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Access to the Courts

Everyone should be afforded equal access to our justice system. We are conducting research and creating policy solutions to promote equitable access to the courts, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


All people deserve a fair day in court. Yet, race, income level, gender, and immigration status can pose hurdles to equal participation in court, while as many as 90 percent of civil litigants in some states lack access to an attorney.

Such disparities have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing requirements have forced federal, state, and local courts to switch to virtual proceedings. Millions of people await their date in court, including thousands who are currently detained or incarcerated. However, little is known about the implications of virtual proceedings for access to justice, especially for marginalized communities.

The Brennan Center works to ensure equitable access to the courts by tracking courts’ responses to Covid-19, researching the impact of technology on access to justice, advocating for a halt to ICE courthouse arrests, and developing new policy solutions.