March 3, 2021

The Guardrails of Democracy Project

The last few years have been a warning shot across America’s bow. They’ve tested our democratic institutions to their limits, and in some cases beyond those limits. And we’ve learned some valuable lessons.

First, there’s a lot of deferred maintenance in our system of checks and balances. We’ve been too complacent for too long. Too many things have been taken for granted and too many powers transferred from congress to the executive with the informal understanding that the president will exercise those powers only with the utmost gravitas and responsibility.

Second, if we’ve learned nothing else, it is that well-thought-out laws are important and that it is unwise to rely on the goodwill, civic-mindedness and political courage of our politicians to fill the gaps. A disturbing number of the guardrails of democracy are simply norms that depend on people acting in good faith.

We are a group of conservative, often Republican, lawyers who have grown increasingly concerned about the health of our institutions. We have identified dozens of areas where the guardrails of democracy need shoring up. None of them are in any way partisan. Rather, they are all things that anyone concerned about our democratic institutions would want to look at closely whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive.

Our goal is to identify and push for the adoption of reforms designed to re-invigorate and secure our existing system of checks and balances.