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Pew Research Center;
The U.S. Supreme Court, which typically attracts only modest attention from the American public, is about to occupy the national spotlight with the possibility of a history-making change among the court's justices and a series of highly anticipated rulings on matters ranging from abortion to gun policy.The court enters this pivotal period with its public image as negative as it has been in many years, as Democrats – especially liberal Democrats – increasingly express unfavorable opinions of the court.In a national survey by Pew Research Center, 54% of U.S. adults say they have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court while 44% have an unfavorable view. The survey was conducted before Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the court and President Joe Biden reiterated his pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court to replace Breyer.Over the past three years, the share of adults with a favorable view of the court has declined 15 percentage points, according to the new survey, conducted Jan. 10-17 among 5,128 adults on the Center's American Trends Panel. Looking back further, current views of the court are among the least positive in surveys dating back nearly four decades.
National Immigration Forum;
With January 20, 2022 marking one full year in office for the Biden administration, this paper examines how it has done on three distinct pathways to protection for vulnerable migrants: Asylum at the border, refugee resettlement from overseas, and the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan allies before, during and after the U.S.'s withdrawal from Afghanistan. While the Biden administration has made significant progress in all three areas, it has often been unable to adhere to its initial, vocal commitments to protect the most vulnerable and has struggled to deliver on other elements of an ambitious immigration agenda. President Biden still has the opportunity to build on the progress he has made in his first year and put the country on track to creating better, more humane processes for those fleeing violence and persecution. To do so, his administration must prioritize its commitments to vulnerable migrants, fostering a political consensus around these issues and avoiding abrupt policy reversals.
Center for American Progress;
This issue brief aims to clarify how future elections are threatened and how public policy can address those threats. But it is important to clarify at the outset: There is no silver bullet. A large segment of the American public has decided they do not trust the electoral system—at least not when their favored candidate loses. Changing those hearts and minds is a long-term challenge that is going to require thoughtful, long-term solutions.In the meantime, however, policymakers ignore the short-term problem at their peril. Election officials might refuse to certify the next election. Bad actors might try to tamper with the results of the election—or prevent their opposition from voting—under the pretense of preventing fraud. And, even when the election is over and done, members of Congress might refuse to respect the Electoral College results.This issue brief explores each of these threats below, along with the ways that public policy can address them. Legislation alone is not going to restore faith in democracy, but it can strengthen the guardrails that—at least in the short run—keep democracy intact.
Bipartisan Policy Center;
This report outlines policy best practices for election observers and challengers. The set of recommendations is unanimously endorsed by the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Elections, a diverse group of state and local election officials from across the country. Election officials have the best perspective for how election policy works when put into practice. To secure the integrity of the 2022 and 2024 elections, we need look no further than the dedicated professionals long committed to our democracy.The recommendations made in this report stand to ensure accountability and transparency in the administration of elections. For maximum effectiveness, the recommendations should be considered as a unified set. Election administration is a complex ecosystem: Changes to one policy have upstream and downstream impacts for countless other parts of the process. This set of recommendations anticipates those impacts and works cohesively to address them.
American Enterprise Institute;
In 2008, AEI released a comprehensive Public Opinion Study on attitudes about the federal government from the earliest days of polling. This new study updates some of the major trends that appeared in the 2008 report. Today, because pollsters are less focused on updating old trends, many important questions in the earlier compilation have not been updated.Key PointsWhile the public is ambivalent about government, Americans generally favor a smaller government than a larger one. When taxes are included in the question wording, Americans favor smaller government more strongly.In the early days of COVID-19, many Americans said they wanted the government to do more.At the turn of the century, when the economy was performing well, around 10 percent said they were angry with the way the federal government works. Since 2010, two in 10 or more have given that response.Pollsters should regularly revisit public views about government's role, size, and responsibilities and public levels of satisfaction with it.
