Defending the Rule of Law

Our Work

In the 21st Century, democracies tend to die by the erosion of democratic norms and guardrails rather than at the barrel of a gun.

Why Is This Important

Would-be authoritarians often abuse their power, using it to eliminate checks and balances, quash dissent, target already marginalized communities, and deepen political divisions.

The Constitution and the laws we have built around it provide tools to constrain authoritarian behavior. But many of the norms and guardrails that help define our democracy are not written into law and are not self-enforcing. Together these restraints must be exercised (and strengthened) to prevent government officials from abusing their power and to ensure the law applies equally to everyone, from the most powerful to the least.

The kinds of outcomes we seek

  1. Uphold the principle that nobody is above the law.
  2. Ensure accountability for those who have attacked or undermined our democracy — regardless of their political standing.
  3. Ensure meaningful checks and balances on executive power.
  4. Stop abuses that target marginalized groups and their ability to participate in democracy.
  5. Protect the ability of the public and the press to voice dissenting views.
  6. Protect independent, non-politicized law enforcement and civil servant workforces.

What Impact Have We Had

Secured a nationwide injunction blocking border wall construction without congressional approval and helped enact power of the purse legislation to ensure future presidents cannot circumvent Congress.

Helped prevent a sitting president from politicizing the Department of Justice to interfere in an election, in part through a multi-year campaign organizing thousands of Department of Justice alumni.

Impact in the News

Donald Trump with an American flag behind him.

Understanding Trump’s pardon abuses

Although presidential pardons are often controversial, Trump created an entirely new class: what Protect Democracy categorizes as “henchmen pardons.”

November 29, 2023

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Analysis

What is the Big Lie?

The Big Lie is the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and that the Republicans who affirmed Biden’s victory were part of a conspiracy to defeat their own party’s president

August 15, 2023

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Protecting Elections
  • Safeguarding the Public Square
  • Analysis