Liberty & Justice for All
Advancing Justice and Democracy
Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations dedicated to advancing justice and democracy. For over 30 years we have been leaders in the fight for a more equitable society on behalf of a broad constituency of environmental, consumer, civil and women’s rights, children’s, senior citizens’ and other groups. Alliance for Justice believes that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives.
Over the course of three decades the vision of Alliance for Justice has remained steadfast in protecting and expanding pathways to justice and the democratic process, while our programs and tactics have been nimble and resilient, evolving with changing times and the needs of our members and the progressive community. AFJ is known for identifying and addressing threats to public interest and civil rights organizations, as well as opportunities they can seize. We pool resources and talents, drive strategies, organize campaigns and mobilize constituencies.
AFJ advances justice and democracy by:
- Fighting for a fair and independent judiciary by encouraging the selection of judges who respect constitutional values and the rights of citizens, and by ensuring that the judicial selection process is fair and expeditious.
- Working to ensure that the right of nonprofits to engage in advocacy is protected and by providing expertise and information to help nonprofits and foundations understand their advocacy rights under the law.
- Directing public attention and our own advocacy resources to important issues that affect American life and justice.
Whenever threats emerge to the principle of “liberty and justice for all,” Alliance for Justice is prepared to act. When radical right-wing judicial nominations have posed a threat to core constitutional values, AFJ has fought to preserve the integrity of the courts. When conservatives threatened to undermine the advocacy rights of nonprofit organizations, AFJ embarked on a long-term, multi-faceted program to empower nonprofits to exert a progressive influence on public policy. When critical issues of justice have arisen—be it promoting sensible gun safety laws, the use of torture, protecting habeas corpus, or opposing legislation that chills the First Amendment rights of nonprofits—AFJ has sprung into immediate and ongoing action.
Thirty Years of Action and a Bold Agenda for the Future
Alliance for Justice’s agenda at this turning point in our nation’s history spans all three branches of government and embraces the entirety of the nonprofit sector. Creating a more vibrant, inclusive and equitable democracy requires a comprehensive approach through all three of AFJ’s principal channels for action. Our record of achievement is clear and serves as a framework for the work still to be done.
Fighting for a Fair and Independent Judiciary
When Ronald Reagan began packing the federal courts with ultraconservative judges, AFJ sounded the alarm and launched what is now a decades-long effort to engage the progressive community in the fight for a fair and independent judiciary.
AFJ promoted a fair and independent judiciary by spearheading national opposition that thwarted President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, leading successful efforts to confirm 15 federal circuit court judges nominated by President Clinton, and preventing dozens of President George W. Bush’s most extreme nominees from assuming lifetime positions on the federal bench.
AFJ helped pave the way for the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic woman Justice on the Supreme Court.
Moving forward …
AFJ will lead national campaigns to confirm Supreme Court and federal judges committed to upholding core constitutional values of justice and equality.
We will continue to provide information on the oftentimes glacial pace of judicial nominations and confirmations, which have left many federal courts understaffed and hampered the process of justice in many federal district and appeals courts.
Promoting Nonprofit Advocacy Rights and Action
AFJ has trained thousands of organizations to become effective advocates within the full limits of the law and strengthened the public policy work of tens of thousands more through our publications, Internet resources and technical assistance.
We fomented a sea change in philanthropy by giving foundations the confidence and know-how to increase their financial support for advocacy and public policy work.
Moving forward …
AFJ will expand its efforts to champion federal rules and regulations that expand the advocacy rights of nonprofits.
We will play a leadership role in harnessing the power of our member organizations, allies and millions of activists to strengthen an aggressive, concerted coalition to expand access to justice for all Americans, and empower nonprofit organizations to promote public policies that advance social and economic justice on the state and local levels.
We will continue to provide key players in the philanthropic sector such as community foundations, family foundations, foundation boards and donor-advised funds the encouragement, knowledge and skills they need to increase their support for nonprofit advocacy.
