AFJ Action Congratulates Janet Protasiewicz’s Historic Win in Wisconsin

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2023 – The Alliance for Justice Action Campaign offers its sincere congratulations to Janet Protasiewicz on winning today’s election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. With over $42 million spent, this race made history as the most expensive state supreme court race in American history. 

Protasiewicz’s win will put liberals back in control of the state’s highest court at a crucial time. It could soon be faced with questions related to abortion access, the state legislature’s heavily gerrymandered maps, and the integrity of the 2024 election. Having fair-minded justices like Protasiewicz will make a difference for protecting democracy, justice, and equal rights. 

Jake Faleschini, AFJ Action Legal Director for State Courts, issued the following statement: 

“AFJ Action was proud to support Janet Protasiewicz for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Her victory may end up being a saving grace for democracy in a state where Republican lawmakers have rigged legislative maps, undermined fair elections, and gutted the power of the elected governor. Let this election be a warning for just how determined conservatives are to steal power and impose minority rule. We held them off today, but we saw their true colors and we know they won’t stop in Wisconsin. Protasiewicz proved the will of the people can prevail, and we hope that she has the courage to protect the rights of the people in return.” 

AFJ Action Commits to Protecting Democracy in Wisconsin

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 27, 2023 – As the Wisconsin Supreme Court race enters its home stretch, Alliance for Justice Action Campaign is redoubling its commitment to preserving democracy in the state with an additional five-figure campaign on top of its ongoing efforts to get out the vote and support Janet Protasiewicz on April 4. 

The campaign will feature a video that highlights Protasiewicz’s commitment to equality and justice for all and the importance of flipping the Wisconsin Supreme Court to protect core democratic principles. In contrast, Dan Kelly is an extremist who openly opposes abortion access, who has compared affirmative action and social security to slavery, and who openly worked for the Republican Party to advise on election issues. For years, Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have been gutting the power of the governor and undermining access to the polls, and Kelly cannot be allowed to rule on anti-democratic cases he may have literally helped devise the legal strategy for in the first place. 

Additionally, the campaign will include roughly $50,000 in voter outreach and education through text messages and banner ads, which will help voters understand that the election is happening, that it’s not too late to register to vote, why it is important to vote, and how to find their polling place or request and cast an absentee ballot.  

Jake Faleschini, AFJ Action Legal Director for State Courts, issued the following statement: 

“The stakes could not be higher in this Wisconsin Supreme Court race, which has already become the most expensive state supreme court race in American history. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is literally on the line. For the past decade, Wisconsin has been a failed state thanks to the Republican Party gerrymandering the legislature to maintain control even when it has lacked majority support from voters. We cannot allow the Wisconsin Supreme Court to continue to prop up this non-representative power grab with more attacks on voting rights and representation that could impact federal representation as well. AFJ Action is committed to preserving democracy and fighting to seat progressive jurists ready to protect equality and justice for all.” 

State Supreme Court Races Face Mixed Results

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 9, 2022 – In Tuesday’s elections, voters across the country had the chance to weigh in on who will serve on several of our nation’s state supreme courts. These courts are as important as ever, serving as the final word on questions of abortion rights, access to democracy, criminal justice reform, access to justice, and the environment. 

There were significant victories for equal justice in Tuesday’s races. In Michigan, Justice Richard Bernstein retained his seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, and there is a key opportunity to appoint runner-up Kyra Harris Bolden to a remaining vacant seat. In Montana, Justice Ingrid Gayle Gustafson retained her seat. And in Kansas, the justices who had previously ruled that Kansas’s constitution protects access to abortion retained their seats despite efforts to oust them. It likewise appears Illinois will secure a Democratic supermajority on its Supreme Court, which will help ensure abortion access continues in the state, where there is heavy demand from the many surrounding Midwest states where millions are now being forced to carry even dangerous pregnancies to term. 

However, there were setbacks, particularly in states that had explicitly partisan judicial elections. In North Carolina, Republicans Trey Allen and Richard Dietz won their races, which will flip the Court from a 4–3 Democratic majority to a 5–2 Republican majority. In Ohio, Republicans Pat DeWine, Pat Fischer, and Sharon Kennedy won their races, cementing a Republican majority on the Ohio Supreme Court. This does not bode well for ongoing fights in North Carolina or Ohio regarding both abortion access and free and fair elections. 

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign Legal Director for State Courts Jake Faleschini issued the following statement: 

“Voters are awakening to how vital our state courts are to preserving the rights and protections we hold so dear. With unprecedented turnout during a midterm election, voters in states like Michigan, Illinois, and Kansas turned out to elect or retain judges who have demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and equal justice.  

