Brennan Center for Justice

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a [2] law and public policy institute generally considered liberal or progressive.[3][4][5] The Brennan Center's mission is to "work to reform, revitalize, and when necessary, defend our country's systems of democracy and justice."[6] It was created in 1995 in honor of Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan and envisioned as a hybrid organization combining a public interest law firm and traditional think tank. The Guardian has described the Brennan Center as "the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights."[7]

Brennan Center for Justice
Established1995
PresidentMichael Waldman
ChairmanPatricia Bauman and Robert A. Atkins
Budget$21,201,609 (2017)[1]
Location
WebsiteBrennanCenter.org

History and missionEdit

The Brennan Center for Justice is a think tank, public interest law firm, and advocacy organization founded in 1995 by a group of former law clerks of Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, who died in 1997. To honor him, the Brennan Center was created as a living memorial to Brennan's ideals: "a commitment to a fair and inclusive democracy, support for the disadvantaged, and respect for individual rights and liberties."[8]

In 1996, The Brennan Center received an initial $25,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. During the selection process of what school to center operations from, the Brennan Center selected New York University Law School out of a choice of three schools, with the other two being Harvard University and Georgetown University.[9]

The Brennan Center was designed "to create a new breed of public interest organization that had one foot in the world of ideas and one foot in ... policy advocacy," according to co-founder Executive Director Joshua Rosenkranz, who clerked for both Justice Brennan and then-judge Antonin Scalia on the D.C. circuit.[10]

The Brennan Center advocates for a number of progressive public policy positions, including public campaign financing, nonpartisan redistricting, automatic voter registration, and an end to mass incarceration.

The Brennan Center opposed the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC,[11] which held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by nonprofits. It also opposed the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County v. Holder,[12] which invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to obtain approval before changing voting rules.

The organization endorsed the For the People Act of 2019, which proposed a slate of pro-democracy reforms, including the expansion of voting rights and curbing partisan gerrymandering.[13] It also supports the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would again require jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to seek federal approval for election changes.[14] Center policy experts testified before Congress in support of both bills.[15]

Program AreasEdit

The Brennan Center's work is divided into three programs—Democracy, Justice, and Liberty & National Security.[16] Past programs focused on criminal justice, poverty, and economic justice.[17] The organization has focus on issues both at the national, state and local levels of government.

DemocracyEdit

The Democracy Program at the Brennan Center focuses on ensuring equal access to voting, voting rights restoration, and combatting voter suppression. Through various collaborations with grassroots groups, advocacy organizations, and government officials, the program provides legal strategy, policy development, empirical research, and communications to advance policy reform goals. The goal of the program is to protect and promote voting rights, campaign finance reform, redistricting integrity, fair courts, while re-centering a First Amendment jurisprudence that puts the rights of citizens and not special interests at the center of U.S democracy.[18]

JusticeEdit

The Brennan Center's Justice program works to end mass incarceration and other criminal justice policies that target communities of color. This program works to advance data-driven legal reforms, crafts new empirical analyses, suggests policy solutions, and engages in litigation to end mass incarceration. Through original research, they work to showcase "perverse incentives distort[ing] our justice system."[19]

Liberty & National SecurityEdit

The Brennan Center's focus on national security policies call for reforms that center constitutional values and the rule of law while also protecting people. Through highlighting the abuse of emergency powers by the executive branch and excessive government secrecy, this program focuses on protecting citizens' privacy, updating privacy laws to account for new technologies, helping counterterrorism authorities more narrowly target to terrorist threats, and securing adequate oversight and accountability mechanisms by strengthening the government's system of checks and balances.[20]

COVID-19 ResponseEdit

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brennan Center raised public policy alarms caused by the virus, formulating strategies to protect voters and safeguard elections in the midst of the public health crisis, calling for reforms of the National Emergencies Act, and addressing unsafe prison conditions.[21]

