By Fixing Congress, the Planned H.R. 1 Could Strengthen Public Protections, Too

by James Goodwin | December 13, 2018

Not long after their party regained control of the lower chamber in the midterm elections, House Democratic leaders unveiled their signature legislative action for the next Congress – a package of reform measures aimed at tackling some of the worst ethics abuses involving the Trump administration's top officials and members of Congress. Symbolically assigned the designation of H.R. 1 to underscore its status as the top legislative priority, the bill would do more than just restore the integrity of our key democratic institutions; it could also serve as a crucial first step toward strengthening our system of regulatory safeguards.

Though the actual language of H.R. 1 has not been released, the bill is expected to consist of three sections. First, it would introduce a number of ethics reforms aimed at high-ranking executive branch officials and members of Congress, including requiring presidential candidates to disclose their taxes and banning lawmakers from serving on for-profit corporate boards. Second, it would bring much-needed changes to campaign finance to limit the influence of corporate money. The most notable provision would seek to amplify the impact of small donations to candidates by using public funds to match them six to one. Third, the bill would seek to increase public access to the voting booth by, among other things, limiting abusive state voter ID requirements and establishing automatic registration for most of the voting-age public.

Taken together, these provisions could fundamentally recalibrate ...

Legal Scholars File Brief Supporting National Monuments Case against Trump

by Sarah Krakoff | November 26, 2018
In 2017, President Trump signed a proclamation reducing by about 85 percent the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, a large landscape of pristine red rock canyons and culturally and historically significant Native American sites. He claimed that he had the authority to shrink this and any other national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and had previously ordered the Department of the Interior to review additional monuments whose designations stretch back decades. But does federal law really ...

Farm Bill 2018 -- Where Are We Going Post-Midterms?

by Laurie Ristino | November 16, 2018
The midterm elections are over, and most of the races have been decided. The outcome will have consequences for a wide variety of policies and legislation, including the 2018 Farm Bill. So what's the status of the bill? What are its prospects for passage during what remains of the 115th Congress? And how will the current and near-future political landscape impact the legislation's conservation provisions? To answer these questions and more, I moderated a recent Center for Progressive Reform webinar ...

Environmental Justice and Environmental Sustainability: Beyond Environment and Beyond Law

by Sarah Krakoff | November 14, 2018
This post is part of a series of essays from the Environmental Law Collaborative on the theme "Environmental Law. Disrupted." It was originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog. Since the dawn of the environmental justice movement, we have heard the stories of individuals and communities left unprotected by our environmental laws and policies. Their stories reveal the deep-seated structures of racism and inequality that determine what resources and which people environmental law will protect. Despite risks to the cultural ...

Warren's Bill Presents Progressive Vision for Rulemaking Reform

by James Goodwin | November 08, 2018
Originally published in The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission. By even cost-benefit analysis — the most biased metric — regulations are improving America, producing benefits that exceed costs by a ratio of as much as 12-to-1, according to the most recent figures from the Trump Administration. Of course, those numbers barely scratch the surface of what regulations actually "do." Thanks in part to the Clean Air Act, for example, the median concentration of lead in the blood of children between one ...

For Parents of Rape Survivors, OIRA's 'Open Door' to Nowhere

by James Goodwin | November 06, 2018
The meeting logs for the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – the small but powerful bureau that oversees federal rulemaking efforts on behalf of the president – have looked a little different in recent weeks. As usual, they are graced by high-priced corporate lobbyists and attorneys from white-shoe law firms, along with a smattering of activists from public interest organizations. But also signing in have been nearly a dozen ordinary Americans, representing only themselves, and they've ...

The Hill Op-Ed: As Hurricanes Expose Inequalities, Civil Courts May Be 'Great Equalizer'

by Martha T. McCluskey | October 18, 2018
This op-ed originally ran in The Hill.  While hurricanes like Florence are technically “natural” disasters, the Carolinas are experiencing the ways that the distinctly human-made problems of social and economic inequality reinforce and aggravate storm damage. Exhibit A is the catastrophic breaches and spills from the enormous manure “lagoons” located on North Carolina’s many factory-scale hog farms. In the industry, these farms are known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, but nobody with a nose passing within a few miles ...

The Major Rules Doctrine -- A 'Judge-Empowering Proposition'

by Rena Steinzor | October 11, 2018
This post was originally published as part of a symposium on ACSblog, the blog of the American Constitution Society. Reprinted with permission. Now that they have a fifth vote, conservative justices will march to the front lines in the intensifying war on regulation. What will their strategy be? Two tactics are likely, one long-standing and one relatively new. Both have the advantage of avoiding the outright repudiation of Chevron v. NRDC, 467 U.S. 837 (1984), although, as a practical matter, ...

