Reviews are in: Progressives React to Demand Justice’s Call for No More Corporate Lawyers on Federal Bench Under Next Democratic President

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Long-Time Critic of Corporate Capture of Courts, Boosts Demand Justice’s Op-ed

SEIU, Indivisible Among Groups Endorsing Stance on Judicial Nominations

WASHINGTON, DC—A range of leading progressive organizations and prominent activists reacted excitedly to Demand Justice’s call for the next Democratic president to avoid nominating any more corporate lawyers to the federal bench.

The push was announced in an op-ed by Demand Justice co-founders Brian Fallon and Christopher Kang that appeared in The Atlantic Wednesday morning.

“I’ve argued for years that corporate capture of the federal courts is a serious problem,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren in a tweet linking to the essay. “It’s getting worse. The next president must address it—and that starts by committing to dramatically increase the professional diversity of the federal bench.”

“Federal courts must be the guardians of democracy and the rights of all people,” said SEIU General Counsel Nicole Berner. “The judicial branch has increasingly become a tool of corporations and the super rich to wield power and to protect their interests, to pit people against each other on the basis of race and religion, and to weaken working people’s ability to join together in unions to fight for a better life. The next President must return the courts to the people by nominating judges whose professional experience and expertise demonstrate a commitment to working people and their communities.

“Under Chief Justice John Roberts, himself a former corporate lawyer, the Supreme Court has become an institution that works in service of big business and in opposition to democracy,” said Meagan Hatcher-Mays, Director of Democracy Policy for Indivisible. This problem isn’t limited to the highest court in the land — Trump has stacked the rest of the federal bench with corporate lawyers, too. Their pro-corporate bias is clear: corporations keep winning while the people, and our democracy, keep losing. That’s why the next Democratic president must refuse to nominate any more corporate lawyers to the federal bench. Nothing short of the fate of our democracy is at stake. No doubt the next Democratic president will pursue an aggressive agenda aimed at major, structural democracy reforms. But that entire agenda will end up in the courts. We need judges who understand that democracy is about people power — not unlimited corporate power.”

“Power and resources in our country continue to be concentrated at the top,” said Jennifer Flynn Walker, Senior Director of Mobilization & Advocacy for the Center for Popular Democracy. “And the systematic appointment of corporate lawyers for the federal bench has institutionalized corporate interests over public good, helping to cement a system that keeps economic justice out of reach. We have exposed the way that those at the top stockpile wealth and resources, and this is another example of that! We, the people, stand united in creating a new economy that works for us all. And this call to action is another part of that journey. Removing corporate interests from and restoring balance back to our federal benches lays the foundation for the big structural changes we need — from voting rights and climate justice to immigration reform and justice transformation!”

“Corporate attorneys have taken over the federal bench and it is up to the next Democratic president to stop them,” said CREDO Action Co-director Heidi Hess.”We call on the next Democratic president to commit to nominating lawyers who understand how the law works from the point of view of women, workers, immigrants, and communities of color — not more lawyers who have spent their careers and made their fortunes defending corporate interests. In order to fight the corporate capture of our courts, Democrats must put forward judicial nominees with a greater diversity of experiences who feel accountable to the communities they became lawyers to serve.”

“For too long, our federal courts have been dominated by judges who have devoted their legal careers to fighting for corporate special interests,” said Alice O’Brien, General Counsel for the National Education Association. “That has skewed our courts, making them more receptive to corporate interests than to those of working Americans and their families. The next president must make it a priority to rebalance the courts by appointing judges who have dedicated their lives to representing the public interest and working people.”

“Not only is it true that “personnel is policy,” personal history makes up much of who potential personnel are,” said Jeff Hauser, Executive Director of the Revolving Door Project, in a tweet. “We need empathetic do-gooders on federal bench, rather than judges comfortable maintaining the pro-corporate legal doctrines of past 45 years.”

“Hell. Yes. Shout it from the rooftops,” reads a tweet from People’s Parity Project.“Our partners @WeDemandJustice—led by @brianefallon & @cdkang76—nailed it. It’s time for a new vision of federal judges. As they say, ‘Democrats ought to nominate judges whose day jobs involve working for ordinary Americans.’ As#SCOTUSvoters2020, we’ll settle for nothing less.”

“Hugely important and spot on,” said Ian Bassin, founder of Protect Democracy,on Twitter. “It’s not that all corporate lawyers are somehow bad or unqualified, it’s that the bench has tons of them and needs more balance. All candidates should adopt this pledge: they won’t nominate more corporate lawyers to the bench.”

“Bravo. Supreme Court will be a 2020 issue,” said Adam Green, Co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Twitter. “And the corporate takeover of the bench — which impacts everything from health care to taxes to workplace protections to equal pay — must be high on the list of issues presidential candidates address. This moves convo in good direction!”

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