After 42 wonderful years, my time as president of Alliance for Justice is winding down. Leading AFJ has been the honor of a lifetime, and I will be forever grateful to the wonderful staff, coalition partners, member organizations, and supporters that have made our success possible. I am also incredibly grateful for the brilliant leadership of our next president Rakim Brooks, who will help usher in a vibrant new chapter for AFJ.
I recognize that my tenure as president is coming to an end at a critical moment in our history, when the overlapping crises of the past several years have been the source of constant challenges for all of us. I am nevertheless filled with hope about AFJ’s future and the rising generation of progressive advocates that will shape it, knowing that our work to sustain a movement for a fair judiciary and fearless advocacy has never been more important.
We all know and understand the stakes.
In the space of the last two months an increasingly lawless, out-of-control Supreme Court has allowed Texas to overturn Roe v. Wade and place literal bounties on abortion providers in the state. The Court’s ultraconservatives also gutted the Voting Rights Act and put an estimated 11 million people at risk of eviction during a once-in-a-century pandemic. The Court also made the unprecedented decision to dictate U.S. foreign policy through forcing President Biden to revive President Trump’s unlawful “remain in Mexico” policy for refugees.
Many of these decisions were made under cover of darkness, with no public hearings or oral arguments.
Despite these incredible challenges, I remain confident knowing that we’ve been here before and we’ve won. In 2013, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans succeeded in blocking every single one of President Obama’s nominees to the federal bench. We demanded an end to the filibuster for lower court nominees and executive branch appointees, something no one believed was possible. We won that fight anyway.
AFJ is stronger today than we were then. Democrats and progressives have never been more motivated to preserve the rule of law and take back the federal judiciary. For the first time, after years of watching the Republican Party stack the federal bench with dangerous ideologues, polling showed that progressives were more highly motivated by this issue than the opposition during the 2020 elections. Maintaining this passion and energy will make AFJ’s work so much more powerful than it has ever been before.
We’re also stepping up our efforts.
Under Rakim’s leadership, AFJ will remain laser focused on eliminating the filibuster and passing critically important voting rights legislation. AFJ is also re-doubling its efforts to promote Court expansion as part of its fight to ensure every person’s constitutional right to bodily autonomy and reproductive healthcare, including abortion. AFJ is also fighting to ensure that President Biden and Senate Democrats fill every single judicial vacancy by 2022, and that each of these nominees are strongly in favor of preserving people’s constitutional rights to an abortion.
We’re not stopping at the Courts.
Through its Bolder Advocacy program, AFJ has spent the last several years helping thousands of nonprofits understand how to use their knowledge and expertise to advocate for change. These groups have in turn spent their time mobilizing millions of people in the fight against systemic racism, mass incarceration, and economic inequality, as well as the fight for reproductive rights, a more humane immigration system, a safe and sustainable climate, and so much more.
I want to close this letter by thanking you for your passion, your dedication, and your continued support for AFJ. From the beginning, my career has always been inspired by the belief that the law is an instrument of justice capable of changing the lives of those that have been unfairly kept to the margins of our society. As I move on to the next chapter of my fight to make this belief a reality, I am reminded of an important proverb that also guides me.
“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
Founder & President
Alliance for Justice