was surprised when Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he was leaving the Supreme Court just a few days before his 90th birthday, many had hoped he would hold off until after the midterm elections. Just a few short weeks after the bruising congressional fight over health reform...

Reforming the Least Democratic Branch

The U.S. Supreme Court is neither democratic nor easily changed, to some Americans’ delight and others’ dismay. No one would seriously propose that we elect Justices—just take a look at the tawdry contests in states that put their supreme courts and various judicial posts on the ballot. But is the...

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING REPUBLICAN BASE

Societal trends reshaping the American electorate

Discussions of the current political situation and comparisons between the 2008 election and earlier contests frequently overlook a crucial fact. As a result of changes in American society, today's electorate is very different from the electorate of twenty, thirty, or forty years ago. Three long-term trends have been especially significant...

ANOTHER PART OF THE BUSH LEGACY IN QUESTION?

Party-building success through the lens of history

During his first term, George W. Bush was arguably the most successful party-building president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Like FDR, who fashioned a Democratic coalition that dominated American politics for a generation, Bush during his first four years in office helped the Republicans post gains in Congress and around the...

NOTES ON THE STATE OF POLITICS

Election '07, Colbert, Congress and Beyond!

We've been away for a while, traveling America discussing our new book, A More Perfect Constitution. The opportunity to discuss the U.S. Constitution--and what might be done to improve it--has been a special one, and I thank the thousands of people who have attended lectures and come to book-signings and...

UNIVERSAL NATIONAL SERVICE

The Case for a Constitution "Bill of Responsibilities"

Over the past few weeks, I've learned that almost everyone takes some time to absorb new ideas, especially a big one like a second Constitutional Convention. The hidebound nature of humanity, and the deep polarization that currently exists in American society, make most people inherently suspicious of any novel proposal....

WRAPPING UP THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

Non-partisan Discussion Explores Potential Reforms

On Friday, October 19, 2007 the Center for Politics hosted the National Constitutional Convention at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. With nearly 500 registered participants, the day-long event featured discussion and analysis of constitutional reform from some of the top government officials, academics, politicians, legal scholars and members of...

A MISSING CONSTITUTIONAL LINK?

Politics and Its Place in Our Governing Document

Many would argue that, in many respects, today's political system is broken, and there is currently no reasonable prospect of fixing it. Our schedule of presidential primaries and caucuses is a mess, giving too much power to an unrepresentative few with undue influence over the party nominees. Because it would...

PERFECTING THE PRESIDENCY

Ideas for Terms, War-making Powers and More

Last week the Crystal Ball looked at potential constitutional changes aimed at building on the Founders' congressional model and improving the nation's legislative body to make it more representative, more responsive and its elections more competitive. Naturally, the next step is to examine the office of the Chief Executive. The...