Structural Reform and Governance

Courts and Legal Policy

The Courts and Legal Policy team works to advance reforms to make America’s legal system more accessible and just for ordinary people.

A courtroom in Ohio. (Getty/Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge)

What We're Doing

Ensure America's judges reflect its diversity

Despite recent and historic gains, America’s federal judges remain overwhelmingly white and male, and the bench is stacked with those from corporate law backgrounds and former federal prosecutors. Appointing diverse nominees with diverse backgrounds is essential to strengthening the courts.

Modernize the federal bench at all levels

From significant expansion of the lower courts to instituting term limits for Supreme Court justices, it is critical to enact reforms that will ensure that the size of the judiciary and the makeup of the Supreme Court reflect the needs of the American people and the realities of modern life.

Advance access to justice for all people

Too often, justice in America’s courtrooms is only accessible to those with means and in power. The need to expand access to justice has only become more pressing as COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing legal inequities. All people, regardless of income or status, deserve high-quality legal help.

Recent Work


The Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy Is Over Report
 (Volunteers in Washington, D.C., place teddy bears along a cage as part of a demonstration meant to represent the children still separated from their families as a result of U.S. immigration policies, November 2020.)

The Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy Is Over

Individual and collective accountability for the family separation policy is needed to hold individuals responsible, restore faith in government institutions, prevent further abuses, and provide appropriate redress.

Maggie Jo Buchanan, Philip E. Wolgin, Claudia Flores

June Medical Services v. Russo Report
Hundreds of people line up outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building for a chance to attend arguments at the start of the court's new term, October 7, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Hundreds wait in line outside of Supreme Court.)

June Medical Services v. Russo

Meaningful access to abortion care, as well as the ability to enforce abortion and other civil and human rights in court, are at stake in the upcoming Supreme Court case.

Jamille Fields Allsbrook, Nora Ellmann

Transforming the Culture of Power Report
 (Protesters against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh demonstrate at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on October 6, 2018.)

Transforming the Culture of Power

Dismantling the culture of power that sustains and fuels gender-based violence requires a comprehensive, national strategy that connects meaningful policy solutions across the diverse issues affecting survivors and communities.

Jocelyn Frye, Shilpa Phadke, Robin Bleiweis, 6 More Maggie Jo Buchanan, Danielle Corley, Osub Ahmed, Rebecca Cokley, Laura E. Durso, Chelsea Parsons

Building a More Inclusive Federal Judiciary Report
The Contemplation of Justice statue stands in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Building a More Inclusive Federal Judiciary

The federal judiciary does not reflect the population that it serves, which has severe consequences for both the institution’s legitimacy and the parties who come before it.

Danielle Root, Jake Faleschini, Grace Oyenubi

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