WASHINGTON, D.C., October 22, 2020 – Vice President Biden’s statement about establishing a commission to reform the courts signals a commitment to make the courts a priority for his administration.
Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Nan Aron issued the following statement:
President Trump, aided by Senator Mitch McConnell, has packed our courts with ultraconservative judicial nominees who are overwhelmingly white (92%) and male (76%). In many cases, these nominees lack experience serving America’s most vulnerable populations — people who are often dependent on the courts to obtain justice. As a result, our courts are starting to look less like chambers of equal justice, and more like exclusive clubs where only certain people need apply. This administration’s nominee will threaten voting rights, health care, reproductive choice, worker’s rights, environmental justice, LGBTQ protections, and our freedoms and liberties.
For more than forty years, Alliance for Justice has insisted that America’s courts be served by highly qualified judges who will safeguard the rights of all, not just the wealthy and the powerful. Therefore, we call on Vice President Biden to include civil rights, public interest, public defenders, and plaintiff lawyers, as well as other lawyers who represent disenfranchised peoples as a part of the proposed commission. Moreover, in establishing the commission, Biden must establish clearly defined goals and priorities, chief among them being developing a set of recommendations for ensuring that the federal judiciary not only reflects the demographic diversity of the nation in its composition, but also the diversity of legal practice and attorneys who have advocated for clients of varying backgrounds in previous roles, and who encompass a range of socioeconomic, sexual, geographic, and racial identities. This is an opportunity to undo the damage Senate Republicans have done to our courts, as well as ensure our courts are representative of the people they serve.
Many solutions for expanding and preserving access to justice have been studied for years, and could be implemented without establishing a commission. We strongly encourage Biden to reduce the anticipated life of the commission from 180 to 90 days. The damage a 6–3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court could do even in that time is a great risk to take.
Our democracy is stronger when the judiciary is comprised of judges who are fair-minded and unbiased, who are committed to the principle of equal justice under the law, and whose backgrounds speak to the full breadth of the American experience. Alliance for Justice Action Campaign looks forward to working with an administration dedicated to ensuring that the judiciary — our third co-equal branch of government — promotes equal justice for all citizens, regardless of wealth or access to power.