The MacArthur Foundation recently named NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice as one of nine organizations to receive grants “to support information sharing and research on the role of money in politics and efforts to improve election administration.” The center’s Democracy Program will receive $60,000 as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s initiative to strengthen American Democracy.

This is the second major grant from the MacArthur Foundation for the Democracy Program in as many years; in 2012, the Democracy Program received a $500,000 grant, awarded over a two-year duration. “We are tremendously grateful for the MacArthur Foundation’s partnership, both in our research and our other work to benefit American Democracy,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program. “It’s been great, not just for the Brennan Center, but also for the issue [of promoting American Democracy] more broadly, and we’re just thrilled that they’ve entered into the field.”

The Democracy Program's research focuses on issues such as voting reform, campaign financing, congressional gridlock, and judicial appointments. The program is particularly focusing on two upcoming Supreme Court cases: McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which looks at the limits of campaign contributions, and National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, which looks at the president’s recess-appointment power. The center has already filed amicus curiae briefs in both cases (find the brief for McCutcheon here and for Noel Canning here), and Weiser indicated that the center plans to carry out further research into the problems reflected in these cases.

“This is a time when Americans are very concerned with what is seen as extreme dysfunction in their public institutions,” Weiser said, referencing in particular the recent government shutdown, as well as the congressional gridlock over presidential appointments. “We need clear, non-partisan research into what is going on, as well as non-partisan solutions.”

Posted on November 8, 2013