This volume is a sample of the Brennan Center’s work on all fronts in the fight for democracy and justice in 2015. Material is drawn from Brennan Center reports, policy proposals, and issue briefs, in addition to public remarks, legal briefs, congressional testimony, and op-ed pieces delivered at Brennan Center events or written by Brennan Center staff.
Introduction by Michael Waldman
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The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law was founded 20 years ago as a living memorial to the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. We were charged with carrying forward his core precept that the law must have, at its heart, the concept of “human dignity.”
As we proudly mark our 20th anniversary, we continue to hold core public institutions to account in the light of fundamental American values. Today those systems urgently need reform and revitalization. At a time of government dysfunction and wide discontent, our mission is more vital than ever.
This volume offers a taste of our work over the past year. Even amid the clamor, this has been a time of real, often unexpected progress.
Our plan for automatic voter registration became law in Oregon and California, likely adding millions to the rolls. Courts upheld our challenge to Texas’s discriminatory voter ID law. We brought together leading presidential candidates from both parties to explore solutions to ending mass incarceration. We convened 160 leading police chiefs and prosecutors as a strong new voice to argue that we can reduce crime
and incarceration. And the U.S. Supreme Court cited our research and arguments six times as the justices upheld citizen-created redistricting commissions and Florida’s judicial campaign finance law.
In all this, we remain committed to rigorous research and fresh thinking. We challenge assumptions, even our own, as with our report urging stronger political parties as a solution to the campaign finance mess. Plainly, 2016 will be a critical year for America. The very integrity of our democracy will be on the ballot. Our issues will move to the forefront.
Now and for the next 20 years, let’s recommit to the values of democracy and justice, of freedom and fairness and tolerance, that make our country truly exceptional.
Democracy & Justice: Collected Writings, Vol. IX