News Release

Brookings Institution Launches Katzmann Initiative to Strengthen Intergovernmental Relations and Civic Education

June 5, 2024

Washington, D.C. — The Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution is proud to announce the launch of the Katzmann Initiative on Improving Interbranch Relations and Government. This new project, named in honor of the late Robert A. Katzmann—a Brookings scholar from 1981-99 and later chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit—aims to enhance the health of our democracy by improving relationships between the branches of government.

The Katzmann Initiative is led by Brookings Fellow Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a renowned presidency scholar with expertise on White House staffing, the Senate confirmation process, reelection campaigns, and transitions. Tenpas, also a Senior Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, is the author of numerous scholarly articles and the book, “Presidents as Candidates: Inside the White House for the Presidential Campaign.”

“In this era of heightened partisan contention, understanding the barriers to effective governance is more important than ever,” said Tenpas. “The Katzmann Initiative will convene scholars and practitioners to evaluate interbranch relations, consider steps to reduce unnecessary friction, monitor the interactions between the courts and Congress, and foster civic education.”

“This Initiative, honoring the late Robert Katzmann, seeks to ease the tension between the branches of our government, bringing together strong expertise to monitor the health of U.S. democracy and enhance public understanding,” said Camille Busette, interim vice president of the Governance Studies program at Brookings.

The Katzmann Initiative will focus on three main areas:

  • Monitoring the Health of the Three Branches – Judge Katzmann believed that the government, like individuals, needs regular check-ups. The initiative will continue efforts to provide objective indicators for evaluating the health of the three branches.
  • Examining the Relationship Between the Courts and Congress – The initiative will monitor court reform legislation, seek ways to foster legislative-judicial collaboration, and convene scholars working in this area.
  • Promoting Civic Education – Reflecting Judge Katzmann’s dedication to civic education, the initiative aims to counter threats to American democracy by improving public knowledge and understanding of the role of the courts and the U.S. government. Scholars and practitioners will adapt research results into modules for civics classes and other educational programs for students.

On Wednesday, June 5, the Katzmann Initiative will host its inaugural event featuring a discussion with retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer about his recently published book, “Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism.” Learn more and register to attend here.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.