Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.

 

Recent Articles

Releasing Citizenship Data Threatens Representative Democracy

democracy_rules.jpg The Trump administration’s plan to release citizenship data via the census invites red states to take partisan gerrymandering to new extremes, and sets the stage for a high-stakes legal battle over who deserves democratic representation in the United States. More than a dozen red states have already signaled interest in drawing district lines based on the voter-eligible population of citizens, instead of on total population. Mapping districts around citizens alone would politically advantage Republicans, marginalize immigrants and children , reverse longstanding practice, and raise constitutional questions about the meaning of “ one person, one vote .” “This is part and parcel of an epic power struggle that is taking place in a demographically changing America,” says Michael Li, senior redistricting counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. Voting rights advocates say districting based only...

For an Accurate Census, Look to the Grassroots

democracy_rules.jpg Now that President Donald Trump has backed away from adding a citizenship question to the census, the real action moves to a lesser-noticed battle playing out on the ground. That’s where an unprecedented coalition of national, local, and community groups is mobilizing to ensure that the decennial census counts all U.S. residents, citizens or not. Spearheaded by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the effort has drawn together more than 150 partners , from national civil rights groups to librarians, faith leaders, and health-care workers. Major philanthropic donors, including the Ford, Kellogg, and Open Society Foundations, have kicked in more than $50 million . “This effort in 2020 is unprecedented in the scope and the number of groups looking to reach communities across the country,” says Beth Lynk, director of the Census Counts campaign led by the Leadership Conference Education Fund. National partners include the Asian...

How’s This for a Radical Campaign-Finance Proposal? Follow the Existing Rules.

democracy_rules.jpg To beat Donald Trump in 2020, the democratic presidential nominee will have to solve a familiar progressive puzzle: how to win over voters who hate big political money without unilaterally disarming against a well-funded opponent. So far, no leading Democrat has figured out how to make the pieces fit. While the party’s primary candidates have scrambled to outdo one another in “purity” pledges, from rejecting corporate PAC money to returning lobbyists’ donations, such promises are largely symbolic. Only a fraction of campaign receipts come from corporate PACs, and that money is fully disclosed and subject to strict limits in any case. As for lobbyists, so many operate outside the disclosure rules that any “ban” contains a giant loophole. The bigger money—and the bigger threat to democracy—comes from ill-regulated, billionaire-backed groups like super PACs, secretive nonprofits, and candidate-party joint fundraising...

To Reassert Its Lost Power, Congress Must Join the 21st Century

democracy_rules.jpg As Congress struggles to regain its place as the first (or even a coequal) branch of government, public attention has centered on the House committees issuing contempt citations to seek court enforcement of their Trump administration subpoenas. But a little-noticed special committee toiling quietly out of the limelight might stand the best chance of helping Congress seize back some of the power it has ceded to the executive branch. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, set up in January as part of a deal between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House moderates, is tackling an unglamorous but crucial question: How can Congress update its outmoded rules and infrastructure, and start to function again? It’s no simple task. The committee’s easiest and most obvious first step, as journalist and scholar Lee Drutman has argued, would be to “give Congress its brain” back by investing in support agencies like the Congressional Research...

Voter Registration Is Surging—So Republicans Want to Criminalize It

democracy_rules.jpg The new face of voter suppression is also the oldest Jim Crow tactic on the books: Block voters from getting on the rolls to begin with. In the wake of a midterm that saw surging turnout by non-white, young, and urban voters—all blocs that tend to favor Democrats—a backlash in GOP state legislatures was perhaps inevitable. What troubles voting rights advocates is that Republicans have now set out to penalize not just voters but the groups trying to register them, in some cases with astronomical fines and jail time that effectively criminalize civic engagement. The most extreme example is a law newly enacted in Tennessee that imposes civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $10,000 or more and close to a year in jail, on organizers who submit incomplete registration forms, fail to participate in state-mandated trainings, or fail to submit forms within a ten-day window. The law violates both the First and the 14th Amendments, say civil...

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