It’s time to take back our courts.

For decades, far-right interests have sought to shape the federal courts. The Trump Administration has been aggressive in this effort, nominating scores of predominately white male conservative judges to the federal bench. Check out our reports for the latest statistics on Trump’s effort to pack the bench with dangerously unfit and unqualified nominees.

To combat Trump’s damage to our courts and prepare for the next administration, AFJ launched an exciting initiative called Building the Bench to recruit outstanding candidates for seats on the federal bench. We are identifying a strong pool of professionally and demographically diverse individuals for consideration by the next president soon after inauguration.

About Building the Bench

Building the Bench is a collaborative effort with many organizations that represent workers’ rights, women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and more. AFJ is using its expertise and resources to build awareness across the country about how federal judges are selected, and to advocate for a federal bench that better reflects the diversity of our nation.

In July 2020, Building the Bench launched a new virtual speaker series called May I Approach? Courts and the Power of Inclusion. It features discussions about the importance of experiential and demographic diversity for America’s courts. Click here to learn more about the series and watch past events.

What makes Building the Bench unique?

Alliance for Justice is working to call attention to federal judicial vacancies and encourage talented lawyers and judges to apply. We will help prospective judicial nominees navigate their way through the process. And we started before the next president is elected so the new administration can hit the ground running when it comes to judicial selection.

Why is Alliance for Justice uniquely qualified for this role?

For 40 years, AFJ has been a recognized leader in advocating for a judiciary that upholds the rights of all. AFJ has longstanding ties to Senate offices, legal organizations, and state and local advocates. Senators rely on our research and know our advocacy, making us a “go-to source.”

What is AFJ looking for in potential nominees?

We’re looking for individuals who have dedicated their legal careers to public interest, civil rights, and criminal justice causes, or who have done significant pro bono work in those areas. We are also prioritizing demographic diversity so the judiciary better reflects the demographics of American society.

Speaking of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who had been a civil rights attorney before assuming the bench, Sandra Day-O’Connor said:


“At oral arguments and conference meetings, in opinions and dissents, Justice Marshall imparted not only his legal acumen but also his life experiences, pushing and prodding us to respond not only to the persuasiveness of legal argument but also to the power of moral truth.”

Sandra Day-O’Connor

Where will AFJ focus?

We’ve started with district and circuit courts where there are sitting judges eligible to take senior status.

How will AFJ work with other organizations?

We’re partnering with advocates and organizations across a wide variety of causes. This is a team effort!

How will this project be guided?

We’ve built a diverse coalition of law professors, attorneys, and legal advocates from across the country to provide support and advice for this program. Click here to see our Advisory Council.

How can I support Building the Bench?

We welcome your support. Contact us at [email protected] for information on how you can help build the bench for the future of an independent federal court.