Consistent with our advocacy for the courts, Alliance for Justice has always stood on the forefront of advocating for a just and free society — words that have no meaning if individuals do not receive fair representation and due process in their government. We are committed to strengthening democracy to ensure that the country’s direction actually reflects the will of its people. AFJ stands with our partners who advocate for making voting as easy as possible, for ensuring proper representation in Congress, and for ensuring our courts are responsive and accountable to the needs of the American people.
The Senate Filibuster
The filibuster is an anti-constitutional relic that is primarily used to obstruct critical legislation that would protect or enhance Americans’ health care, economic rights, civil rights, voting rights, or reform the courts. For this reason, AFJ believes it is long past time that the Senate abolish the filibuster.
AFJ has a long history of advocacy on this issue, helping to lead the fight alongside other activists to change the Senate’s rules to allow a majority vote to end filibusters on executive branch nominees and almost all judicial nominees in 2013. This followed years of obstruction from the Republican minority to prevent the confirmation of countless highly qualified judicial nominees put forward by then-President Obama.
Today, AFJ supports fully abolishing the filibuster in all of its forms. If full reform is not possible, AFJ supports House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s position that there should be a carveout in the Senate rules allowing laws to be passed on a simple majority up or down vote for legislation dealing with constitutional issues such as voting rights.
Alliance for Justice strongly believes the 706,000 taxpaying residents who call Washington, D.C. home — a majority of whom are not white — should have full and equal citizenship. This includes appropriate representation in the House and Senate not unlike the states of Wyoming and Vermont, which have smaller populations. It is long past time that D.C. become a state, and we strongly urge Congress to pass H.R. 51, the DC Admission Act.
Expansion of Supreme Court
“I am a fierce advocate for expanding the number of justice[s] on the Supreme Court.” – Nan Aron
A majority of justices on the Supreme Court were nominated by presidents who lost the popular vote. Republicans blocked Merrick Garland one year before the 2016 election, and then confirmed Amy Coney Barrett days before Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump. These justices, in turn, have repeatedly degraded our democracy, sided with the wealthy and powerful over the rights of every day Americans, and shut the door on those seeking justice. We need to expand the number of justices to ensure that the highest court in the land enhances our republic and ensure the American people, through their elected officials, can address the nation’s problems and promote the general welfare.
Expansion of Lower Courts
Historically, Congress routinely expanded the number of district and circuit court judgeships to keep up with population and increased caseloads. Since 1990, however, the number of judges has not significantly increased. The Judicial Conference, the policy-making body for the federal court headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, has recommended creating new judgeships to help address the significant increase in cases. AFJ believes these recommendations should serve as a mere minimum for how many judgeships will best serve the nation’s needs.
Creating new judgeships make our courts more efficient and effective in the administration of justice. Expanding the federal courts will also enable the Biden administration to increase the demographic and experiential diversity in our courts.
Protect Our Democracy
AFJ supports legislation that will repair our political system and revitalize our democracy. We need to reverse the egregious Supreme Court decision in Shelby County, ban political gerrymandering, and ensure that all eligible voters have meaningful access to the ballot. That means eliminating obstacles that serve only to advance discrimination, such as voter ID restrictions and voter roll purges, limitations on early voting and mail-in voting, and prohibitions on the voting rights of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Supreme Court Ethics
Alliance for Justice is a longtime advocate for a Supreme Court code of ethics. As over 100 law professors wrote in a 2011 letter spearheaded by AFJ: “[a]dherence to mandatory ethical rules by justices, and requiring transparent, reviewable recusal decisions that do not turn solely on the silent opinion of the challenged justice will reinforce the integrity and legitimacy of the Supreme Court.” Congress should pass legislation imposing a code of ethics on the Supreme Court that parallels the expectations to which lower court judges are already held.