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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.