The End of the Civil Service? The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025

Apr 26, 2024, 2:00 pm3:30 pm
Free and Open to the Public


Event Description

Chair:  Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University

Panelists: Daniel Weiner, Brennan Center for Justice; Paul Starr, Princeton University; Cary Coglianese, University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law

The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 proposes to replace large swaths of the politically buffered civil service with employees politically loyal to the president so that a new president can achieve ambitious goals more quickly and without resistance from the “deep state.”   Their report raises important questions: Why, in a democracy, don’t all state employees serve at the pleasure of elected officials? What authorizes agencies to allow specialized expertise to override political demand? Why should the pledge to replace career civil servants with political appointees not be greeted simply as the ever-increasing democratization of government?

The idea of a politically neutral and expert civil service has long been taken for granted, so the Heritage Foundation challenge raises questions about how and why almost all democratic states protect state employees from the winds of political change. Our panel will revisit the history, experience and philosophies of government that led to the creation of a politically buffered civil service and assess what – if anything – is still worth defending.