Defending Rights & Dissent fights to fulfill the promise of the Bill of Rights for everyone. We place a special emphasis on defending the right to political expression. We do this by:
- Translating grassroots civil liberties concerns into national policy debate and action;
- Alerting local activists to civil liberties threats; and
- Educating the public, the press and policymakers as to how dissent is crucial to democracy.
DRAD works with our grassroots activist network to support and strengthen local coalitions by providing resources and coaching, organizing support, networking and mobilizing opportunities, and expert policy and advocacy advice and consultation. These grassroots coalitions are defending protest rights and challenging institutional Islamophobia, racial profiling, surveillance, torture, and police militarization locally, and are engaged in national advocacy on many of the same issues.
Defending Rights and Dissent (DRAD) was created in 2015 out of the merger of two envelope-pushing organizations: the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) and the Defending Dissent Foundation (DDF). BORDC was founded in 2001, following the introduction of the PATRIOT Act, and coordinated the successful passage of resolutions opposing government spying in over 400 cities and towns across the country, as well as eight states, reflecting a transpartisan populist consensus in favor of liberty and privacy. DDF was founded in 1960 to fight the McCarthy-era witch hunt that targeted law-abiding Americans on the basis of their political beliefs.
For fifty years, our special talent has been bringing together broad and diverse coalitions and constituencies to challenge government overreach and harassment of activists and communities of color. Our work bridges the gap between civil liberties advocates and social movements that have a vested interest in robust protections for political expression and civil society.