Senior Legal Fellow and Deputy Director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

The Institute for Constitutional Government

A fierce and tireless champion of constitutional jurisprudence, Heritage’s Thomas Jipping staked out a near-constant media presence during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle.

Championing Constitutionalism and America’s First Principles

It was one of the ugliest confirmation battles in Senate history. But when Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh came under scurrilous attack from the Left, The Heritage Foundation had his back.

Certainly Heritage had standing in the fight. After all, we had brought him to the attention of candidate Donald Trump [and all other presidential candidates, for that matter] back in 2016. That’s when our Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies published a list of eight individuals—one of them Kavanaugh—eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

Our involvement was why Heritage President Kay Coles James, Vice President John Malcolm, and Emeritus Distinguished Fellow Ed Meese were all invited to Kavanaugh’s nomination ceremony (where President Trump led the room in applauding Meese’s decades of work promoting constitutional originalism).

At the time, no one knew how low the Left was prepared to go to derail the nomination. So our Meese Center went about its normal business, informing Capitol Hill about the man who would be Justice Kavanaugh.

Our legal scholars prepared over 75 articles analyzing his jurisprudence. They also hosted three panel discussions, all aired by C-SPAN, exploring his judicial philosophy, record on the bench, and more. One panel featured former Kavanaugh clerks, who spoke of his sterling character as a boss, mentor, and judge. That discussion proved most helpful, once the Left started slinging mud.

The center also organized a coalition of allies in the conservative legal movement to help keep the nomination moving forward. That proved difficult, however, when the confirmation hearings bogged down with disruptive protests and salacious, evidence-free accusations.

It was then that Thomas Jipping—the Meese Center’s deputy director—took off the kid gloves and, in a series of truth-telling columns, exposed the duplicity behind the politically-motivated attacks.

In all, Jipping penned more than 30 pieces for The Daily Signal and another 36 for media outlets such as USA Today, The Hill and National Review. He and his Meese Center colleagues also logged more than 200 radio and TV interviews on Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve.

With Kavanaugh finally confirmed, Jipping kept right on campaigning, writing column after column urging the Senate to fill the scores of remaining vacancies on the federal bench with defenders of the Constitution.

To help keep the pressure on, the Meese Center launched its Judicial Appointment Tracker, an online tool that tracks federal judicial vacancies, nominations and confirmations. Though far too many seats remain empty, much progress was made.

By year’s end, the Senate had confirmed 85 Trump nominees to lifetime appointments on federal district and appeals courts. It was, in the words of The Washington Post, a “deeply consequential” remaking of the entire federal judiciary.

Criminal Justice Reform

The Meese Center logged another victory at year’s end, when President Trump signed the First Step Act, the most significant criminal justice reform bill in a generation. And front row at the White House bill-signing ceremony were President Kay Coles James and Meese Center Director John Malcolm.

It was the culmination of years of work by Heritage researchers who examined successful reform initiatives in states like Georgia and Texas to identify programs and approaches that reduce persistently high recidivism rates while mitigating some of the unintended consequences of imposing harsh mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, non-violent offenses.

Under the new law, select programs proven to equip inmates with skills needed to become productive, law-abiding citizens will be offered to qualified federal prisoners eager to turn their lives around.

Yes, it’s about making our communities safer. But it’s about core principles, as well. Conservatives believe in justice and opportunity, and that’s what the First Step Act is about: making punishments fit crimes and helping people leave prison equipped to move on and flourish after they’ve paid their debt to society.

Meese Center Vital Stats, 2018

Moot courts hosted, helping conservative advocates hone oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court and, occasionally, lower federal appellate courts.
Amicus conferences organized to coordinate “friend-of-the-court” briefs for key Supreme Court cases.
Law review articles published.

The B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics

The Simon Center has emerged as a bastion of intellectual firepower within the conservative movement, thanks in no small measure to its analysts’ knack for applying the principles that animated the Founders to the issues of today.

Exhibit A: When academics Angel Jaramillo Torres and Marc Benjamin Sable resolved to make the first scholarly attempt to draw from the tradition of political philosophy to analyze the rise of Donald Trump, they made a beeline for the Simon Center.

The final product, a two-volume collection of essays on “Trump and Political Philosophy” published by Palgrave Macmillan, featured two contributions from Simon Center scholars: Trump and The Federalist on National Greatness in a Commercial Republic by Associate Director Arthur Milikh and Aristotle’s Account of Factional Conflict and the Rise of Donald Trump by Visiting Scholar Carson Holloway, Ph.D.

Michael Anton’s review for The Claremont Review of Books singled out Holloway’s contribution as the “best essay in the whole collection.”

Exhibit B: The latest book by Joseph Postell, our 2017-18 visiting fellow in American political thought. Midwest Book Review hailed his “Bureaucracy in America: The Administrative State’s Challenge to Constitutional Government” as “a definitive model of outstanding scholarship and a timely, much needed contribution to our contemporary national dialogue on political governance and policy making.”

It also garnered glowing reviews from both The Claremont Review of Books and the New York University Journal of Law & Liberty.

Heritage Congressional Fellowship Program

The Heritage Congressional Fellowship program concluded its 17th year of operation by graduating its largest class ever: 81 congressional staffers.

This year-long educational program, run jointly by the Simon Center and our Congressional and Executive Branch Relations team, is the only one of its kind on Capitol Hill, teaching First Principles, conservative policy and congressional procedure to junior-level Senate and House staff.

The curriculum features speakers from Heritage and other leading conservative organizations and includes a day-long inspirational/educational tour of Mount Vernon. The reviews indicate that participants find the program to be both intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding.

“I loved [it]: there is nothing else like it on the Hill,” wrote program graduate Charles Correll, a staff assistant within the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to teach us what we all need to know to be good staffers: conservative principles, the nuts and bolts of policy, and how Congress actually works.”

At the kick-off session for 2018’s Congressional Fellows Program, more than 100 Capitol Hill staffers attend Simon Center Director David Azerrad’s talk on “America’s Two Regimes: Conservatism and Liberalism.”