Taming White House Review of Federal Agency Regulations

by Lisa Heinzerling | October 11, 2018
This post was originally published as part of a symposium on ACSblog, the blog of the American Constitution Society. Reprinted with permission. Presidents since Ronald Reagan have, by executive order, required agencies to submit significant regulatory actions to the White House for review. Academic and public interest observers have variously criticized this review as slow, opaque, chaotic, lawless, and power-grabbing. Yet every president in the intervening years has not only embraced but also deepened the control of the White House ...

Progressive Regulatory Reform

by Daniel Farber | October 08, 2018
This post was originally published as part of a symposium on ACSblog, the blog of the American Constitution Society. Reprinted with permission. Until recently, you could be a very well-informed American – a lawyer, even – without ever having heard of the Chevron doctrine. That has changed enough that last month, The New Yorker had a "Talk of the Town" essay discussing Kavanaugh's views of the Chevron doctrine. The reason for the attention to Chevron is ultimately congressional deadlock, which ...

Executive Order 12866 Is Basically Dead, and the Trump Administration Basically Killed It

by James Goodwin | October 01, 2018
Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 12866, but it was hardly a happy occasion. For all intents and purposes, though, the order, which governs the process by which federal agencies develop regulations under the supervision of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is dead. Despite all the glowing praise over the years and all the exaltations of its supposed durability, its health had been in decline for several years. It was ...

Knick v. Township of Scott: Takings Advocates' Nonsensical Forum Shopping Agenda

by John Echeverria | September 28, 2018
On Wednesday, October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Knick v. Township of Scott. The case poses the question of whether property owners suing state or local governments under the Takings Clause are required to pursue their claims in state court (or through other state compensation procedures) rather than in federal court, at least if the state has established a fair and adequate procedure for awarding compensation if a taking has in fact occurred. The Knick ...

New Report: A Fair Economy Requires Access to the Courts

by James Goodwin | September 26, 2018
The confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh offered Americans a contemporary reminder of what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind when it comes to protecting many of our fundamental rights and liberties. When it came to individual access to civil courts, a right guaranteed in the Seventh Amendment, they couldn't have been clearer. No less than James Madison put the value of that guarantee in stark terms: "Trial by jury [in civil cases]," he said, "is as essential to ...

Draining Washington of Science and Talent

by Laurie Ristino | September 20, 2018
Donald Trump has, in a sense, made good on his promise to "drain" Washington, D.C. – but not in the way many people probably thought he would. The exodus from our nation's capital has been made up of the scientists, diplomats, and policy experts that a democracy needs to function, not the high-powered, special interest lobbyists voters likely had in mind. Meanwhile, a raft of grifters has gleefully taken a temporary perch in the executive branch. The ensuing debacles, scandals, ...

CPR Member Scholars and Staff Express Support for Sen. Warren's Anti-Corruption Bill

by James Goodwin | September 06, 2018
Today, 18 CPR Member Scholars and staff sent a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren expressing their support for her recently introduced bill, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, in particular its provisions to reform the regulatory system so that it works for all Americans. These provisions are just one component of the bill’s comprehensive effort aimed at restoring the principles of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” to our policymaking institutions by ridding them of ...

From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery

by Sidney Shapiro | September 05, 2018
This is the first in a series of posts from CPR's new From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report and provides a preview of the preface and executive summary. From September 6-26, CPR will post a new chapter from the report each weekday on CPRBlog. The full report, including a downloadable PDF, will also be available on CPR's website. Preface: An Ounce of Prevention The story is now familiar. An area of the United States is battered by ...

The Socratic Method: CPR Legal Scholars Test Kavanaugh

by Matt Shudtz | September 04, 2018
Today, D.C. Circuit Court Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begins his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the disturbing lack of transparency around his service to the country during the George W. Bush administration, the show will go on. We asked CPR's Member Scholars and staff what they would ask Judge Kavanaugh if they had the opportunity. Here are some highlights: You Can't Put a Price on Everything Ask a parent what they would pay to ...

The Hill Op-Ed: Brett Kavanaugh's Opportunistic Corner Cutting

by Rena Steinzor | August 30, 2018
This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. Tens of thousands of thoughtful — and not so thoughtful — words have been written about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s substantive positions on issues the court will face. At least one question has not been addressed, however: Is Judge Brett Kavanaugh so ideological about certain topics that he veers toward sloppiness? As a law professor, I spend a lot of time around first-year law students, introducing them to the professional standards that ...

Good Government

For democratic government to function properly, the people need to know what their government is doing in their name. That demands both transparency and honesty from government officials and agencies. In recent years, however, some in government have worked to shield their work from public inspection, and not just where national security is concerned.

Recommended Resources:
Regulatory Policy
Assault on Our Safeguards

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