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Research Report

Democracy & Justice: Collected Writings, Vol. VIII

Published: February 15, 2015

This volume is a sample of the Brennan Center’s work on all fronts in the fight for democracy and justice in 2014. Material is drawn from Brennan Center reports, policy proposals, and issue briefs, in addition to public remarks, legal briefs, congressional testimony, and op-ed pieces delivered at Brennan Center events or written by Brennan Center staff.

Introduction by Michael Waldman

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The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that government rested on the “consent of the governed.” Every generation must find a way to give life to those ideals.

Today, the integrity of our democracy is at risk. Voter suppression laws. Vast sums of secret money. Government gripped by polarization and partisanship. A criminal justice system and surveillance practices that challenge American notions of freedom and fairness.

It feels as if the old answers have run their course. The policies offered by left and right are threadbare. If we want to solve our problems, we must fix our systems. We need a new moment of reform and revitalization.

That’s where the Brennan Center comes in. We’re independent. Nonpartisan. Rigorous. We rely on facts. And we forge transformative solutions.

Our cutting-edge litigation demonstrated how many new laws disenfranchise too many citizens.

We help lead the legal fight against big money in politics. Our rigorous research has documented the rise of “dark money,” demolishing the underlying premise of Citizens United. Over time, we are confident we will convince the Supreme Court to reverse course and chart a new jurisprudence.

We continue our major initiative to help end mass incarceration. We saw in Ferguson how federal funds can steer local police for good or ill. Our reform proposal has won support from law enforcement and libertarians, and has begun to win changes in major federal programs.

A bipartisan presidential commission embraced our signature proposal to modernize voter registration, which would add 50 million to the rolls. And our plan to bring new accountability to the fight against terrorism in New York City is now law.

This volume offers a sample of this work from 2014.

In the coming year, we’ll put forward a new approach to the Fourth Amendment in a digital age, a pro-voter election integrity agenda, an economic study on the costs of incarceration, and more.

In all this, we’re forging a distinct model for legal change. We believe passionately that to win in the court of law, we first must win in the court of public opinion. Our mission is to move these issues of democracy and justice to the heart of our national debate — where they belong.

With these ideas, we can revitalize American democracy in 2016, 2020, and beyond.

Democracy & Justice: Collected Writings, Vol. VIII