We empower state and local governments to fight for civil rights and for economic and environmental justice by providing them with talent and resources to proactively enforce their residents’ legal rights.
We believe everyone has the right to fair treatment in the workplace, the marketplace, and the community.
We envision a day when there is no gap between the values expressed in our laws and the lived reality of our most vulnerable communities.
In order to reach that day, we seek to redefine local and state public law offices as proactive rights protectors rather than only criminal prosecutors, defense attorneys, or claims processors for the city, county, or state.
Whether it is repairing relationships between a community and its police, seeking protections against racial discrimination in housing, or protecting low-income neighborhoods from illegal dumping and toxic water, people should be able to look to their state and local governments to ensure their rights are protected.
Public Rights Project employs three core strategies to expand state and local capacity to proactively enforce their residents’ rights:
Build the Talent Pipeline for the Next Generation of Public Leaders: We support talented attorneys - at all stages of their government career - to catalyze agency efforts to expand affirmative litigation that enforces residents’ legal rights. Our Public Rights Project Fellowship places talented attorneys into our partner agencies to pursue affirmative litigation and advocacy for two years. Our Affirmative Leaders Fellowship provides a one year professional development program to mid-career state and local government attorneys who are expanding their offices’ affirmative work.
Provide Strategic Support to Help Offices Develop High Impact Legal Cases: We provide comprehensive technical assistance and hands-on strategic advice to our partner agencies.
Empower community residents & advocates to be active partners in an enforcement agenda rooted in equity: We provide support to community organizations and to state and local governments to design and implement equitable enforcement models that reflect what communities know and data tells us are the most dire threats to health, wealth, and safety.
Why States and Cities?
Rights Need Enforcement: It's not enough to get laws on the books. We need to enforce them to make them real. State and local law offices have the authority to do so but they need resources to take action.
Fill the Void Left by the Federal Government: The current administration has attacked vulnerable communities and rolled back enforcement of core civil rights, consumer rights, and environmental protection laws at the federal level. This isn't the first time. It won't be the last. We need long-term infrastructure at the state and local level to protect people’s rights.
Private Suits Are Restricted: Private and non-profit attorneys like the ACLU, Earthjustice, etc. are fighting valiantly in courts across the country. But there are many suits they cannot bring due to increasing barriers like forced arbitration.