The OPIA Blog

A Liberal Take on the Constitution

In an arena long dominated by conservative judges and thinkers, liberals have started to make the case for a more progressive interpretation of the Constitution. On June 3, the DC-based Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) became the first major think tank and public interest law firm dedicated to advancing a liberal agenda on strict Constitutional grounds. At the heart of this new venture is the belief that the Constitution’s text and history are “on the progressive side.” Douglas Kendall, the firm’s founder, hopes to be able to establish a systematic and sound legal support for progressive ideas. Among the first issues the CAC will tackle is the essentially federalist argument that states should have greater autonomy to experiment with new environmental protections.

For nearly three decades, conservatives have positioned themselves as the defenders of the Constitution, rooting their arguments in the principles of “originalism” or “textualism.” Lisa Brown, executive director of the left-leaning American Constitution Society, has lauded the CAC as a much-needed liberal voice in a largely conservative chorus. Speaking on the Constitutional discourse in America, she asserted, “It’s absolutely time to reclaim this debate.” Conservatives, for their part, have also welcomed the new organization as a constructive way to increase serious debate about constitutional interpretation. To read the full article, click here.