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The Third Branch: Why Courts Matter and What Philanthropy Can Do

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Voting rights, campaign finance regulations, civil rights, and other core premises of our democracy, including the very rule of law, may be under serious assault by the executive and Congress in the coming years, with similar attacks expected at the state level. The courts—state and federal—are our forgotten democratic institutions, forming a check on the excesses of other branches and, in the best cases, defending the rights of the least powerful among us. But the public knows next to nothing about what courts do, let alone how we choose our judges. This discussion examines why the courts matter to all the substantive issues we care about, and offers new thinking about how to engage the public as third branch defenders. Speakers will discuss how foundations can support work that affirms the courts as an independent check on power, and as an important bulwark against anti-democratic forces.


Anisha Singh, Center for American Progress
Professor Johanna Kalb, Loyola University of New Orleans
Heather Arnett, Justice Not Politics Alaska

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