Beyond the Bench: Advancing Issues of National Concern
Justice does not begin or end on the bench, of course. It extends throughout our government and the democratic decision-making process. Only through the vigorous advocacy that Alliance for Justice promotes can nonprofits, foundations, and the people whose interests they represent, hope to make an impact on major issues such as economic inequality, global warming and immigration. AFJ will continue to blaze the trail for what The New York Times called “a growing number of philanthropists whose foundations are spending increasing amounts and raising their voices to influence public policy.”
AFJ has documented in reports and blogs the politicization of the Justice Department under George W. Bush and led a campaign to condemn his administration’s approval of torture.
We inspired tens of thousands of students and activists throughout the country to pursue public interest work through our First Monday program. Convened at law schools, colleges, and universities, participants discuss social justice issues highlighted in films we produce annually on topics ranging from homelessness to civil liberties, immigration to the death penalty.
Moving forward …
AFJ will press Congress to pass legislation that corrects court decisions limiting access to justice, and which expands the rights of everyday Americans in their workplaces and communities.
We will work to restore integrity to the Justice Department and ensure that the executive branch respects the rule of law and human rights.
THE OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD
We have spent most of our history on the defensive, fighting efforts by conservative administrations to stifle progressive nonprofits and stack the federal judiciary with extremist judges. Now AFJ is seizing the historic opportunity to work with President Barack Obama and the Congress to deliver on our promise to advance justice and democracy.
As a former community organizer and professor of constitutional law, President Obama knows full well the value of the work Alliance for Justice has done on behalf of the federal judiciary and nonprofit advocacy. While a U.S. Senator, he participated and spoke eloquently in AFJ’s First Monday film, Quiet Revolution. President Obama has made good on his pledge to select judges who understand the lives and concerns of ordinary Americans. The first legislation he signed as President was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which repudiated a reactionary Supreme Court ruling and extended the period of time during which workers can legally challenge pay discrimination. Lilly Ledbetter’s case had been the subject of another First Monday film, and AFJ was in the forefront of the fight for this corrective legislation.
Republicans in Congress have launched a coordinated strategy of obstruction and delay to try to halt progress on issues of vital importance to the country, from health care reform to judicial and executive branch nominees. The democratic process is often stalled by these tactics, and even now President Obama and Congress need all the help AFJ can offer to undo the damage that the Bush administration did to our system of justice and ensure that government decisions do not disproportionately harm the poor and powerless in this time of economic crisis.
The challenges that lie ahead are enormous. The voices of the people whose lives are most jeopardized by our nation’s tattered safety net must be heard and respected. AFJ will stand up for the rights of nonprofits to represent their constituencies forcefully, help these groups navigate the complex web of federal and state laws governing advocacy, and fight restrictive or burdensome new rules that would inhibit their work.
The current Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, has demonstrated a strong bias in favor of powerful corporations and against the interests of ordinary people, jeopardizing long-established legal principles and threatening to unravel decades of social and economic justice. Meanwhile, ultraconservatives at all levels of the judiciary have eroded our right to privacy and free speech, encouraged discrimination in pay, discouraged communities from integrating their public schools and insulated large corporations from liability for the harm their products cause. For decades to come, these judges will continue to threaten our constitutional protections. Their influence must be countered, and our freedom defended, by the appointment of judges who cherish our rights.
Continuing its work of over 30 years, AFJ will lead the nation on the long road back to respect for the Constitution and protection for everyday people.
As the nation confronts crisis after crisis, the need for an involved and active progressive movement, working on behalf of the rights of ordinary Americans and devoted to the Constitution’s promise of liberty and justice for all has never been greater.
As then Senator Barack Obama, speaking in 2008 on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, declared:
“Dr. King once said that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.’ It bends towards justice, but here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice….”
Join Alliance for Justice in working to ensure that our nation fulfills the promise of justice for all Americans made by our Constitution, our laws, and our highest ideals.