AFJ Member Spotlight is a series where we highlight the great advocacy work of Alliance for Justice member organizations. AFJ is an alliance of more than 120 national, regional, and local organizations working for a wide range of progressive causes, united in our commitment to advancing justice and democracy. Click here for more information on becoming an AFJ member organization.
Earthjustice uses the power of the law to protect the environment
What is Earthjustice’s issue focus?
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to preserve the wild, to fight for healthy communities and to advance clean energy to promote a healthy climate.
Tell us about a current campaign or priority project.
Americans’ ability to access justice through the courts is coming under attack in a manner that is historically unprecedented. Earthjustice uses the courts to protect people’s access to clean water and clean air, to protect imperiled animals and plants and special places, to advance to a clean energy future. Our “Access to Justice” campaign seeks to highlight and stop efforts of the Trump administration and members of Congress (encouraged by wealthy corporations) who are instituting policies and advancing legislation aimed at blocking people’s ability to access the federal justice system. These efforts have the effect of obstructing people’s ability to protect the environment and defend civil rights, civil liberties, consumer protections, and public health and safety.
Our campaign recognizes that legislation and administrative actions that threaten the right to seek justice in the courts, or the ability of courts to provide meaningful remedies represents a direct attack on the foundational rule of law and denies equal access to “justice for all.” Through education, advocacy and partnership with other organizations that work in the public interest, we stand against these attempts to block access to the courts. Every person in America deserves access to justice.
Tips and lessons: Storytelling
When telling the story of protecting the public’s right to clean air, clean water and environmental justice, we endeavor to let our clients do the speaking – not us. We believe it is important to have an awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of our clients we advocate for.
And importantly, they have lived the injustices. They have experienced the environmental harms and lifting up their voices is not only the right thing to do, they are powerful messengers to the broader public on the need to protect our communities and our planet.
Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy program on 501(c)(3) advocacy rules and guidance, and our Justice programs on the importance of the courts and judicial nominations. Is there a specific resource that has helped you in your advocacy? Are the courts taking on new importance for you this year?
The short answer is – absolutely. An accessible, independent, and strong judiciary is necessary for democracy to thrive. Our courts provide access to justice for those lacking political and economic clout, and act as a check and balance to the misuse of power by others. Access to the courtroom is only half of the fight – once in the doors, the public must have access to impartial, independent and competent judges. Judicial nominees should be not only competent and experienced, but fair and independent. It is critical that the Senate Judiciary Committee do its duty to adequately screen nominees for these qualities, and reject those that fail these standards.
- Learn more about attacks to our courts here.