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The Brennan Center is fighting to renew America’s longstanding commitment to the rule of law and ensure that government officials serve the public interest.

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Why It Matters

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion laid bare many long­stand­ing vulner­ab­il­it­ies and oppor­tun­it­ies for abuse of power in our system of governance. Unchecked pres­id­en­tial conflicts of interest, inter­fer­ence from the White House in cases at the Justice Depart­ment, polit­ic­ally motiv­ated meddling in scientific research at envir­on­mental and public health agen­cies, and the subver­sion of the confirm­a­tion process for polit­ical appointees are among the abuses we have cata­logued across pres­id­en­tial admin­is­tra­tions.

In almost every case, the only safe­guards against these abuses are unwrit­ten rules. Now is the time to rein­force these guard­rails and restore public trust in govern­ment. To that end, the Bren­nan Center convened a task force of former senior govern­ment offi­­cials who have served in both Repub­lican and Demo­cratic pres­id­en­tial admin­is­tra­tions to advise on a compre­hens­ive agenda for legis­lat­ive action to uphold the rule of law. The task force’s report call­ing for robust exec­ut­ive action to ensure that govern­ment offi­cials serve the public interest.


Estab­lish Durable Safe­guards to Uphold the Rule of Law

Congress should pass the key reforms in the Protect­ing Our Demo­cracy Act. These would be import­ant steps toward prevent­ing pres­id­ents and other exec­ut­ive branch offi­cials from abus­ing their power by making it possible to enforce the Consti­tu­tion’s emolu­ments clauses, making it more diffi­cult for the White House to inter­fere in federal law enforce­ment at the Depart­ment of Justice, and bring­ing much-needed trans­par­ency to the pres­id­en­tial pardon process.

Modern­ize Ethics Rules

Congress should pass compre­hens­ive ethics reforms to, among other things, improve ethics disclos­ure rules (includ­ing requir­ing pres­id­en­tial tax return disclos­ure) and strengthen the Office of Govern­ment Ethics.

Stop Politi­ciz­a­tion of Science in the Poli­cy­mak­ing Process

Congress should pass the Scientific Integ­rity Act, which would mandate crucial across-the-board scientific integ­rity stand­ards and require agen­cies to have appro­pri­ate rules, proced­ures, and safe­guards in place to ensure sound science-based poli­cy­mak­ing.

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