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Mission & Impact

The Bren­nan Center for Justice works to build an Amer­ica that is demo­cratic, just, and free — for all.

The Bren­nan Center for Justice is an inde­pend­ent, nonpar­tisan law and policy organ­iz­a­tion that works to reform, revital­ize, and when neces­sary, defend our coun­try’s systems of demo­cracy and justice.   

Today, we are in a great fight for the future of consti­tu­tional demo­cracy in the United States. We are commit­ted to the rule of law. We work to craft and advance a trans­form­at­ive reform agenda — solu­tions that aim to make Amer­ican demo­cracy work for all.

The Bren­nan Center has built a distinct model to advance legal and policy change:

  • We’re a think tank, conduct­ing rigor­ous research to identify prob­lems and craft trans­form­at­ive solu­tions.
  • We’re an advocacy group, fight­ing in court and work­ing with elec­ted offi­cials to advance legis­la­tion.
  • We’re a cutting-edge commu­nic­a­tions hub, shap­ing opin­ion by taking our message directly to the press and public.

At a time of massive demo­graphic change and economic dislo­ca­tion, public insti­tu­tions urgently need reform and repair. Today, polit­ics is polar­ized and often para­lyzed. We see harsh assaults on communit­ies of color and immig­rants. The vital safe­guards and checks and balances that under­pin demo­cracy are under attack.

We know this: The best response to an attack on demo­cracy is to strengthen demo­cracy.

That’s why we’ve pion­eered innov­at­ive reforms:

  • Auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion has been enacted in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
  • We’ve cham­pioned small donor public finan­cing, which would give ordin­ary Amer­ic­ans a much louder voice in polit­ical campaigns.
  • We’ve craf­ted ballot initi­at­ives that ended partisan gerry­man­der­ing across the coun­try.
  • We’ve helped trans­form the debate over mass incar­cer­a­tion through ground­break­ing research that revealed that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. prison popu­la­tion is locked up unne­ces­sar­ily. 

In all this, we take our cue from Abra­ham Lincol­n’s admon­i­tion at another time of consti­tu­tional debate:

“Public senti­ment is everything. With public senti­ment, noth­ing can fail; without it, noth­ing can succeed. Consequently, he who molds public senti­ment goes deeper than he who enacts stat­utes or pronounces decisions. He makes stat­utes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”

Truly effect­ive legal and policy change requires winning, first and fore­most, in the court of public opin­ion.