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

Books on a bookshelf in soft focus.

PEN America v. Escambia County School Board

Protect Democracy represents PEN America in litigation challenging the constitutionality of book bans in Escambia County.

May 17, 2023

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Safeguarding the Public Square
  • Case Documents
DHS Department of Homeland Security Police

Douša v. DHS

Protect Democracy and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Reverend Kaji Douša, challenging a previously secret Department of Homeland Security (DHS) surveillance operation.

March 21, 2023

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents

Blassingame v. Trump and Moore v. Trump

Protect Democracy sued former President Trump on behalf of Capitol Police Officers who were injured during the January 6th insurrection.

October 3, 2022

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents

Vindman v. Trump Jr., Giuliani, Scavino, and Hahn

Protect Democracy filed suit on behalf of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to defend federal officials who carry out their duty to report misconduct and testify in impeachment proceedings.

February 2, 2022

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents

Qassim Soleimani FOIA Lawsuit

Protect Democracy sued the Trump administration to uncover the legal basis for the targeted killing of Qassim Soleimani, the former commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

January 22, 2022

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents

Thompson v. Trump

Amicus briefs filed by a bipartisan group of former members of Congress explain why it was Congress’s right to review documents that Trump was withholding.

December 9, 2021

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents
People Protesting

Don’t Shoot Portland v. Wolf

This lawsuit contended that federal law enforcement officers exceeded the limits of their authority in Portland, Oregon, in response to protests.

July 27, 2020

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents
US Immigration Paperwork

ASISTA v. Albence

In February 2020, Protect Democracy filed a lawsuit alleging that Matthew Albence, the purported Acting Director of ICE was not legally serving in that position.

July 17, 2020

  • Defending the Rule of Law
  • Case Documents