Constitutional Responsibility Project


Project of:

Sixteen Thirty Fund


Judicial Nominee Advocacy Group

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Constitutional Responsibility Project was a left-of-center judicial advocacy organization formed by the political organization of President Barack Obama to support his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. The group was a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a funding and fiscal sponsorship organization for left-of-center lobbying groups managed by the Washington, D.C.-based consultancy Arabella Advisors. 1


The Constitutional Responsibility Project was founded in 2016 amid a heated political battle over who would replace deceased Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch conservative. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) resisted calling a nomination hearing in hopes that a Republican would win the Presidency later that year. 2

The New York Times stated that the Constitutional Responsibility Project “is essentially a miniature version of Obama for America, the formal name of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign operations in 2008 and 2012, but with a new mission: to serve as an umbrella organization for the constellation of liberal groups that typically wage fights on behalf of Democratic court nominees.” 3

The Constitutional Responsibility Project is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a multi-million dollar 501(c)(4) funding group that funds many similar pop-up-style campaigns and often operates alongside 501(c)(3) nonprofit New Venture Fund. Both New Venture Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund are groups administered by Arabella Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based philanthropy consulting firm that specializes in similar left-leaning projects. Sixteen Thirty Fund’s board of directors is primarily composed of officers from Arabella Advisors, including the firm’s principal Eric Kessler. 4


According to the Federal Election Commission, the Constitutional Responsibility Project reported specifically targeting one member of Congress, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 114th Congress. Constitutional Responsibility Project targeted Grassley with a television ad buy. 5

After initial ads targeting republicans for not holding a hearing on Merrick Garland, the organization shifted pace after the election of President Donald Trump. The group turned to running ads in the key states of Arizona and Nevada that targeted vulnerable Republican Senators, urging them to reject Trump’s nominee, appellate judge Neil Gorsuch. 6

In advance of a subsequent Supreme Court nomination battle over now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Arabella Advisors and the Sixteen Thirty Fund formed a different advocacy group with the same goal called Demand Justice. 7


Notable former Obama for America and Obama White House employees who were involved with the Constitutional Responsibility Project include Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s 2012 Deputy Campaign Manager; Anita Dunn, former Obama White House communications director; Amy Brundage, former Obama White House deputy communications director; Julianna Smoot, a longtime Obama campaign fundraiser; Paul Tewes, former Obama campaign field director; and Katie Beirne Fallon, a former Obama White House Legislative Director. 8


  1. “Sixteen Thirty Fund.” OpenCorporates. Accessed August 19, 2019.
  2. Shear, Michael and Lipton, Eric. “Obama Mobilizes Campaign Veterans to Push for Court Nominee”. The New York Times.  March 17, 2016.  Accessed August 20, 2019.
  3. Shear, Michael and Lipton, Eric. “Obama Mobilizes Campaign Veterans to Push for Court Nominee”. The New York Times.  March 17, 2016.  Accessed August 20, 2019.
  4. Markay, Lachan. “Over 100 Left-Wing Groups Sourced to DC Dark Money Outfit.” Washington Free Beacon. October 22, 2015. Accessed August 19, 2019.
  5. “Constitutional Responsibility Project.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed August 20, 2019.
  6. Bendery, Jennifer. “New TV Ads Hit SCOTUS Nominee For Putting Corporations Over People” Huffington Post. March 14, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2019.
  7. Ludwig, Hayden. “Out of Darkness, Cash: Sixteen Thirty in Action”. April 17, 2019. Accessed August 20, 2019.
  8. Shear, Michael and Lipton, Eric. “Obama Mobilizes Campaign Veterans to Push for Court Nominee”. The New York Times.  March 17, 2016.  Accessed August 20, 2019.
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