“Unfortunately, Tuesday also saw conservatives solidify control of several important state courts. If the U.S. Supreme Court is going to keep dismantling federal civil rights and protections, we must continue to fight for state courts that will uphold them instead. We took an important step in that direction Tuesday, but we have a lot more work ahead to help voters understand the crucial role these courts play. If states are going to be increasingly relied upon to serve as laboratories of democracy, the fight must continue to ensure state courts are ready to protect the freedoms promised by that democracy. With crucial state supreme court races coming up in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2023, we must all start working now to secure victories in those states.” 

Republicans look to state Supreme Courts to maintain control of redistricting. We have to stop them

Arizona Constitutional Law Experts Urge Sen. Sinema To Overcome Filibuster For Voting Rights

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 14, 2021 – Today four of Arizona’s leading constitutional law experts — including former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Stanley Feldman and Paul Bender, Dean Emeritus for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law — submitted a letter to Senator Kyrsten Sinema rebutting her claim that the Senate filibuster serves as a “guardrail” to “[protect] the democracy of our nation.” 

In their letter, the constitutional law experts urged Senator Sinema to support a modified filibuster allowing for the passage of urgently needed voting rights protections. The letter comes three months after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Brnovich v. DNC, and after dozens of states, including Arizona, have passed new voting rights restrictions targeting democratic voters and people of color. Senator Sinema’s staunch support of the filibuster is one of the primary obstacles to advancing federal voting rights legislation out of the Senate. 

The signers urge Senator Sinema to recognize that preserving the tradition of the filibuster is less important than protecting democracy itself. They note that: 

“When there is a conflict between the filibuster and the people’s ability to protect fundamental constitutional rights, then it is those rights — and not the filibuster — that must win out. To allow otherwise would place the filibuster, a procedural mechanism, above the most important tenets of our democratic system.” 

They conclude: “We implore you, given the urgency and importance of this moment, to support a carve out that and ensures the Senate does not prioritize procedure over the nation’s Constitution and the fundamental rights of Arizonans.” 

Alliance for Justice Action Fund President Rakim Brooks issued the following statement: 

“After the January 6th insurrection, it should be clear that our democracy is at its most fragile point in over a century. We join these legal experts in calling on Senator Sinema to fully embrace democracy, including in the hallowed halls of the Senate. It’s time to abandon the Jim Crow filibuster once and for all and inject the federal voting rights and election protections our democracy so desperately needs. Every American must be assured that their constitutional right to vote will be respected.” 

Click here to read the full letter.

AFJAC Commits to Six-Figure Advocacy Campaigns, Voter Education and Mobilization Efforts in Response to SCOTUS Overruling Roe v. Wade

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 2, 2021 – AFJ Action Campaign announced today its commitment to six-figure advocacy campaigns in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona highlighting yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to ignore long-established precedent and overrule Roe v. Wade. Because of that decision, which was issued by five ultraconservative justices — including all three Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — the people of Texas no longer have a full constitutional right to an abortion. AFJAC expects that the Court’s decision will lead to further unconstitutional abortion bans around the country, and AFJAC may launch additional campaigns into other states as part of its fight to maintain and strengthen a pro-Roe majority in the U.S. Senate.

Additionally, AFJAC also announced today that it is launching a new campaign focused on voter education and mobilization around state courts. As the federal judiciary retreats from the Constitution’s unwavering commitment to liberty and bodily autonomy, state courts will become ground zero in this fight. AFJAC will ensure that concerned citizens are made aware of what state courts can and should do in the fight to preserve people’s safe and constitutional access to reproductive healthcare.

The Court’s 5–4 decision is the culmination of a forty-year campaign by the Republican Party, Federalist Society, and the ultraconservative members of the Court to overturn Roe. The decision opens the door for other Republican-led states to quickly enact laws similar to SB8 in Texas. That law bans abortion at six weeks — before many people even know they are pregnant, and before 85 to 90 percent of abortions occur — and outsources enforcement to anti-abortion extremists using public bounties. There are no exceptions in the bill for rape, incest, or the safety of the parent.

Three of the five ultraconservative justices that signed on to the Court’s decision, as well as two of the Fifth Circuit judges who blocked a district court hearing into the constitutionality of the law, were appointed by President Donald Trump. During his election campaign and presidency, Trump promised that overturning Roe “will happen automatically” because he put “pro-life justices on the court.”

AFJAC vigorously opposed the confirmation of Justices Thomas and Alito and each of Trump’s Supreme Court justices. Each of these jurists was already on-record in favor of overturning Roe. An AFJAC fact sheet including each of the Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justices’ pre-confirmation records on Roe can be found here.

AFJAC also opposed the Trump-appointed Fifth Circuit judges Duncan and Engelhardt and Reagan appointee Edith Jones, who first overruled the stay on the Texas abortion ban made their decision possible.

