When politicians want to attack democracy, they attack public schools.

by Will Bardwell, Senior Counsel at Democracy Forward

Public education is the bedrock of our democracy. It is no coincidence that when politicians want to attack democracy, they attack public schools.

After white supremacists had overthrown democratically elected state governments across the South in the late 1870s, they immediately began restricting Black citizens’ access to two institutions: voting and education. That was no accident. Nor is it an accident that those attacks continue today.

During the final hours of the Mississippi Legislature’s annual session, appropriators snuck through a $10 million giveaway to private schools, funded by a federal COVID relief package. The legislation specifically excludes public schools from eligibility.

Funneling public money to private schools isn’t just bad policy. In Mississippi, it’s also unconstitutional. When the Legislature violated that requirement, it did more than merely continue Mississippi’s shameful history of undermining its children’s public schools. It broke the law.

So Democracy Forward pushed back.

Click below to read the full story.

Representing America

We provide legal representation and expert counsel to people and communities who make up the fabric of American democracy. Here are some highlights from our latest work.


Judge Grants Biden Administration’s Motion to Block Idaho Law Depriving Patients of Emergency Care

Last week, a federal court blocked part of Idaho’s abortion ban, agreeing with the Department of Justice and the nation’s medical community that the law – an extreme, near-total ban on abortion – conflicts with federal protections for physicians and patients needing emergency care.

Our brief on behalf of emergency physicians and leading medical and public health organizations explained that Idaho’s law does not provide sufficient protection for doctors who are required by federal law to provide medically necessary, often life-saving abortion care in emergency situations.


In The Fifth Circuit, SEC and Nasdaq Push Back on Efforts to Undermine Board Diversity Disclosures Board Diversity Disclosures

Nasdaq and the Securities and Exchange Commission were in court this week defending the SEC’s approval of a Nasdaq rule requiring companies traded on the Nasdaq exchange to have on their boards at least one self-identified female and at least one underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+ person, or explain why they don’t. Right-wing special interests have challenged the SEC approval of the rule, despite support from investors.

Read our brief on behalf of corporate governance and business scholars in support of the rule and in demonstration of the strong research linking board diversity and corporate performance.

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Back-to-School Bookmarks

Right-wing actors in states like Florida are driving efforts to censor how race, gender and inequality are discussed in schools, colleges and workplaces. That includes restricting access to books, violating the freedom to read.

Through public investigation, we’re working to uncover and shed light on these abuses of power. Learn more and download our bookmark.


DF Attorneys Honored for Distinguished Legal Work

In recognition of outstanding professional legal service to the Surfrider Foundation, Democracy Forward’s Samara Spence and Robin Thurston and alumni Michael Martinez and Travis Annatoyn were named recipients of Surfrider’s Wavemaker Award.

Our team represented Surfrider in defending the EPA’s use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in settlements with polluters, in order to realize on-the-ground benefits in affected communities. The lawsuit successfully helped lead the federal administration to withdraw the prior administration’s memo prohibiting the use of SEPs.

Learn more.