American Constitution Society

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American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
American Constitution Society Logo
Formation 2001[1]
Type Legal
Purpose To promote individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law.[2]
Caroline Fredrickson

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) is a progressive legal organization. The group's stated mission is to "promote the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law."[2]

ACS was created as a counterweight to, and is modeled after, the Federalist Society, and is often described as its progressive counterpart.[3][4][5][6][7]

Founded in 2001, ACS is headquartered in Washington, D.C.[1] The organization promotes and facilitates discussion and debate of progressive public policy ideas and issues, providing forums for legal scholars, lawmakers, judges, lawyers, public policy advocates, law students and members of the media. ACS reports that it has approximately 200 law school student chapters and 40 lawyer chapters around the country.[8]


The American Constitution Society was founded in 2001 by Peter Rubin, a Georgetown Law School professor who served as counsel to Al Gore in the legal battle over the 2000 election. The group was originally known as the Madison Society for Law and Policy. The organization was formed as a counterweight to the conservative Federalist Society. It was founded in order to build a network of progressive lawyers and foster new avenues of progressive legal thought.[1][9] ACS received its initial funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.[1][10] The Democracy Alliance lists ACS as a recommended funding recipient.[11][12]

Board of directors[edit]

Members of the organization's board of directors have included David Halperin, a speechwriter in the Bill Clinton administration; and Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States.[1][10]


ACS hosts press and Capitol Hill briefings and public policy debates as well as an annual convention where an array of legal and public policy issues are discussed and debated.

The organization disseminates ACS Issue Briefs, the ACSBlog, a journal titled Harvard Law and Policy Review, and Advance: The Journal of the ACS Issue Groups.

In 2008, ACS's executive director, Lisa Brown, went on leave to serve on the Barack Obama transition team. She headed the president-elect's agency review team and later served as the first White House Staff Secretary in the Obama White House.[13]

In 2009, ACS published Keeping Faith with the Constitution by Pamela S. Karlan, Goodwin Liu and Christopher H. Schroeder. It was re-issued by Oxford University Press in 2010. The book serves as a primer for progressives interested in promoting liberal constitutionalism.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Savage, Charlie (December 10, 2008). "Liberal Legal Group Is Following New Administration’s Path to Power". New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Mission". American Constitution Society. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Michael McGough, Supreme Court nomination battle spotlights legal societies and their divergent views: Newer American Constitution Society modeled on more conservative Federalist Society (August 14, 2005), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  4. ^ Jonathan H. Adler, FedSoc v. ACS (June 19, 2010). Volokh Conspiracy.
  5. ^ Leslie A. Gordon, Left Turn Permitted (May 1, 2011), ABA Journal.
  6. ^ Stephanie Mencimer, The Tea Party Wants to Teach Your Kids About the Constitution (May 12, 2011). Mother Jones.
  7. ^ Douglas W. Kmiec, Let Dawn Do It (April 13, 2009). Legal Times.
  8. ^ "Chapters". American Constitution Society. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Fletcher, Michael (December 7, 2008). "Legal Organization May Become Influential Beyond Its Dreams". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Nix Hines, Crystal (June 1, 2001). "Young Liberal Law Group Is Expanding". New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Prokop, Andrew (November 24, 2014). "The Democracy Alliance: How a secretive group of donors helps set the progressive agenda". Vox. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Gold, Matea (September 8, 2014). "New Koch offensive puts spotlight on Democracy Alliance". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Jeffrey, Jeff (November 17, 2008). "Critical moment for liberal law group" (PDF). Legal Times. 
  14. ^ "Keeping Faith with the Constitution". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 

External links[edit]