Latest News from the Brennan Center

August 17, 2011

Super Accountability for the “Super Committee”

With the debt ceiling raised, Congress now looks to the 12 Super Committee members to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23rd. Given the stakes, the Brennan Center is calling on the Super Committee to make its dealings as transparent as possible. In a letter to Super Committee members and an op-ed in Politico, the Center argues that all potentially corrupting outside influences — campaign contributors, ties to business corporations, relationships with political groups — should be publicly disclosed. 

War on Voting Gets the Colbert Treatment

The Colbert Report recently skewered a wave of restrictive voting measures enacted around the country, the most significant assault on voting rights in decades. The Center is vigilantly monitoring these bills. Read our round-up of legislative activity so far, and look for a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks.

Promoting Fair and Impartial Courts

The American Bar Association passed a resolution calling on states to adopt new rules for judicial disqualification. This sent a strong signal to state courts that these procedures are crucial to ensure public confidence in the judiciary. Consistent with two Brennan Center recommendations, you can read more about the resolution at Reuters and The National Law Journal.

Legal Services Face Drastic Cuts

A House committee proposed a 26 percent, or $104 millioncut to federal funding for civil legal services for the poor. Stephen Zack, president of the American Bar Association, calls the cuts “frightening.” In Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger, the Center’s Rebekah Diller says they would bring national funding "down to the lowest level since the start of the program in 1974." Read our report on how the economic downturn is affecting civil legal services.

End Prison-Based Gerrymandering

By law, New York’s task force on reapportionment, known as LATFOR, must allocate people in prison to their home communities for redistricting. After reports that LATFOR was not planning to comply with the law, the Brennan Center and a group of civil rights organizations sent a “sternly worded letter” to the task force. The New York Times agreed, taking LATFOR to task in an editorial. LATFOR’s co-chairs have since stated they plan to comply with the law, although several Senate Republicans are still challenging the law in court. The Brennan Center is part of a coalition working to defend the law.

Ideas on Democracy, Justice, and the Rule of Law

The U.S. Detention System Since 9/11: A Conversation – Emily Berman & Jonathan Hafetz

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Brennan Center counsel Emily Berman and Jonathan Hafetz, Seton Hall law professor and Center alum, discuss an unjust detention regime, the role of habeas corpus, the Warsame case, and whether we can hold the government accountable for deprivations of liberty.

What We’re Reading Today

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

Leaving Wisconsin Voters in the Dark – Erik Opsal

With millions in outside spending flooding into the state's recall elections, and new voter ID restrictions, many ask, what's up with Wisconsin?

The Debt Ceiling and Ungovernable America – Kelly Williams

NYU Law Professor Richard Pildes's 2010 Thomas Jorde Symposium lecture on hyper-polarization proves prescient given the recent debt ceiling debacle.

Read more blogs here.



- Sept. 15 – Senior Counsel Adam Skaggs will discuss "Corporate Political Activity and Disclosure after Citizens United" at Baruch College in New York City.

- Sept. 19 – Michael Waldman debates former FEC Chair Bradley Smith on campaign finance law at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.

Past Events

- The Brennan Center and The Century Foundation held a public conversation on our new book, Money, Politics, and the Constitution: Beyond Citizens United. Watch video here.

- The Community-Oriented Defender Network and the American Council of Chief Defenders held a joint conference at New York University on July 20-22. Read more about a holistic approach to criminal justice here.

The Brennan Center In the News

- Center Attorney and Katz Fellow Mimi Marziani calls for transparency for the debt “Super Committee” in a Politico op-ed.

- In the New York Law Journal, Peter Zimroth, a Brennan Center pro bono partner, writes about a Muslim group’s fight to build a mosque in New Jersey.

- Adam Skaggs provides context on the ABA’s new rules on judicial disqualification in Reuters and The National Law Journal.

- Rebekah Diller comments on how cuts to civil legal services have affected Mississippi in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

- Laura Abel of the Brennan Center and Tina Matsuoka of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association penned an op-ed in The National Law Journal urging the ABA to adopt new language access standards.

- The Brennan Center’s Faiza Patel, with Arun Kundnani of the Open Society Foundation, wrote in Roll Call about what counter-radicalization lessons the U.S. can learn from the U.K.