On February 24, Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a brutal invasion of Ukraine. This war, which has already displaced millions of people and menaced the lives of millions more, presents an existential challenge not just to Ukraine's sovereignty, but also to the liberal international order. It comes at the time when liberal democracy's star has faded across the 29 countries covered in Nations in Transit. This edition of the report, assessing the events of 2021 from Central Europe to Central Asia, marks the 18th consecutive year of democratic decline for the region as a whole.Putin's war is the latest and gravest expression of his thuggish and malignant influence on neighboring states. When free societies have resisted his efforts to warp their media and corrupt their politicians, he has threatened or actually used military force, as in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. When authoritarian incumbents have teetered in the face of popular demands for change, he has backstopped their regimes and deepened their dependence on Moscow, as in Belarus or more recently in Kazakhstan. But the stakes of the current conflict are even higher. If the Kremlin succeeds in subjugating a sovereign, democratic Ukraine, it will mark the first time that an authoritarian power has overthrown a freely elected national government in the region since the end of the Cold War. Even if the effort fails, it has already destabilized the Nations in Transit region, potentially accelerating the steady antidemocratic transformation that has taken place across Europe and Eurasia.
Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR);
After insurrectionists tried to overthrow the presidential election on January 6, 2021, small pieces of this puzzle started to emerge. Several state legislators took part in state-level efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 election. A state senator gave full-throated support to white nationalists. Forty-eight state and local officials, including ten sitting state lawmakers, were outed as members of the far-right paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers. These are but a few examples of far-right activism by state legislators.The depth of far-right activity in state legislatures is still largely unknown. The information to date is fragmented and far from a complete picture.This report changes that by bringing much-needed context to the national discussion. The IREHR research team reviewed the data of thousands of far-right groups on the Facebook platform and found deepening ties between far-right groups and state legislators.IREHR researchers identified 875 state legislators serving in the 2021-2022 legislative period and representing all 50 states who have joined at least one of 789 far-right Facebook groups. That is 11.85% of all state legislators in the country.Given the specific nature of the data used in this report and recognizing that not all far-right aligned legislators belong to Facebook groups, IREHR researchers believe the findings almost certainly understate the breadth of the problem.
This report underscores three existential threats facing U.S. elections: an exodus of election officials due to threats and harassment, the potential of election manipulation by partisan actors, and inadequate funding of our critical election infrastructure. It calls for federal action to address these troubling trends, including combatting election disinformation, preventing efforts to subvert future elections, increasing federal and state funding for elections, and protecting election workers from threats of violence.
American Enterprise Institute;
The Continuity of Government Commission was originally formed after 9/11 to address how our key institutions can reconstitute themselves after a catastrophic attack. A new version of the commission, including previous members and new ones, who have experience in all three branches of government, met in 2021 and 2022 to consider continuity-of-government issues in light of the recent pandemic and other developments. In this report, the commission issues its recommendations on the continuity of Congress.The core continuity problem for Congress is that if many members of the House of Representatives were killed in an attack or other catastrophe, the House would likely have no quorum and be unable to meet for months after the event. Unlike the Senate, the House can fill its vacancies only by special election, and those elections are likely to take months to conduct.The key recommendation is for a constitutional amendment to allow for temporary replacements to be appointed to fill the seats of deceased members until special elections are held to elect a permanent replacement. With immediate successors to fill the seats of deceased members of Congress, a Congress with nearly full representation could be reconstituted within days to work with the president to face the challenges of the present emergency.The commission makes several other recommendations that deal with other continuity-of-Congress issues:Creating a limited provision for allowing remote proceedings when members of Congress cannot meet in person in Washington,Allowing temporary replacement members to fill in for incapacitated members in the extreme case when deceased and incapacitated members number more than a majority of the House or Senate, andAdopting procedures to ensure that a new Congress could commence, perhaps even remotely, if a catastrophic emergency prevented the regular opening of a new Congress.
