Press Release

Alliance for Justice Announces Building the Bench

June 11, 2019

Program Will Identify Judicial Nominees for Start of New Administration 

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2019 – Alliance for Justice is excited to announce that it is launching a new program, Building the Bench, to counter the effects of the Trump Administration’s efforts to push the federal bench to the right. The program will serve to identify, engage with and advocate for professionally and demographically diverse individuals who would make great candidates for federal judgeships, and provide those names to the next president on Day One of his or her administration.

“The next administration has its work cut out for it in repairing the harm this administration has done to the federal bench,” said Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice. “We are starting this project of identifying great potential judicial nominees now, so the next president won’t lose a minute in addressing this critical need. We are working with advocates representing civil rights, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and more, to ensure that the diverse legal talent we are seeking will come to the attention of home-state senators and the next administration, and will get the support they need to succeed. It’s time for a change on the federal bench and we are ready to make it happen.”

Alliance for Justice will bring to the Building the Bench project its 40 years of experience in advocacy around federal judicial nominations. The program will focus on districts and circuits in which Democratically-appointed judges will be eligible for senior status in January of 2021. AFJ is especially committed to identifying candidates who have dedicated their legal careers to causes including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and the rights of disadvantaged communities, or have done significant pro bono work in those areas. The program will emphasize demographic diversity so our bench better reflects the diversity of our nation.

Unlike the widely-publicized efforts of the Federalist Society, Building the Bench is envisioned as a broad, inclusive initiative. In addition to working with national partners, AFJ will connect with local legal communities and nonprofits, universities, and state advocates and activists. Building the Bench is founded on the principle that we must address a systemic problem in our judicial nominations: the fact that talented potential judicial nominees are at risk of being overlooked, especially if they have professionally and demographically diverse backgrounds. AFJ’s goal is to ensure that talented people are in the running for federal judgeships and have meaningful support for their nominations.

AFJ is pleased to announce that it has received significant seed money to launch the Building the Bench program. We are also delighted to announce the following distinguished members of the Building the Bench Advisory Board:

  • Barbara ArnwineLecturer in Law, Columbia Law School; Founder and President, Transformative Justice Coalition
  • Nicholas AronsAttorney, Katsy Korins LLC
  • Franklin Azar, Attorney and Founder, Franklin D. Azar & Associates
  • William Burke-White, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Guy-Uriel CharlesEdward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
  • Erwin ChemerinskyDean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California – Berkeley Law School
  • Kimberlé W. CrenshawDistinguished Professor, UCLA Law, Columbia Law School
  • David EngstromAssociate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
  • James Forman Jr.Skelly Wright Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Bernard Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Harold Hongju KohSterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School
  • Peter A. Kraus, Founding Partner, Waters, Kraus, and Paul LLP
  • Judd MinerFounding Partner, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.
  • Kali MurrayAssociate Professor, Marquette University School of Law
  • Melissa MurrayProfessor, New York University School of Law
  • Ivy T. NgoAttorney, Franklin D. Azar & Associates
  • Alice O’BrienGeneral Counsel, the National Education Association
  • Michael A. OlivasWilliam B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law, the University of Houston Law Center
  • Robert RaymarAttorney, Hellring, Lindeman, Goldstein & Siegal LLP
  • Judith ResnikArthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Tanina RostainProfessor of Law, Georgetown University School of Law
  • Leticia SaucedoProfessor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
  • Herman SchwartzProfessor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
  • Peter ShaneJacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Chair in Law, Ohio State Moritz School of Law
  • Franklin W. Shoichet, Seattle Attorney
  • Sidney ShapiroFrank U. Fletcher Chair of Administrative Law, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Abbe Smith, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, Georgetown Law
  • Geoffrey StoneEdward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
  • Dean StrangFounding Partner, StrangBradley LLC
  • Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School
  • Mark TushnetWilliam Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School