Congress’s Power over Courts: Jurisdiction Stripping and the Rule of Klein

Congress’s Power over Courts: Jurisdiction Stripping and the Rule of Klein.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sarah Herman Peck. August 9, 2018

  Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. Notably, it empowers federal courts to hear “cases” and “controversies.” The Constitution further creates a federal judiciary with significant independence, providing federal judges with life tenure and prohibiting diminutions of judges’ salaries. But the Framers also granted Congress the power to regulate the federal courts in numerous ways. For instance, Article III authorizes Congress to determine what classes of “cases” and “controversies” inferior courts have jurisdiction to review. Additionally, Article III’s Exceptions Clause grants Congress the power to make “exceptions” and “regulations” to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Congress sometimes exercises this power by “stripping” federal courts of jurisdiction to hear a class of cases. Congress has gone so far as to eliminate a court’s jurisdiction to review a particular case in the midst of litigation. More generally, Congress may influence judicial resolutions by amending the substantive law underlying particular litigation of interest to the legislature.

 [PDF format, 26 pages].

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Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Businesses—2018 Edition

Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Businesses—2018 Edition. World Resources Institute.  Ruth Nogueron et al.  August 2018

This publication updates the 2014 version of Sourcing Legally Produced Wood, which provided information on illegal logging and associated trade, public and private procurement policies, export country logging and log export bans, and introductory guidance to the wood products legality legislation in the United States, the EU, and Australia. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 40 pages].

Flood Resilience and Risk Reduction: Federal Assistance and Programs

Flood Resilience and Risk Reduction: Federal Assistance and Programs.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Nicole T. Carter et al. July 25, 2018

 Recent flood disasters have raised congressional and public interest in not only reducing flood risks, but also improving flood resilience, which is the ability to adapt to, withstand, and rapidly recover from floods. In the United States, flood-related responsibilities are shared. States and local governments have significant discretion in land use and development decisions, which can be major factors in determining the vulnerability to and consequence of hurricanes, storms, extreme rainfall, and other flood events. Congress has established various federal programs that may be available to assist U.S. state, local, and territorial entities and tribes in reducing flood risks. Among the most significant federal activities to reduce communities’ flood risks and improve flood resilience are assistance with infrastructure projects (e.g., levees, shore protection) and other flood mitigation activities that save lives and reduce property damage; and mitigation incentives for communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

 [PDF format, 49 pages].

Local Workforce Development Boards and Child Care

Local Workforce Development Boards and Child Care. Urban Institute. Gina Adams, Semhar Gebrekristos. August 8, 2018

 Many low-income Americans face challenges in the job market because of inadequate education and job skills and low-income parents face particular challenges enrolling in activities to improve their skills and education levels because of the lack of affordable, quality child care. Local workforce development boards (LWDBs) set policies for and oversee a set of workforce programs and services funded under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As such, they are the front line for low-income parents who need education and training. This report provides insights into how LWDBs can help address child care barriers by presenting findings from interviews with administrators from five LWDBs across the country (Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development in Colorado, CareerSource of Broward County in Florida, Northern Indiana Workforce Board, Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, and North Central SkillSource in Washington). Although not representative of the actions of all LWDBs, each of the five sites had a broad vision of the importance of child care, understood the multifaceted benefits of child care across generations and how it fit their mission, and discussed the role child care plays for employers and the economy. We found that LWDBs can play an important role in meeting the child care needs of their parent clients and supporting child care in their communities, but they are constrained by funding limitations and an inadequate child care market. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 40 pages].

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Megan Stubbs. July 26, 2018

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and only one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations. 

 [PDF format, 16 pages].

The Real Effects of the Financial Crisis

The Real Effects of the Financial Crisis. Brookings Institution. Ben S. Bernanke. September 13, 2018

 In his new BPEA paper, former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke examines why many forecasters failed to anticipate the severity of the Great Recession and what really drove the economy into such a tailspin. Bernanke’s research, which is rooted in quantitative analysis of how the 2007-2009 financial crisis affected the economy, argues that the housing bust, while significantly damaging, can’t on its own explain why the Great Recession was so bad. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 93 pages].

Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview

Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Sam Garrett. September 4, 2018

 Conventional wisdom holds that the federal government plays relatively little role in U.S. campaigns and elections. Although states retain authority for most aspects of election administration, a closer look reveals that the federal government also has steadily increased its presence in campaigns and elections in the past 50 years. Altogether, dozens of congressional committees and federal agencies could be involved in federal elections under current law. 

 [PDF format, 43 pages].