Constitutional, Civil Rights, & Democracy

Centers & Intellectual Life

People discussing

From topical reports examining the state of constitutional rights today, to events that feature insiders discussing critical issues such as national security, the intellectual life at the Law School offers a wealth of opportunities for exploring constitutional, civil rights, and democratic issues:

The Brennan Center for Justice is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. The center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism.

The Peter L. Zimroth Center on the Administration of Criminal Law analyzes important issues of criminal law, particularly focusing on prosecutorial power and discretion. It pursues this mission in three main arenas: academia, the courts, and public policy debates. 

The Center on Civil Justice is dedicated to the study of the civil justice system in the United States and how it can continue to fulfill its purposes. The Center draws on the unmatched strengths of the NYU Law faculty in the fields of procedure and complex litigation, as well as on a Board of Advisers consisting of leading practitioners and Judges, to identify the problems that most deserve further investigation and engagement, and to fill a void in scholarly and policy analysis.

The Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law was created to confront the laws, policies, and practices that lead to the oppression and marginalization of people of color. The Center is also committed to training the next generation of social justice advocates, and therefore serves as a resource to students and faculty alike to foster a healthy exchange of ideas on the ways in which race and inequality shape and inform the law.

The Classical Liberal Institute (CLI) examines how systems of property rights and contracts work to advance human welfare within a framework of limited government. CLI also co-sponsors the annual Friedrich A. von Hayek Lecture, which the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty publishes. Past topics have included administrative law, the constitution, and jurisprudence of new technology.

The Reiss Center on Law and Security is a non-partisan multidisciplinary research institute established in 2003 to focus on cultivating an informed dialogue and conducting groundbreaking research on the vital legal, policy, and strategic questions that will shape the national security field for years to come.

The Colloquium on Law, Economics, and Politics investigates a wide variety of topics ranging from the foundations of rational choice theory (an inquiry important to the evaluation of the use of the theory in understanding law) to applications to questions of immediate interest.

The Institute of Judicial Administration solidifies NYU Law’s status as a non-partisan resource for the judicial community. Faculty Co-Directors Oscar Chase and Samuel Estreicher oversee IJA programming including annual appellate judges training seminars, workshops on special topics in the law, and the annual William Brennan Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice.

Just Security is an online forum for the rigorous analysis of US national security law and policy that aims to promote principled and pragmatic solutions to national security problems that decision-makers face. 

The Policing Project is dedicated to strengthening policing through democratic governance. It is working with criminal justice experts, community members, the police, and many others to write model rules and policies for policing.


The Annual Derrick Bell Lecture on Race in American Society—presented by the Law School and the Black, Latino, Asian Pacific American Law Alumni Association—features a prominent legal scholar addressing a current topic in race and the law in the United States.

Started over 50 years ago, the James Madison Lecture invites distinguished figures to speak on civil liberty and strengthen the sense of national purpose.


Journals include The International Society of Public Law (ICON·S), the Journal of Law & Liberty, and the Review of Law and Social Change.