This volume is a sample of the Brennan Center’s work on all fronts in the fight for democracy and justice in 2016 and early 2017. 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.
This is an unnerving time. For too long America’s dysfunctional democracy failed to address economic inequality and surging social change. In 2016, public anger ﬁnally erupted, in startling ways. Now, in 2017, we must wage a great ﬁght to protect core American values: Democracy and freedom. Equality and the rule of law. The Constitution itself. It’s the ﬁght of our lives.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that works to strengthen the systems of democracy and justice. We’re part think tank, part legal advocacy group, part communications hub. We’re independent and rigorous. This volume offers a taste of our work from 2016 and early 2017. That work is more vital than ever.
We are deeply engaged in the drive to protect the right to vote, to ensure fair and free elections, and to expose corruption and self-dealing. We work to end mass incarceration, and for counterterrorism policies that respect freedom and reject bigotry and Islamophobia. We are working to strengthen the checks and balances that can curb executive abuse. We aim to be a vibrant hub for innovative reforms. Our plan for automatic voter registration, for example, is being implemented in six states and Washington, D.C., with growing bipartisan support. In all of this, we reject the glib notion that this is a “post truth” era. Facts matter.
Two decades ago, the Center was launched in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. He once said, “The Constitution will endure as a vital charter of human liberty as long as there are those with the courage to defend it, the vision to interpret it, and the ﬁdelity to live by it.” Thank you to our Board, supporters, and staff colleagues who strive to live up to those values in this time of testing.