Dissenting from yesterday’s decision, Justice Sonya Sotomayor called the Court’s actions “stunning.” She noted that, despite being presented with an “application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law,” the Court’s ultraconservative bloc “opted to bury their heads in the sand.” Justice Elena Kagan also harshly criticized the Court’s ultraconservatives for issuing the decision under cover of darkness using the Court’s “shadow-docket” to overturn nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent. Kagan underscored that the decision is “emblematic” of the Court’s recent unprincipled and lawless shadow-docket decisions, which “every day [become] more un-reasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Nan Aron issued the following statement:

“By overturning Roe, the Court has ensured that innocent people will die in their pursuit of critically important and constitutionally protected reproductive healthcare. This is a lawless decision from an out-of-control Court, and we are preparing to go to war to protect our constitutional rights and freedoms. Republicans must be held accountable for confirming the three illegitimate Trump justices that made this decision possible, and they are responsible for this horrendous moment in our nation’s history. AFJAC will ensure that these Republican senators remember whose side they were on come election day in November 2022.

“Rising to this moment demands rapid action. We must protect our Court and Constitution by adding justices to the Supreme Court that will faithfully observe the Constitution and protect the rule of law. Congress must also expeditiously pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to invalidate SB8, and protect against future abortion bans in other states. Finally, the Biden administration and Senate Democrats must continue to prioritize filling every vacancy on the federal bench by 2022. As with President Biden’s nominees thus far, those judges should have a demonstrated commitment to equal justice, including equality for women and other vulnerable populations.”

Biden Presidency An Opportunity To Protect Our Courts

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2020 – In Tuesday’s election, Joe Biden scored a decisive victory for the White House, but Republicans could still yet maintain narrow control of the Senate.

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Nan Aron issued the following statement:

“Voters across the country made clear they see a different vision for our future and our courts than Trump’s parade of unqualified judicial nominees with extremist records. Voters recognized the hypocrisy of Trump’s empty pledges to protect our health care and our rights while stacking the courts with ultraconservative ideologues who will only undermine our democracy and the rights we hold dear. In several states, that meant voting out senators whose final defining legacy was rubber-stamping Trump’s judges.

This was a shot across the bow to Republican senators who overwhelmingly confirmed nominees they expect to do their dirty work of stripping away our rights they know they don’t have the support for in Congress. We will continue to hold them accountable for trying to rig the courts for their dangerous agenda. In the meantime, we will continue to fight to protect our courts from conservative takeover at both the federal and state levels.

In states like Colorado and Arizona, voters stood up for the courts. Soon, the courts will once again stand up for them.”

Michigan Voters Elect Fair-Minded Judges McCormack and Welch

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 4, 2020 – With the votes tallied, Michigan voters have elected Elizabeth Welch and Bridget McCormack to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court. Alliance for Justice Action Campaign had endorsed these fair-minded candidates and supported them through a five-figure ad buy.

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Nan Aron issued the following statement:

“Michiganders have voted for justice, electing Elizabeth Welch and Bridget McCormack to the state’s Supreme Court. They recognized that our state supreme courts are essential to enforce our laws and protect our rights and created a majority that will put people first, not the wealthy and powerful. Alliance for Justice Action Campaign was proud to support the election of Welch and McCormack. They have proven their commitment to advancing our rights and protections in critical areas that matter to Michiganders like health care, the environment, and education. All states should ensure their supreme court will uphold the rule of law and not just follow a partisan agenda.”

Karofsky Overcomes Republicans’ Voter Suppression Attempts in Wisconsin Election

CONTACT
Zack Ford, Press Secretary
(202) 464-7370 / zack.ford@afjac.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2020 – Results are in from Wisconsin’s April 7 election, which, despite the coronavirus pandemic, took place as scheduled. Voting locations were dramatically curtailed and additional accommodations for absentee voters were not provided, forcing voters to run the deadly risk of exposure to the coronavirus at the polls or give up their right to vote. Despite Republicans’ efforts to suppress the vote across the state, with the hope that the disproportionate impact on racial minorities would benefit them, progressive challenger Jill Karofsky won a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Karofsky will take the seat of Scott Walker-appointee Daniel Kelly, whom President Trump had endorsed. The Alliance for Justice Action Campaign endorsed Karofsky in this race and launched a paid ad campaign supporting her.

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign President Nan Aron issued the following statement:

“Republicans’ machinations to suppress the vote turned the Wisconsin election into a travesty of democracy, but their tactics to steal a state Supreme Court seat appear to have failed. Regardless of the outcome, Republican lawmakers should not have conspired with the state court’s conservatives to force such a dangerous election the day before it took place. We applaud those who were able to withstand hours-long lines as they risked their health to cast their ballots — a choice no one should have to make — as well as those who worked the polls to ensure they could vote.

“The Alliance for Justice Action Campaign was proud to endorse Jill Karofsky, who will undoubtedly be a fair justice committed to protecting the rights of every Wisconsinite — the first of many state supreme court candidates our organization plans to fight for. Still, it’s disappointing that her victory came at the expense of such a dangerous process. While we celebrate her win, we remain vigilant in combating any attempt that will force voters to risk their lives or lose the right to vote.”

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