Latest News from the Brennan Center

October 7, 2011

Voting Law Changes in 2012

New voting laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012, according to Voting Law Changes in 2012, a nationwide study of the wave of new restrictions. Widespread voting cutbacks could have a significant electoral impact in next year’s hard-fought races, the study concludes. Minority, low-income and young voters will likely be most affected. To learn more, read the press release, check out this overview of the report, or read the New York Times and Washington Post coverage. See Michael Waldman discuss the report on MSNBC’s Hardball and the Daily Rundown.

New Proposal to Curb Government Secrecy

A new study concludes that unnecessary classification is detrimental to national security efforts and democratic decision making — and offers a proposal to curb abuse and needless secrecy. The report comes as the Obama administration’s advisory committee on classification is preparing recommendations for reform, in advance of a forthcoming executive order. The proposal contained in the report is currently under consideration by the advisory committee.

The Brennan Center unveiled Reducing Overclassification Through Accountability at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Moderated by New York Times reporter Scott Shane, the discussion featured report co-author Elizabeth Goitein, along with classification experts J. William Leonard, Jennifer Sims, and former Rep. Christopher Shays. Read the New York Times coverage of the report, and see video and photos of the event.

AG Holder Honors Laura Abel as Champion of Change

On October 13, Attorney General Eric Holder will honor Laura Abel as a Champion of Change for dedicating her professional life to closing the justice gap in America. As a leading strategist, advocate and thinker on expanding legal representation for low-income families, Ms. Abel has worked tirelessly to make vivid the importance of civil legal aid. She has also been a driving force behind expanding access to the courts for people who have limited proficiency in English. Read her recent study Language Access in State Courts. And look for our forthcoming report on foreclosures.

Urging Oversight of NYPD Intelligence Operations

The Brennan Center, New York City Council Members and other community groups gathered at City Hall Thursday to call for more oversight of the NYPD’s intelligence operations following a recent Associated Press investigation of the department’s domestic counter-terror tactics. The most recent revelations show Muslim religious leaders were under surveillance while working directly with Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD on community-police relations. Earlier this year, the Brennan Center issued a comprehensive look at law enforcement strategies to combat "radicalization." The report was launched at a convening of law enforcement, intelligence, and civil liberties experts. Read this Brennan Center analysis, “Unchecked NYPD Operations in Need of Oversight.” See the Associated Press and NY1 coverage and view photos of the press conference.

Ideas on Democracy, Justice, and the Rule of Law

Lawyers Take NYPD to Court – Faiza Patel

Civil rights lawyers filed suit to see whether the NYPD violated a decades-old settlement forbidding political spying.

'Top Ten' Supreme Court Preview – Sidney S. Rosdeitcher and William J. Taylor, Jr.

This Supreme Court preview analyzes four upcoming cases dealing with access to justice issues. The Brennan Center will continue to track upcoming cases throughout the term, focusing on the intersection of national security and civil liberties, more on access to justice, and voting rights, campaign finance reform and fair elections.

Bipartisan Agreement: Political Spending, Political Favoritism – Elizabeth Kennedy

In this moment of rare bipartisan agreement, President Obama should sign his draft executive order that would bring transparency to government contracts without delay.

Better Ballots for New York – ReformNY

The Brennan Center supported legislation to improve paper ballots in New York State, including the Voter Friendly Ballot Act of 2011 in the New York State Assembly.

What We’re Reading Today

See what the Brennan Center’s reading in this daily round-up of quick hits, clips, and opinion pieces touching on key issues of democracy, justice, liberty and national security

Read more blogs here.


  • Oct. 13 – Laura Abel receives a Champions of Change award from Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House. The award recognizes Ms. Abel for dedicating her professional life to closing the justice gap in America.
  • Oct. 14 – Keesha Gaskins will present, Goals of Reform: Transparency and Public Participation at the University at Buffalo Law School in NY at the Major Developments in Redistricting Conference.

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