In 2022, it is no longer difficult to envision the downfall of American democracy. To a growing number of commentators and analysts, this demise almost feels inevitable. If "January 6 was practice" for an authoritarian takeover (as the headline of a December Atlantic article warned us), next time could be for real.This essay makes the case for resisting the prevailing pessimism. While the threats are obviously real, the prevailing zeitgeist of a downward spiral should, counter-intuitively, be seen as a sign for optimism. Before we can rebuild our democracy, we first have to acknowledge that it is, in fact, falling apart. And we are indeed starting to realize this―hence the pervasive panic, that repeated prerequisite for reform. This is why I am ultimately optimistic. And why you should be, too.In this essay, I will seek out some lessons from history that should inform our optimism. Though much is unique about our current impasse, much is also familiar. All democracies have ups and downs. American democracy has had ups and downs. We are in a "down." And some "downs" last a long time. But they never last forever. Thus, the first lesson of history―"the inevitability of course change"―is perhaps the most obvious. Each generation is a reaction to the previous generation.But if the first lesson of history seems obvious, we keep forgetting it. Thus, the second lesson is "the illusion of course continuation." That is, just as course change is inevitable, so is it almost equally inevitable that we forget this, and delude ourselves into thinking we have somehow escaped the broader patterns of history.Time and again, we mistakenly predict that we have reached some new stage that will somehow last for centuries (e.g., we are at the "End of x" or "This time is really different" or Yale economist Irving Fisher's September 1929 conclusion that "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau"). Time and again, we mistakenly make straight-line projections about markets or demographics or politics, assuming that whatever trends have led us to this moment, they will continue indefinitely. But they never do.
International Institute for Sustainable Development;
As the amount of compensation being awarded in investment tribunals rises, this report analyzes how it is calculated in other international courts and tribunals to help inform reform processes that seek to address the negative socio-economic impacts of investment treaties.In recent years, investor–state arbitral tribunals have awarded increasingly high amounts of compensation to foreign investors, which can exacerbate the negative impacts of investment treaties on people and the economy in host states. This paper contributes to discussions on how to address this issue by comparing approaches used to award compensation in investment tribunals with those used by some of the most active and/or high-profile international courts and tribunals in international private property claims cases.From this comparative analysis, the paper identifies the following options for states and other proponents to consider when considering investor–state dispute settlement reform:Crafting new treaty language that requires investor–state arbitral tribunals to apply a different standard of reparation to customary international law or provides greater guidance on how to put such standards of reparation into practice.Requiring investor–state arbitral tribunals to engage more with the decisions of domestic mechanisms regarding reparation for investment treaty breaches.Encouraging parties to seek agreement on matters of reparation, including through negotiated or mediated settlements following arbitral decisions on the merits.Encouraging—or requiring—greater use of tribunal-appointed experts to reduce reliance on party-appointed experts when calculating compensation for investment treaty breaches.
Bipartisan Policy Center;
The U.S.-China trade war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war have spurred upheaval and uncertainty in an increasingly interconnected global market. Product shortages and soaring prices are fixtures in national news headlines; American voters rate the economy as their top concern for the 2022 midterm elections. Supply chains won't only be on the ballot this November, they'll also shape how and when Americans get their ballots to begin with.Paper is foundational to American election administration. Yes, the paper needed for our beloved "I Voted" stickers—but also the paper that is used to create ballots, ballot envelopes, voter registration forms, and other essential elections collateral. Voter-verified paper ballots, the gold standard of secure elections, typically require high-quality paper types. Ballot materials demand specialized production, intentional delivery, and secure storage.Long-term trends, exacerbated by recent market factors, have put the supply of paper for the midterm elections at risk. Paper orders that once took days or weeks are now taking months. Costs have increased by 40% or more.This report by the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Elections outlines three challenges for election administration created by the global paper shortage: supply, timing, and cost. Within each category, the task force offers actionable recommendations for election officials and policymakers on how to administer secure elections amid supply chain disruptions both in 2022 and future elections.