The Center released a five-tier policy framework — which included universal access to vote by mail, expanded early voting, and safe polling places — to protect and secure the 2020 election against the threat of COVID-19.[22] The Center also estimated that $4 billion in federal funding was necessary to secure all elections in 2020.[23] It then endorsed the federal HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives and allocated $3.6 billion towards election safety measures.[24]

In Pennsylvania, the Brennan Center intervened in a federal case brought by the Trump campaign to stop the state from installing drop boxes for mail ballots due to voter fraud concerns.[25] In October, a federal judge upheld the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's drop boxes, rejecting the Trump campaign's claims of voter fraud as too "speculative."[26]

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty & National Security program, was quoted in USA Today weighing public health versus civil liberties, suggesting that some of the more "draconian" restrictions by states may be justified: "For many, many decades we haven't seen a public health threat as significant as what we're seeing now."[27] In response to viral rumors suggesting President Trump would declare martial law, the Center argued that the possibility was unlikely, but the relevant laws should be clarified.[28]

Lauren-Brooke Eisen, director of the Justice program, spoke to The Intercept about criminal justice reforms in light of COVID-19's spread throughout correctional facilities, suggesting that it is a crucial moment to reimagine the way the U.S. addresses crime and punishment. "Let's not go back to where we were," she told the outlet.[29]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "IRS Form 990 2017" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  2. ^ Katz, Lee Michael (Summer 2008). "The Brennan Center for Justice: A Bipartisan Champion of Democracy Comes of Age" (PDF). Carnegie Results. pp. 1–16. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 1, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  3. ^ Katz, Lee Michael (Summer 2008). "The Brennan Center for Justice: A Bipartisan Champion of Democracy Comes of Age" (PDF). Carnegie Results. pp. 1–16. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 1, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  4. ^ Montopoli, Brian (October 3, 2011). "2012 election: Disenfranchised voters, hacked machines?". CBS News. Archived from the original on August 25, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  5. ^ "Brennan Center for Justice". CREDO Donations. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  6. ^ "Brennan Center for Justice". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved Jan 16, 2021.
  7. ^ "If America wants to be the world's leading democracy, it should start acting like one". The Guardian. January 16, 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  8. ^ "The Brennan Center for Justice: A Bipartisan Champion of Democracy Comes of Age" (PDF). Carnegie Corporation. Summer 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  9. ^ "The Brennan Center for Justice: A Bipartisan Champion of Democracy Comes of Age" (PDF). Carnegie Corporation. Summer 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  10. ^ "E. Joshua Rosenkranz". Orrick.com Post. October 25, 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Citizens United page". The Brennan Center for Justice. October 22, 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Section 5 Stands, Now Congress Must Strengthen Voting Rights Act". The Brennan Center for Justice Post. April 6, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  13. ^ "The Case for H.R.1". The Brennan Center for Justice. June 7, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  14. ^ "H.R. 4 - The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019". The Brennan Center for Justice Post. August 5, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Testimony of Wendy R. Weiser, The Committee on House Administration, U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). The Brennan Center for Justice. February 14, 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Programs". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  17. ^ Schell, Scott (August 27, 2003). "The Brennan Center for Justice: Carrying on the Fight." Archived 2011-09-26 at the Wayback Machine NYC Pro Bono Center News. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
  18. ^ "Programs". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Programs". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Programs". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  21. ^ "Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  22. ^ "How to Protect the 2020 Vote from the Coronavirus". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Will Americans Lose Their Right to Vote in the Pandemic?". The New York Times. January 16, 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  24. ^ "House Passes HEROES Act, Includes Crucial Funds to Run Safe, Secure 2020 Elections During Pandemic". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  25. ^ "BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO MODIFY STAY ORDER AND FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF" (PDF). Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Opinion: Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., et al., v. Kathy Boockvar, in her capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al" (PDF). The Court Listener. October 10, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling overturning stay-at-home order highlights widening US debate on pandemic". USA Today. May 15, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Can the president declare martial law in response to coronavirus?". The Hill Today. April 4, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  29. ^ "The coronavirus pandemic makes the case for criminal justice reform". The Intercept Today. March 28, 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.

External linksEdit