Demand Justice Releases Supreme Court Shortlist of Diverse, Progressive Lawyers

32-Person List Features Public Interest Lawyers, Public Defenders

Democratic Presidential Candidates Urged To Say What Nominees They Would Prioritize

WASHINGTON, DC—On Tuesday, Demand Justice released a shortlist of recommended candidates for the Supreme Court and called on the current Democratic candidates for President to do the same.

Demand Justice’s list is made up of a diverse group of 32 bold, progressive leaders who would help rebalance a Court dominated by pro-corporate judges committed to turning back the clock on the rights of workers, women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ Americans.

The list includes lawyers who have championed progressive values as public defenders, public interest lawyers, scholars, plaintiff’s lawyers, and elected officials. The list does not include any lawyers who have served as partners at corporate law firms or as in-house counsel at major corporations, in keeping with Demand Justice’s call for a moratorium on any such corporate lawyers being appointed to the federal bench during the next Democratic administration.

The shortlist also reflects the pressing need for a Court that better represents the diversity of the country and showcases the plethora of talented women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ lawyers who could be nominated by a president committed to selecting progressive champions.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump released a shortlist pre-approved by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society and mostly made up of hard-right conservatives who were disproportionately white, heterosexual, cisgender men. Democratic candidates running against Trump have an opportunity to engage progressives and show voters they will rebalance the Court by releasing shortlists of their own that promote bold advocates with lifelong records of fighting for justice and equality.

Given that Senate Republicans have now changed the Senate rules to allow a Supreme Court justice to be confirmed by a simple majority, a future Democratic president should seize the chance to nominate a bold progressive champion rather than nominate a choice with a more conventional background.

“While Democrats play by the rules, Republicans are shredding the rule book, and the result is a partisan Supreme Court that works for corporations and the Republican Party and against everyone else,” said Christopher Kang, Chief Counsel for Demand Justice. “If we want to restore balance to our courts, we need to stop shying away from the fight for them and instead give progressives something to fight for: judges who have been bold, progressive champions who have been on the front lines advancing the law for our values.”

Listed alphabetically, the individuals recommended for possible appointment to the Supreme Court by Demand Justice are:

  • Michelle Alexander, a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and founding director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California
  • Brigitte Amiri, the deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
  • Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general and former Democratic congressman
  • Nicole Berner, the general counsel for the Service Employees International Union
  • Sharon Block, the executive director of the labor and worklife program at Harvard Law School and former member of the National Labor Relations Board
  • Richard Boulware, U.S. district court judge for the district of Nevada
  • Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, associate justice of the California Supreme Court
  • Anita Earls, associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
  • James Forman, Jr., the J. Skelly Wright professor of law at Yale Law School and former public defender in the District of Columbia
  • Deepak Gupta, the former senior counsel for litigation and enforcement strategy for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Dale Ho, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project
  • Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Pamela Karlan, the co-director of the Supreme Court litigation clinic at Stanford Law School
  • Jane Kelly, judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit
  • Lawrence Krasner, district attorney for the city of Philadelphia
  • Leondra Kruger, associate justice for the California Supreme Court
  • Catherine Lhamon, the chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
  • Goodwin Liu, associate justice of the California Supreme Court
  • M. Elizabeth Magill, the provost of the University of Virginia
  • Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • Melissa Murray, the Frederick I. and Grace Stokes professor of law at New York University School of Law
  • Nina Perales, vice president of litigation at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Cornelia Pillard, judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • Katie Porter, Democratic congresswoman
  • Carlton Reeves, judge for the U.S. district court for the southern district of Mississippi
  • Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director, Equal Justice Initiative
  • Zephyr Teachout, the associate professor of law at Fordham Law School
  • Cecillia Wang, the deputy legal director for the ACLU
  • Timothy Wu, the Julius Silver professor of law at Columbia Law School
  • Jenny Yang, senior fellow on labor, human services and population at the Urban Institute

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