This brief dives into the basics of campaign finance, specifically the key terminology and debates surrounding campaign spending; the types of political organizations that raise and spend money in the political process; laws and court cases that have shaped campaign finance; and helpful information to know before you donate.
What is civic engagement? Why is it important and how can you become more involved in your community? In this brief, we seek to provide a deeper understanding of the importance of Americans’ participation in civic life. We’ll also explain how The Policy Circle helps to build social capital, a crucial element of society strongly related to civic duty, and how you can become a more engaged citizen.
Election Processes & Innovations
In a democracy, the government derives authority from the consent of the electorate. Holding elections and exercising the right to vote are essential to democracy. Many laws and rules govern the people and resources involved in campaigns and voting to make sure elections are competitive and inclusive. This brief will focus on election basics and ways to ensure free, fair, and secure elections.
What is free speech? What are the limits to free speech? How does free speech play out on university campuses and on social media platforms? This brief discusses freedom of speech as provided in the First Amendment of the Constitution, why it is important in a democracy, court decisions that have limited and/or expanded these freedoms over time, and the challenges of supporting freedom of speech while also promoting safety and security of the nation and its citizens.
Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch and designates U.S. Congress shall have the power to establish district courts and courts of appeal. Once these courts are established, they require judges to conduct courtroom proceedings. Judges adjudicate legal cases, but how are judges selected and appointed?
Strategic Giving and Civic Engagement
We are known and remembered for how we give our time, talent, and treasures. This brief allows you to reflect on how you give, better define your values and goals, and boost your understanding of the opportunities and challenges in philanthropy. The brief highlights the role strategic giving plays in civic engagement and rejuvenating civic life in America.
The Active Voter Guide
Your voice and your vote matter. Our elections depend upon participation by the electorate, including you. There are many ways to educate yourself and others and engage in the political process. This resource guide walks you through the components of being an active voter or volunteer: how to register, research a candidate, develop an assessment scorecard, and get involved by becoming a volunteer.
The Decennial Census
Have you ever considered where funding for emergency response services come from? Or how hospital locations are determined? Data from the decennial census can play a part in both. Why does the nation need to make this count every ten years? What other information does the Census tell us? How does it affect individuals, communities, businesses, and government?
The Electoral College
The U.S. Constitution clearly specifies that the President by elected by the Electoral College. How exactly does this system work? Why was it originally put in place, and why in recent years has it been at the center of debates on election reform?
The Executive Branch
The executive branch of the U.S. carries out and enforces laws. Some roles, namely the President and Vice President, are well known. Most Americans are less familiar with the responsibilities of other entities, from the Cabinet’s fifteen executive department heads to the expansive number of federal agencies known by an alphabet soup of acronyms. This brief is designed to explain the structure, roles, and responsibilities of the executive branch.
The Judicial Branch
The U.S. judicial branch decides the constitutionality of laws and resolves disputes regarding the law. Most Americans are aware of the U.S. Supreme Court, but not many are familiar with other parts of the judicial branch at the federal and state levels. This Policy Brief is designed to explain the structure, role, and responsibilities of this vitally important branch of government.
The Constitution has been deeply debated since before its inception, and these debates continue today. If this democracy (i.e. constitutional republic) is going to work we all have to be active, educated players in the debate. To do so, knowing the origins and basics of the Constitution is essential. How did the founders develop the Constitution, and what does it cover? Who does it govern and how? What is its meaning today, and how does this relate to debates occurring in today’s courts and civil society?