Litigation

Demos battles in the nation’s courts to tear down barriers to democracy, confront exploitation in our economy, and advance racial justice.

Our lawsuits combat voter suppression, much of it rooted in the history and present reality of racial subordination and white supremacy. We take on unlawful voter purges, failure to provide voter registration opportunities, language discrimination in election materials, prison-based gerrymandering, and disenfranchisement of people accused or convicted of crimes. Our legal team has deep expertise on money in politics and systemic racism in the criminal justice system, and we engage on policy reform at all levels of government. Critically, we work closely with movement leaders who are building power for communities of color and winning structural change at the state and local level.

Demos has a national docket of voting rights litigation, with investigations and active lawsuits in a dozen states. Our work includes state and federal litigation at the trial level, courts of appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court. We have a track record of successfully enforcing the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), which requires that states provide voter registration opportunities to people when they interact with government agencies like the DMV and public assistance agencies. For years, states have failed to comply with the NVRA, resulting in millions of eligible voters—disproportionately people of color and low-income people—being excluded from the democratic process. Demos’ enforcement efforts have resulted in over 3 million new voter registration applications to date.

We use the law to fight discriminatory voter purges, a growing voter suppression tactic, and have brought landmark litigation to end English-only elections and ensure that ballot materials are translated. We have fought in the courts, in state legislatures, and at the Census Bureau to end prison-based gerrymandering, under which incarcerated individuals are counted as residents of the prison’s location instead of their home communities. This practice inflates the political power and resources of rural white areas, where most prisons are located, at the expense of communities of color, which are disproportionately subjected to policing and prosecution. Demos is attacking the disenfranchisement of people involved in the criminal legal system, which is rife with race and wealth discrimination. We use legal strategies to interrupt the key drivers of America’s racial wealth gap and systemic economic injustice, and look for ways to litigate creatively in support of a truly inclusive democracy.

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