A Fresh Start for a New Administration: Reforming Law and Justice Policies


No matter who wins the 2008 Presidential election, one thing is certain: on January 20, 2009, a new President will be sworn into office. The inauguration of the Forty-Fourth President and the installation of a new Administration will bring an opportunity for a fresh evaluation of federal law and policy in every area. It is therefore important and timely to offer ideas and recommendations for a new Administration to consider as it undertakes this important task.

ACS is a network of lawyers, law students, legal scholars and others working to advance a progressive vision of the Constitution, law and public policy. Our mission is to promote the vitality of the Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law. The proposals that ACS members and supporters have contributed to this volume address issues at the core of that mission:

  • the role of the Department of Justice in areas ranging from civil rights enforcement to criminal justice to legal advice to the President;
  • liberty, security and the rule of law in the post-9/11 era;
  • environmental law and policy;
  • workplace fairness;
  • government transparency; and
  • the regulatory process.

In the papers included here, leading experts in these fields - past and present United States Senators, a former Attorney General and other high-ranking executive branch officials, distinguished scholars, and prominent advocates - offer their ideas for reforming federal law and policy. The views they offer are their own, as ACS takes no position on particular legal or policy initiatives.

ACS is pleased to offer this collection of thoughtful proposals in the hope that they will prompt lively discussion among policymakers, advocates and the public at large, and that they will receive careful attention from the next Administration when it takes office next year.

The Department of Justice

What Would Jackson Do? Some Old Advice for the New Attorney General?
By: Janet Reno, Geoffrey M. Klineberg

Restoring the Civil Rights Division
By: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

Restoring Public Confidence in the Fairness of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Function
By: James K. Robinson

All the President’s Lawyers: How to Avoid Another “Torture Opinion” Debacle
By: Dawn E. Johnsen

Reinventing the President’s Pardon Power
By: Margaret Colgate Love

Liberty and Security in the Post 9/11 Era

Homeland Security and the Upcoming Transition: What the Next Administration Should Do to Make Us Safe at Home
By: P.J. Crowley

Rehabilitating the U.S. Ban on Torture: A Call for Transparent Treatment Policy
By: Devon Chaffee

"A Hungry Child Knows No Politics:” A Proposal to Reform Laws Governing Relief and “Material Support” of Terrorism
By: Ahilan Arulanantham

Reforming the State Secrets Privilege
By: Amanda Frost, Justin Florence

The ID Divide: Addressing the Challenges of Identification and Authentication in American Society
By: Peter P. Swire, Cassandra Butts

National Intelligence and the Rule of Law
By: Deborah N. Pearlstein

Restoration, Education, and Coordination: Three Principles to Guide U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts Over the Next Five Years
By: Louise Richardson

Prosecuting Suspected Terrorists: The Role of Civilian Courts
By: Stephen J. Schulhofer

Engaging the Muslim World: How to Win the War of Ideas
By: Hady Amr, Peter W. Singer

The Environment

Running Aground: The Hidden Environmental and Regulatory Implications of Homeland Security
By: Mariano-Florentino Cuellar

The Environment and Natural Resources Division for the United States Department of Justice: Planning for the Transition to the Next Administration
By: Lois J. Schiffer, Richard Lazarus

A Way Forward on Climate Change
By: Timothy E. Wirth

Workplace Fairness

September Massacre: The Latest Battle in the War on Workers’ Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act
By: Anne Marie Lofaso

21st Century Tools for Advancing Equal Opportunity: Recommendations for the Next Administration
By: Cyrus Mehri, Ellen Eardley

Prosecuting Worker Endangerment: The Need for Stronger Criminal Penalties for Violations of the OSH Act
By: David Uhlmann

Government Transparency

On Secrecy and Transparency: Thoughts for Congress and a New Administration
By: Geoffrey R. Stone

The White House: Off Limits to Historians
By: Meredith Fuchs

The Regulatory Process

The Emerging Threat of Regulatory Preemption
By: David C. Vladeck

Reinvigorating the U.S. Office of Special Counsel: Suggestions for the Next Administration
By: Elaine Kaplan, Tim Hannapel

Letting Government Agencies Do What They Were Created To Do
By: Sally Katzen, Michael Fitzpatrick