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Safeguarding Democracy Project

The Safeguarding Democracy Project is a project at the UCLA School of Law founded by Richard Hasen, a prominent election law professor who has criticized voter identification laws and accused Republicans of using the COVID-19 pandemic to keep Democrat voters from voting. In its mission statement, Safeguarding Democracy Project claims that Republicans who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election were acting in bad faith, and it also stated that election integrity laws passed after the 2020 election “make it harder for some eligible voters to register and to vote,” which will “threaten the cornerstone of American democracy.”[1]

Agenda

The Safeguarding Democracy Project and Director Richard Hasen have both heavily criticized Republican-led efforts to reform election laws in states. The Project claims that “the events following the 2020 presidential elections, which led to the dangerous January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol, demonstrated that the American electoral system depends as much, if not more, on people acting in good faith as upon mere legal constraints. Since those events, this risk of election subversion has been coupled with new efforts to make it harder for some eligible voters to register and to vote.”[2]

Hasen echoed many of the same sentiments in a press release about the Safeguarding Democracy Project. He asserted that “the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, brought on by false claims about the 2020 presidential election, was the opening salvo of a concerted effort to subvert our electoral system.”[3]

Operations

According to its website, the Safeguarding Democracy Project performs a variety of functions to promote its agenda, including filing legal briefs, writing research reports, and holding conferences.[4] The Project is planning an event for September 20, 2022, to discuss “the Supreme Court’s role in preserving American democracy” and host “a scholarly roundtable on the independent state legislature doctrine.”[5]

The independent state legislature doctrine is a legal theory which states that state legislatures have ultimate authority to regulate elections in their states, including determining legislative districts and election regulations. Hasen has told Politico that he opposes the theory.[6]

Advisory Board

The Safeguarding Democracy Project has an advisory board of lawyers, professors, and elections officials. The board includes several prominent Democratic lawyers and Republicans who opposed the Trump Administration. They include J. Michael Luttig, a former judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to the Obama administration, and Sarah Longwell, a publisher at The Bulwark.[7] The entire advisory board is listed below:

  • Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
  • Adam Ambrogi, Senior Director for Voting and Elections, National League of Women Voters
  • Bob Bauer, Former White House Counsel and General Counsel to Obama for America (2008 and 2012) Presidential Campaigns; Co-Chair, Presidential Commission on Election Administration (2013-2014); Co-Chair, Election Official Legal Defense Network (2021-present); Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, NYU Law School
  • Guy-Uriel Charles, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Professor Law, Harvard University
  • Erwin Cherminsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Berkeley
  • Judd Choate, State Election Director, Colorado Department of State
  • Danielle K. Citron, Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor in Law, University of Virginia
  • Louis DeSipio, Professor of Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies, UC Irvine
  • Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
  • Renee DiResta, Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observatory, Stanford University
  • Joan Donovan, Research Director, The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School, Harvard University
  • Pam Fessler, Former NPR Voting Rights Correspondent
  • Joseph Fishkin, Professor of Law, UCLA
  • Edward B. Foley, Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law, Ohio State University
  • Benjamin Ginsberg, Former Counsel to Bush-Cheney (2000 and 2004) and Romney (2008 and 2012) Presidential Campaigns; Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Co-Chair, Election Officials Legal Defense Network
  • Sara Wallace Goodman, Professor of Political Science, UC Irvine
  • Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, UC Irvine
  • Trey Grayson, Former Secretary of State, Commonwealth of Kentucky (2004-11); Member, Frost Brown Todd
  • Gretchen Helmke, Thomas H. Jackson Distinguished University Professor, University of Rochester
  • Elizabeth Howard, Senior Counsel, Democracy, Brennan Center for Justice
  • Samuel Isaacharoff, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU Law
  • David Kaye, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, International Justice Clinic, UC Irvine
  • Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, Orange County, Calif. (Ret.)
  • Claire Jean Kim, Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies, UC Irvine
  • Kate Klonick, Assistant Professor Law, St. John’s University
  • Jack I. Lerner, Clinical Professor of Law, UC Irvine
  • Steven Levitsky, David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, Harvard University
  • Leah Litman, Professor of Law, University of Michigan
  • Sarah Longwell, CEO, Longwell Partners; Publisher, The Bulwark
  • J. Michael Luttig, Former Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth District
  • Matthew Masterson, Former Commissioner, U.S. Election Assistance Commission and Senior Cybersecurity Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security; Director of Information Integrity, Microsoft Democracy Forward
  • Jon D. Michaels, Professor of Law, UCLA
  • Michael T. Morley, Associate Professor of Law, Florida State University
  • Derek T. Muller, Professor of Law, University of Iowa
  • Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
  • Brendan Nyhan, James O. Freedman Presidential Professor, Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
  • Norman J. Ornstein, Emeritus Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford University
  • Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU
  • Betrall Ross, Professor of Law, University of Virginia
  • Alex Stamos, Director, Stanford Internet Observatory
  • Charles Stewart III, Kenin Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Michael Tesler, Professor of Political Science, UC Irvine
  • Franita Tolson, George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Chair in Law, University of Southern California
  • Lynn Vavreck, Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy, UCLA Political Science
  • Amy Wilentz, Author and Professor of English (Literary Journalism), UC Irvine; Contributing Editor, The Nation
  • Adam Winkler, Connell Professor of Law, UCLA

References

  1. Safeguarding Democracy Project. “Protecting Free and Fair Elections.” https://law.ucla.edu/academics/centers/safeguarding-democracy-project. Accessed July 8, 2022. ^
  2. Safeguarding Democracy Project. “Protecting Free and Fair Elections.” https://law.ucla.edu/academics/centers/safeguarding-democracy-project. Accessed July 8, 2022. ^
  3. UCLA School of Law. “UCLA Law Launches Safeguarding Democracy Project Led by Richard L. Hasen.” https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ucla-law-launches-safeguarding-democracy-project-led-by-richard-l-hasen-301582132.html. Accessed July 8, 2022. ^
  4. Safeguarding Democracy Project. “Protecting Free and Fair Elections.” https://law.ucla.edu/academics/centers/safeguarding-democracy-project. Accessed July 8, 2022. ^
  5. Safeguarding Democracy Project. “Events.” https://law.ucla.edu/academics/centers/safeguarding-democracy-project. Accessed July 8, 2022. ^
  6. Montellaro, Zach. “GOP pushes for an ‘earthquake in American electoral power.’” Politico, March 9, 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/03/09/gop-pushes-for-an-earthquake-in-american-electoral-power-00015402. ^
  7. UCLA School of Law. “UCLA Law Launches Safeguarding Democracy Project Led by Richard L. Hasen.” https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ucla-law-launches-safeguarding-democracy-project-led-by-richard-l-hasen-301582132.html. Accessed July 8, 2022. ^
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