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Task Force for American Democracy Mission Statement

Our American democracy is under threat. The facts are sobering:

  • In a recent Pew study, 51% of Americans said they are dissatisfied with how democracy is working and 46% said they are open to other forms of government, including rule by a strong leader.
  • Less than one third of Millennials consider it essential to live in a democracy.
  • According to a 2022 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey, 25% of US adults can name only 1 of the 3 branches of government and more than 20% can't name any branch of government.
  • Against all available evidence, many Americans believe the 2020 election was stolen and question the integrity of our election system. Some even say they are prepared to resort to violence if their desired candidate does not win the next election.

The strains on our democracy culminated on January 6, 2021, when an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to stop the constitutionally prescribed process for the election of the next President. There is also evidence of related plots to subvert the 2020 presidential election results at the state level. State election officials and workers have faced scorn and physical threats simply for doing their jobs and refusing to bend to political pressure to do otherwise.

Clearly, our American democracy is not as strong as we once thought and there are those who seem determined to push it to the breaking point. The time for answers and action is now. Lawyers have a special role to play in this critical endeavor for our country. Accordingly, newly elected ABA president Mary Smith has announced the creation of an ABA-sponsored Task Force for American Democracy, co-chaired by former Federal Judge J. Michael Luttig and former Secretary of Homeland Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, to study these issues and provide actionable recommendations for reform. The Task Force will be inclusive and transparent in its work, and will, on a nonpartisan basis, solicit the views of a wide array of state election officials, present and former elected officials, academics, think tanks, public interest and other stakeholder organizations, and everyday voters.

The Task Force will consider and address the following:

  • education of our citizenry on the importance of an inclusive, strong, and enduring democracy;
  • ways to maximize voter confidence and participation in our democratic process;
  • ways to dis-incentivize irresponsible and extremist rhetoric and positions among elected officials and candidates for elective office;
  • ways to ensure the administration of elections remains nonpartisan;
  • ways for ensuring the integrity and the safety of state election officials and workers across the country;
  • ways in which the press and social media can and should contribute to the promotion and avoid denigration of our democracy;
  • the role cyberspace can play in either promoting or corrupting the American democratic process;
  • anti-democratic weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the existing manner in which candidates for federal office are elected in this country;
  • potential changes in federal, state, and local practices, laws, and constitutions to meet these ends.

The Task Force’s report and recommendations will be completed and delivered in writing to the ABA at its annual meeting in Chicago in August 2024. The report will explain why democracy is foundational to American society and the welfare of the American people, provide an analysis of the root causes for today's threats to our democracy and rule of law, and recommend actions to be taken to restore, protect, and preserve our democracy and the rule of law. The Task Force will host public conversations with a broad spectrum of Americans to hear their concerns, experiences, and suggestions for restoring and preserving our democracy rule of law.